Phil Jones believes winning the FA Cup this weekend would also boost Manchester United’s Premier League title bid next term.
Having finished their league campaign a whopping 19 points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City, United have one final chance to win some silverware when they face Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday.
Defender Jones admits just lifting the FA Cup for the second time in three seasons could only be deemed “satisfactory” for the club, yet he also feels it would imbue Jose Mourinho’s squad with confidence ahead of the start of the next league campaign.
“It will be our last game of the season – if you win that, you finish on a positive note and you go into the next season feeling confident, ready to go and ready to battle again for the title,” the England international said.
“I really don’t think we’re far away. In another season we might have been challenging. Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and say that Man City have done ever so well to win the league this year, take nothing away from them.
“They’ve competed well in every game and won games where you’re thinking they probably would have drawn. I think winning the FA Cup and going into next season will be good for us.”
There has been much debate over whether or not United have progressed in Mourinho’s second term. Though their league position improved from sixth to second, they were EFL Cup and Europa League winners in the Portuguese’s debut campaign.
On reaching a third final in two seasons, Jones added: “We’re moving in the right direction.
“We’ll always have our critics because we’re Man United and ultimately it’s been like that since I’ve been here, but it shows that we’re moving in the right direction under him.
“(A) successful (season) for Man United is winning the Premier League and another trophy, and probably having a good cup run in another one.
“I think finishing second and winning the FA Cup probably would be satisfactory for Man United but we always want to win more.
“This club is so used to winning things. It is part of the history of this club. To keep adding to that is important. We cannot stand still. We can’t just let the FA Cup final pass.”
United do have an excellent record against the other top-six Premier League clubs, having beaten them all since late February.
In three of those victories, including the one over Chelsea at Old Trafford and the FA Cup semi-final success over Tottenham, Mourinho’s side had been trailing too.
“I think we’ve done very well against the top six – we’ve competed well, we’ve battled well and I think in every game we’ve deserved to win,” Jones said.
“There’s not a game where you think, ‘It could have gone either way’, I think we’ve deserved to win the games.
“Again, that shows the direction that we’re moving in and the progression that we’re making.
“We need to keep doing that and winning the FA Cup final will be another step in the right direction.”