STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam coach Peter Bosz was disappointed by his team’s performance in their 2-0 defeat by Manchester United in Wednesday’s Europa League final, but vowed to learn from United’s physical display and come back stronger.
Jose Mourinho’s more experienced side overpowered Ajax across the 90 minutes, conceding possession but denying their opponents the space they needed to play their passing game.
“Obviously I‘m disappointed, because you play finals to win them,” Bosz told a news conference at the Friends Arena.
“We didn‘t, and I haven’t seen the Ajax that I‘m used to, which means playing good football, high pressing and being dominant.”
Ajax went behind to a deflected Paul Pogba shot in the 18th minute after losing the ball from their own throw-in.
It was an uphill battle after that, made harder when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored United’s second three minutes after the break.
“If you come 1-0 behind against such an, in defence, well-organised team, it’s going to be difficult, especially the second half,” the 53-year-old Bosz said.
Ajax had no answer to the physical strength and power of United, especially in midfield, where world record signing Pogba and Belgian international Marouane Fellaini dominated.
“I think there’s a big difference in the physical way they (United) play, but its not a matter of strength - it’s how you use your body, which we have to learn,” Bosz said.
”For all the players, this is the first final. For winning finals, you first have to play finals and learn from it. All the players who played today learned a lot, and this is one aspect of the game where they were better than we were.
“They will learn a lot from it and we will become stronger, and if we can keep this squad together we will be stronger next season, for sure,” he added.
With the game played in the shadow of Monday’s bomb attack at a pop concert in Manchester, which left 22 dead and 64 injured, Bosz said his players were influenced by that event.
“We talked about it, and in the media there was a lot going on, so obviously both sides were affected. But once you play that final, I think you will, for that moment, forget it.”
A year to the day after losing the Israeli cup final with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Ajax coach joked that he intended to talk to the footballing authorities about the date of the final.
“I will ask UEFA and FIFA if they will not play any finals on this date,” he said with a wry smile.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Ken Ferris