JOSE MOURINHO: THE RIGHT ONE
A lot has been said, written and spoken about Jose Mourinho’s position as United manager in recent months especially after the home reverses against Seville and more recently West Brom. I cannot deny that the results weren’t shocking but it was not enough to undo all the good work and positive steps taken by the team over the past couple of seasons.
For proof, we only need to look at our results in 2018. Starting from the visit of Chelsea in February to the Wenger’s last Old Trafford bow, it was a season-defining stretch for United and it is fair to say that the side has done really well given the quality of sides faced barring the odd blip. In the past two odd months that started with Chelsea’s visit, United have defeated all the other clubs from the Top 6: Manchester City at the Etihad, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal at home and Tottenham at Wembley. That’s some record for a team that’s supposed to be one of the worst United sides in recent memory per the English press. At the end of the day, you play brilliant and sweeping attacking football or adopt a more pragmatic approach to get the win, you still get three points. Of course, City are head and shoulders above the rest but we expected that didn’t we. This season was all about taking these steps forward and the team has done that.
While Mourinho got his tactics horribly wrong against Seville twice, against Spurs at Wembley and the Derby at Old Trafford, it cannot be denied that the team has made tremendous progress. Better defensively and better offensively despite a criticism for being not being good enough on the latter part of the game. We are on course for about 86 points in the Premier League too, enough to be Champions in a handful of seasons and more than enough for a close title run-in. But this isn’t any other season, is it? We’re seeing one of the greatest sides in English football and I’m confident even the best of managers would be in a spot of bother going up against this Manchester City side who have the ability to replace injured players with 60m replacement signings.
Sarcasm and banter aside, United have been better than both Liverpool and Tottenham. Both teams praised for their entertaining style of football. But United have won two trophies and are in the Final of a third while these Spurs and Liverpool combined have reached just one Final (at the time of writing) in the same period. At the end of the day, you remember winners and not entertainers. The euphoria of winning a trophy is much much better than the feeling of watching great football if you ask me.
Jose Mourinho has also continued the United tradition of promoting youth and giving a chance for those knocking on the door. Even after winning the League, Guardiola the supposed Champion of Youth plays a full strength team and names one substitute short to make a statement. On the other hand, look at the progress players like McTominay have made at United. Nicky Butt has often been vocal about the involvement Mourinho has with the Academy. You don’t need a sprawling 200m facility but rather have people that are ready to give these kids a chance. With second place all but secure, I really can’t wait for the likes of Gomes and Chong to get a run out as the season draws to a close.
Mourinho has had a catalytic effect in the increased form of the likes of Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, and Marcus Rashford among others. We never hear about this in the press. We only hear rumours about the likes of Pogba and Martial leaving even when the players have themselves come out and said that is not the case.
The post-Ferguson era at Old Trafford has seen dodgy transfers which have seen us stay in a period of transition for five seasons now. But Mourinho’s arrival has seen the club make the right moves in the transfer window. United have changed the complexion of their attack with the arrival of Lukaku, Sanchez and the now departed Zlatan. The signing of Pogba was a statement move where United got a top five midfielder in the world. Credit to Mourinho for getting in a relative unknown like Bailly and bringing in Nemanja Matic from a direct rival. Our squad still needs to discard deadwood like Darmian, Blind among others and a major clear-out is expected this summer with a huge window expected at the club. Mourinho has one of the best transfer records for Top 6 managers since his appointment in the managerial hot seat.
Mourinho’s time at United is a testament to his trophy-first approach to football and for all of Manchester City’s dominance, United still have the most trophies since the start of last season. While some may have an objection to Jose’s pragmatic approach to games, he is still the Right Man to lead United forward.