Written by Carl Walker
Ever since sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement from management, you always knew there would never be another like the great man. A glittering managerial career with trophies galore. You just hoped that the next man in could handle being the Manchester United manager.
Unfortunately for David Moyes, this wasn’t the case, for whatever reason it didn’t work out and he lasted less than a season. Manchester United finished 7th, their worst league finish since the premiership’s conception.
The next manager would have to be crucial and when United landed Van Gaal they thought this could be the one.
A CV as impressive as any and fresh from a third place finish at the World Cup with the Netherlands, Van Gaal got to work. Straight into the marked for some big names likes Falcao and Di Maria, United fans could barely believe what they was witnessing.
Van Gaal’s first season had up’s and down’s and United lacked consistency, there would be run of 8 unbeaten and then no wins in two or three. Targets met, Manchester United finished 4 and qualified for the champions League once again.
The second season under Van Gaal’s stewardship was going well, by the end of November Manchester United were 3rd and one point of top of the league Leicester City. However the standard of football was awful and something Manchester United fans had not witnessed in a long time.
The turgid, possession based, risk free football would ultimately be Manchester United’s downfall that season and a torrid, winless December had see United slip to 6th in the league.
Manchester United finished 5th and a good FA cup run would see them lift the trophy at Wembley but it wasn’t enough to save Van Gaal’s job and he left, somewhat, on a high note.
The one name on everyone’s lips all summer for the managers job was Jose Mourinho, the fans were baying for him form the end of the December 2015 and then at the end of May he was appointed.
This was job he always wanted and he had finally got his wish. Jose in his own right is one of the worlds finest managers and one of recent history’s most successful.
Every where he has been he has been successful. At FC Porto he conquered Europe twice in two seasons, knocking out Manchester United along the way, and after that day the world knew the name Jose Mourinho.
With two spells at Chelsea he won the three league titles, one FA cup and three League cups making him the most successful manager in their history. At Inter Milan he was loved, swept all before him Serie A and once again conquered Europe and he did it with a team that was no world beaters.
His move to Real Madrid saw him lock horns with Pep Guardiola, another fabled manager from the Barcelona school of Cruyff taught football and the encounters were explosive to say the least.
Barcelona would be the dominant force in La Liga but Mourinho would still have successes. One league title and one Copa Del Rey win to add to his collection.
What about the man himself, well Mourinho is a master tactician, who demands 100% commitment from his players and if he doesn’t receive it he will call them out, publically, if needed as we have seen on occasions this season already with Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling. He is not afraid to challenge players, in order to improve them.
He is a fighter, he will back any of his players in order to protect them from press criticism and he does have a siege mentality, us versus them which Manchester United are so famous for. This is going to be a perfect match right?
Over the summer United loosened the purse strings for Jose to dip into the market and he certainly did that bringing in Ibrahimovic on a free transfer, Eric Baily from Villarreal who was being scouted by half of europe, The silky Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Dortmund and of course he brought Paul Pogba home from Juventus.
It certainly started that way, the curtain raiser at Wembley would yield his first piece of silverware and then three wins out of three in the league would see United back where they belong, fighting at the top end of the table.
Its been an indifferent campaign so far and United sit 6th in the league and six points off 4th. Three league draws at home, in games that Manchester United have dominated has seen frustrations boil over. Jose has already received two touchline bans and refused to speak to certain media outlets.
credit Sean MacEntee
Already I have seen some ‘fans’ wanting Mourinho out, absolutely ludicrous. The transition period from the Van Gaal era was never going to be a smooth one, players that had been drilled into playing a certain way now need to be re drilled to the Mourinho way, the right way.
A good League cup run and Europa League qualification has seen this transformation start to take shape, the only thing that worries me is the rotation policy, this seems to take its toll on consistency, although it now looks like Jose has his core selection sorted and this is showing in recent performances.
Flowing attacking football, goals and entertainment, it’s the United way. He has also rejuvenated players like Phil Jones, and it feels like he is a new signing along with Marcos Rojo. Jose has finally unleashed Henrikh Mhkitaryan on opposition and what a player he looks.
Jose can handle big players, he has done that all his career and there is no one better at getting the best out of his players, getting players to die for the cause and if you don’t buy into it, you wont last.
Ander Herrera is a prime example, non stop running, winning possession and looking after it and also getting forward and creating chances. Blood, Sweat and tears. he embodies Manchester United and he is not the only one.
Jose has always got the best out of his squad and he has not finished re shaping this current crop of players, the pull of playing for Manchester United is big enough but also knowing your going to be playing for and learning from Mourinho seals the deal.
The football being played this season is fantastic, better than anything seen from the Old Trafford faithful in the past three seasons and I can vouch for that.
Jose Mourinho has always had a fractious relationship with some of the press, but he is more inviting that Van Gaal, this is Manchester United and the world is always watching so they need to be able to charm the press when needed and at the same time, stand your ground and defend what you believe in. Jose is perfect for this, its the combination of the charm and siege mentality that the great Sir Alex had.
Fortunes are turning at Old Trafford, it was never going happen over night, but the return of free flowing, attacking, entertaining football coupled with big name arrivals and the greatest youth policy in world football shows this.
Jose Mourinho is the man for the job, no question about it, I guarantee he will get it right, but he will do it his way, no one else’s. It’s not going to be easy so dig in. It’s Us versus Them like the good old days for Manchester United.
Can you see Manchester United improving? Where will they finish? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Aleksandr Osipov