Everton's Koeman on Europa League final
- Author: Julie Sanders May 23, 2017,
May 23, 2017, 9:38
His torrid spell at Old Trafford, marked by uninspiring and cagey football, was in stark contrast with a glorious 1991-1997 run at Ajax, where he won the UEFA Cup in 1992 before capturing Europe's blue ribband trophy three years later. "The last final I was involved in I did not have to do a lot, just make sure that I was fit and rested", he said.
Ajax, runner-up to Feyenoord in the Dutch league this season, is back in a European final thanks to its renowned youth program, which has for decades churned out talented stars, and the club's knack for scouting stars of the future.
Ajax should not be underestimated and have been excellent for the most part this year both in the Europa League and domestically, but Mourinho has won 11 of the 13 cup finals he's guided his teams to over the course of his career.
"You've got 100,000 requests for tickets and you only have 10,000, so how do you deal with all of that?"
"We have to play very well if we want to win it".
Following the Palace win, United players performed a lap of appreciation for supporters, who in turn gave a special ovation to captain Wayne Rooney, who may have played his last game for the club.
"When we lost players in a period of 17 matches in seven weeks, it was the impossible job". For a club of the stature of Ajax, it's been too long that we were away from the worldwide podium.
Ironically, after Van Gaal's successor Jose Mourinho's struggles in the league this season, the Europa League now represents United's only chance of reaching the 2017/18 Champions League.
"You try and learn from clubs where you have been or actions clubs are taking to grow in certain markets and that for myself is also important".
"People said that all the time", Van Gaal told this reporter.
"His overview of a match situation, if you like, can be better in that he sees more, and thinks more about the game".
That philosophy is hardly new to Ajax.
"I would rather have had them (United) in the semi-final because it would have been great to take Ajax to Old Trafford and get United over here in Amsterdam to give them a nice, warm welcome", he said.
"I know we're a big name but in size - commercial, financial size - we're a small club that can also achieve success".
Mourinho has made his priorities clear in recent weeks by resting players for league fixtures, but he claims United s injury problems left him with no choice.
There was a steely glare from Edwin van der Sar when the subject of Ajax's youthful squad was raised and he swatted the inevitable question aside with contempt. I hope we can impose our experience to win.