Manchester United have come a long way since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. The David Moyes era passes by quickly, thankfully. The Louis van Gaal stepped into those shoes, did well during his first season earning UEFA Champions League football, but his second season did not go to plan with boring football and poor play infecting the squad and United finishing the season in fifth place, albeit on goal difference to Manchester City, once again out of the Champions League for another season, but in the Europa League instead. The past three years have been bad, based on the fact United were competing for silverware every season with Ferguson, seldom not achieving that. United did win the FA Community Shield under Moyes, the Emirates FA Cup under Van Gaal and so far, the Community Shield once against under Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United have been mocked by everyone over the last three years.Opposition teams coming to Old Trafford and taking points away with them, something which they had not done for many years. The fear factor disappeared like a Manchester City fan inside the Etihad Stadium. The media ripped United apart for everything they did wrong, which was a lot at times. Players came and left, not settling in or performing. The whole period seems to have been mostly a failure, which is a shame. Rebuilding, especially after a manager like Ferguson is always going to be hard. Some teams who have mocked United, namely Arsenal have all this to come, but to be honest, their success is not actually all that great as they have not been in direct competition for a league title for twelve years now, with United’s last title just over three years ago.
Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole feels that the fear factor has already been brought back to the Theatre of Dreams, purely on the basis that Mourinho has instilled confidence back into the United squad and strengthened it with winners like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba, not to mention Eric Bailly who has done a great job at the club so far. Over the past few years, the fear factor has been missing, teams taking advantage of United at Old Trafford, the media mocking the club and rival supporters laughing as the most hated club in the world doing a Liverpool, which all seems a bit far-fetched and wishful thinking. Now, with the fear factor returning and the hate factor coming back with a bang, the former United striker has spoken about it returning. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:
“I’m hoping the good times are returning and you can certainly see a swagger. All the players are talking about what he (Mourinho) wants to win. The few games we’ve had so far you can see the fear factor returning and that’s what Manchester United is all about. These past few years teams have gone to Old Trafford believing they can win. When you played under Sir Alex Ferguson teams would just hope they wouldn’t get beat by five. Mourinho is bringing that back now and they’re starting to look like the old United.”
With Jose Mourinho at the helm at Old Trafford, for the next three years, hopefully, more as stability is the key with managers, and it looks like the United job has changed Mourinho for the better. Cole spoke about the Portuguese manager reminding him of Ferguson, which has to be one of the biggest compliments one could ever receive, based on the success the Scottish manager brought wherever he went. With the Manchester Derby kicking off on Saturday afternoon, with Mourinho going head-to-head with Pep Guardiola, one of the other world-class managers today, Cole spoke about the similarities between Ferguson and Mourinho. Cole, speaking exclusively to 888Sport, said:
“Mourinho and Guardiola are both very good managers and both achieved so much but Jose has the same great aura about him as Sir Alex. When you look at what he’s done in the game – going to Italy and Spain and doing it out there – and now he’s trying to emulate his phenomenal record in England.”
Being compared to Ferguson, whilst doing the job he left just over three years ago must be a huge compliment. That fact that Mourinho stepped into Louis van Gaal’s shoes in May, had his first signing, Eric Bailly, across the line soon after, then Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived, closely followed by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, then shortly after that, a world record signing bringing Paul Pogba back to the team he left four years before, that sort of thing would have been unheard of without Ferguson at the helm, if it would have happened with him leading the club. Mourinho seems to have come in, clicked his fingers and got things moving quickly. That then saw confidence at the club rise, in turn, the winning mentality has come back, with the feel good factor, the fear factor and the immense hate for United from rival clubs. Business seems to be back with a bang and soon back to normal.
Read the full 888sport interview with Andy Cole, including his thoughts on how Marcus Rashford can become an Old Trafford legend.