The savior, Jose Mourinho, has come. For a Manchester United fan base starved of entertainment and success, this statement carries with it truth, mystery, and a hope that through this highly successful football manager United can return to the top.
The club will have expectations for Mourinho. Mourinho will have expectations of himself. The players will have expectations of Mourinho and of themselves. But above all the fans will have expectations of the club, the manager, and the players who have the honor of donning the Manchester United kit. An excellence is required for those who are employed by, lead at, and wear the kit of Manchester United.
In his book entitled Leadership, Sir Alex Ferguson describes in detail his desire for excellence and the expectations he set for his squad. “I was always careful about setting specific, long-range targets. I would never say, ‘We expect to win the League and two pieces of silverware this season.’ First, it conveys the wrong message, because it sounds cocky and arrogant. Second, it applies a lot of additional pressure on everyone without any real benefit. Third, it sets everyone up for disappointment.” (Leadership, 2015, pg. 113)
The new Manchester United boss’ admiration of the old Manchester United boss is no secret; Mourinho is an admirer of the Great Scot. “I have a lot of respect for Ferguson. I call him boss because he is the manager’s boss.” Mourinho is a winner. He’s won 21 trophies with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid. Over a 12 year span, almost unmatchable by any manager, save for Sire Alex Ferguson. Ferguson won 15 trophies from 1993-2000, retiring with a whopping 49 trophies.
Since Ferguson’s retirement, however, things have not gone as planned. One trophy in three seasons, three separate managers in those three seasons, and a transfer agenda that has left fans with more questions than answers. Expectations have been tempered, no doubt, by League finishes of seventh place, fourth place, and fifth place, and even though the history of club never determines where it finishes in the new season, at United it is hard not to expect everything. The good thing for United fans? That is exactly what Mourinho wants; everything. At his unveiling as the new manager, Mourinho said, “”I’m not humble when I talk about targets, I’m quite aggressive on that. I want everything and everything is to win matches, play well, score goals, don’t concede goals… everything. I want everything. I know that we are speaking about a hypothetical situation which is very difficult to reach but I want everything.”
Mourinho has been a breath of fresh air with his focused comments bringing confidence to all those who hear him. The man exudes confidence and his resume backs up the fact his arrival has been a warm breeze on a damp, cold 3 years at Old Trafford. As the time gets closer for Mourinho and his chosen team to deliver the goods, I am sure he’ll take a page out of Ferguson’s book in what he expects from his team. Ferguson said, “It was much easier to say, ‘At United, we expect to win every game,’ because that was the case from about 1993 and it also conveyed the spirit of the club. Making sure everyone understood that we expected to triumph in every game set an agenda of excellence and allowed me to regularly administer booster shots of intensity.” (Leadership, 2015, pg. 113)
So what should United fans expect from Mourinho in his first season at United? Will his sacking at Chelsea in their disastrous defense of their title last season have any effect on the manager? Will he be given the funds he wants to build the team he needs to accomplish his goals? Will United fans trust the Portuguese enough to continue building if his first season does not go as we all hope? Do you expect Manchester United to win the Premier League this season?
In the end, United has part of the quality already needed to once again lift the Premier League trophy. This, mixed with the new additions and those still to come, should put United in the driver’s seat with the aim to win every match and come January, be in the right place to fight for the title. Twenty English titles aren’t easy to come by and neither will #21. But if anyone can deliver on big expectations, it’s the man who is currently called Manager at Manchester United.