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Man United Report Card: Mourinho flops in Europe but FA Cup can add gloss to mixed campaign

ESPN's Manchester United correspondent Rob Dawson gives his view on the club's second-place finish to rivals Manchester City.

Winning the FA Cup would underline Jose Mourinho's status as a trophy-gatherer, but Manchester United remain a work in progress.

Here's a look back at their campaign ahead of the showdown with Chelsea at Wembley.

School report: Grade B

Mourinho insists he is pleased with the progress Manchester United have made this season and it is difficult to argue. Finishing second in the Premier League table is a step in the right direction after struggling to break into the top four since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Lifting the FA Cup would add a bit of gloss to the campaign and the possibility of three trophies in two years under Mourinho is a sign that the winning mentality which was so important under Ferguson is returning.

However, Mourinho will feel United should have got closer to Manchester City while the Champions League exit to Sevilla was disappointing. Still, this season can go down as a moderate success, but only if it leads to bigger and better things next year.

Top of the class

David De Gea has had another good season, but then you don't expect anything less from the best goalkeeper in the world. Nemanja Matic has been a positive in his first season at Old Trafford, especially after arriving at the club on the back of a disrupted preseason.

Romelu Lukaku also deserves a mention. There were question marks about whether the Belgian could make the step up from Everton but 16 Premier League goals and 27 in all competitions has proved many of his doubters wrong. He has been around for so long that it is easy to forget he is still only 24. As he feels more settled at United he should get better and there is no reason why he cannot challenge the likes of Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero as the league's best striker.


Alexis Sanchez has not been a flop but United fans will have expected more from the Chilean following his January move from Arsenal. Mourinho has been quick to point out that it is difficult for a player to switch clubs halfway through the season while Sanchez himself has admitted he has endured a "difficult" first six months at Old Trafford.

He averaged a goal every two games in the Premier League at Arsenal and it is that type of form that he will be expected to produce at United. Chile won't be in Russia for the World Cup and there is hope that a summer off and a full preseason will help Sanchez hit the ground running next season.

Mourinho insists he will not sign another attacking player this summer and, if he keeps his word, there will be a lot of pressure on Sanchez to help bridge the gap with Manchester City.


Home wins over Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal were welcome, but it is difficult to look past the game at the Etihad. To come back form 2-0 down to win 3-2 and make Manchester City wait to win the title -- it doesn't get much better than that.

It only delayed the inevitable and Pep Guardiola's side were crowned champions a week later, but the result denied City the chance to celebrate in front of the travelling United fans.

The title was already long gone but, ahead of next season, it proved United can be a match for City. It should give the dressing room confidence that they are ready to bridge the gap and mount a serious title challenge.

Low point

There have been plenty of highlights, but also too many lows. United lost to each of the three promoted teams -- Huddersfield, Newcastle and Brighton -- as well as relegated West Brom. They also dropped points against Stoke, Southampton and West Ham -- all in the bottom half of the table.

Despite all that, the Champions League defeat to Sevilla was particularly disappointing. Mourinho was keen to point out afterwards that Sevilla had more experience of European knockout rounds, but the fact the Spanish side did not win for another nine games after winning at Old Trafford in March was evidence enough that United should have gone through.

Mourinho was correct in that United were not ready to win the Champions League after failing to qualify for the competition in three of the past four years, but the manner of the limp exit to Spain's seventh-best team was a major setback.

Summer homework

Mourinho will again look to strengthen his squad and it is likely at least one central midfielder will arrive. There are question marks, too, over both regular full-backs -- Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young -- two converted wingers who are in the final stages of their careers.

Beyond that, United need to be more consistent if they want to win the title. City have set a new level of consistency that United will have to match. Losing to promoted teams while beating the rest of the top-six suggests the issue is mentality rather than quality -- something that will need to be addressed over the summer.

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.


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