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25th May 2017

WATCH: Graeme Souness chooses the worst time to launch his most blistering attack on Manchester United

United fans probably won't care what he had to say though

Robert Redmond

We’re sure Manchester United fans don’t care what any football analyst has to say about their team right now, good or bad.

United are back in the Champions League and achieved the feat through winning the one trophy missing from their collection – the Europa League.

The final in Stockholm on Wednesday night wasn’t a thriller, but Jose Mourinho’s team got the job done. They controlled the game against a youthful Ajax team, ceding possession and expertly capitalising on mistakes.

Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan won the final for United, and it was an efficient, effective and ultimately successful approach by the side, masterminded by Mourinho.

United fans will be rightly delighted with the outcome. However, over on Irish television, a recent critic of the team’s performances, and particularly the tactical approach of their manager, wasn’t impressed.

At half-time on Wednesday night, with United leading 1-0 thanks to Pogba’s goal, Graeme Souness said Mourinho’s team were playing like a “Championship” side.

The criticism was the latest in the back and forth between Souness and Mourinho. Last week, the former Blackburn Rovers manager was critical of Mourinho’s complaints about fixture congestion.

The United manager used his programme notes for last Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace, the final Premier League fixture of the season, to take a dig at Souness’ managerial career.

However, Souness hit back on Irish TV on Wednesday night, and remains deeply unconvinced by Mourinho’s team, despite their success. Over on TV3, Souness said:

“This is Man United, one of the biggest names in world football, playing basically lower end of the Championship style football, launching everything.”

The pundit also called Ajax a “youth team” and said watching United was “agony”. You can watch Souness at half-time here:

(Scroll down after the video for Souness’ post game thoughts on Mourinho’s team)

At the end of the game, despite United seeing out the final in comfortable fashion, Souness continued to criticise Mourinho’s team and the his approach.

“(United were) very efficient, defended very well,” he said, just after the full-time whistle.

“I suppose the argument would be, if you’re a United supporter getting to a cup final, it doesn’t really matter how you play, as long as you end up coming home with the cup.

“I think they deserved to win it tonight, they had a game plan which wasn’t terribly attractive to watch, they worked and stuck to it, and it worked perfectly for them. They got a couple of goals against a team that had all of the ball, but did nothing with it. They, when they got their chances, put them away.

“But no, I come back to it, it’s not the type of football that you want to see Man United play week in, week out. But that’s unfortunately what they have been doing for most of the season. Efficient but not a great watch.”

Souness went on to say that United have had a “successful season.”

However, the former Liverpool and Newcastle United manager appeared unable to get past how Mourinho’s team achieved their success in the 2016/17 campaign.

He suggested that the type of football they played is beneath a club of their statue in the global game.

“They have turned up in Stockholm, and dug out a result playing the kind of football that is not Manchester United, that’s my biggest beef with them,” Souness said.

“They don’t attempt to get on the ball, and don’t play enough football for me. If you’re one of the big clubs in the world, which they obviously are, you have to play better football.

“They won’t win the big trophies playing like that, against the better teams they won’t win the big trophies. You won’t win our league playing like that. They don’t play enough football.

“I think he sets his team out not to get beat, like he did tonight. I think in the end they probably had about 34 percent of the ball overall in the game. This is Man United playing against a team whose average age is 22.”

“But nobody will remember any of that, all they will remember is that they won the trophy this year, and they’re in the Champions League next year. But it’s not a great watch, and I’ll come back to it, Man United are one of the elite clubs in world football.

“Would you see Bayern Munich play football like that? Would you see Barcelona play like that? Would you see Real Madrid play like that? That’s the level you’re talking about with Man United, they’re one of the world’s elite football teams.”

We doubt United fans will care too much what the pundit has to say given the club achieved their objective of Champions League qualification and won two trophies this season. And Souness will feel he is just doing his job by calling it as he sees it.

But don’t be surprised to see the feud between Mourinho and Souness continue next season.

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