It is fair to say that Jose Mourinho’s move to United was football’s worst-kept secret last season.
Dissatisfaction with Louis Van Gaal reached such high levels that the fans were often heard chanting Mourinho’s name, and Mourinho scarves even went on sale outside the ground.
It was no surprise, therefore, to see United finally get their man, and supporters at Old Trafford had a sense of optimism once again, despite the fact that Mourinho had been sacked before Christmas after an awful first half of the season at Chelsea.
United have had a turbulent time since Ferguson left the club in 2013, and last season was no exception. Despite winning the FA Cup, the club could only manage 5th place in the Premier League.
The ‘Special One’ knew that surgery was needed in the summer and much like his predecessor, he was given the license to spend. Around £150 million was spent in total, and there were big arrivals such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Mkhitaryan, as well as Paul Pogba who signed for a world record fee.
As a result of this spending, United were suddenly propelled to being amongst the favourites to win the title. Early season results backed this up, with United winning their first three games and in impressive fashion.
However, the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford was very much a reality check. They were torn to pieces by City in the first half and while they came back in to it in the second half, there was no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s team were superior.
Since that game United’s form has been mixed, with a poor performance and result away at Watford followed by a convincing 4-1 victory at home to champions Leicester City. This really shouldn’t be of any surprise though, as even finishing in the top four was always going to be a hard task for United this season.
Mourinho clearly still doesn’t know what his best team is, with the starting line-up still not settled; for a manager, this is never a good sign. He is still being faced with a number of dilemmas, with the main one being whether to play his captain Wayne Rooney.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 21, 2016
But one thing is for sure: Mourinho isn’t afraid to make the bold decisions, as demonstrated by the fact that Rooney has been on the bench for the last three league games. The United boss will continue to chop and change until he works out what his best starting 11 is.
While Mourinho is known for a pragmatic style of play, the football has been much more fluid than it was under Van Gaal, and this will no doubt please the supporters. However, the recent performance against Liverpool was anything but fluid, with United grinding out a 0-0 draw with just 35% of the possession.
In many ways, however, this performance will have pleased the former Chelsea boss the most, as it was a trademark of how many of his previous sides have played away from home against a the big teams. It would have proved to Mourinho that his players have character and discipline.
Mourinho’s success at United though won’t be measured on the style of football but on trophies. He has after all won the league at every single club he has managed, and is a three time Premier League winner.
If anyone can get United back to the lofty heights of the Ferguson era, it is Mourinho, but he must be given time to leave his mark on this squad and indeed strengthen his squad even further.
Don’t be surprised to see United trophy-less this season, but stay patient United fans, as Mourinho will deliver silverware eventually.
Image courtesy of I3O via flickr.com
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