If you’re in any way, shape or form associated to Manchester United then this past week of results have most definitely been ones you will not have a very fond memory of. Three straight defeats in a row has meant the pressure on the back of Jose Mourinho has been clamped up a notch or two and the bookies have slashed the odds on the Portugal-born manager facing the sack. However, the superiors at Old Trafford are reportedly still fully behind the man in charge, since they are convinced he will bring long-term success.
After a superb summer transfer window which seen the club bring in an experienced trophy winning Premier League manager, one of the greatest goal-scorers around, the Bundesliga Players Player of the Season, a hot prospect in the form of Eric Bailly and pay mega bucks to make Paul Pogba’s return become reality, the morale surrounding Old Trafford was seemingly mightily high. The suggestion of the feel-good factor being back at United was soon backed up by the players as they went on to win four competitive fixtures in a row. It was quite a contrast to the misery David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal had eventually injected into the club in their respected eras.
But, unfortunately for Mourinho and co a trio of losses has meant a small taste of scepticism as to whether he is the right man for the job has crept in. Rival fans are enjoying this mini-crisis the Red Devils are enduring, labelling the Portuguese manager a ‘finished man’, especially after Chelsea’s breakdown last season – which resulted in him losing his job. Although, reports suggest the belief in Mourinho at United remains strong – and that they believe he is the closest they can ever get to the great, Sir Alex Ferguson.
To reach the heights of Ferguson would be a monumental ask of any manager and the likelihood of an era such as that one to repeat itself in such ways is very small indeed. Mourinho is not known as a manager who sticks around at a club for long periods of time, however, he has stressed his love for the Barclay’s Premier League and a challenge – and is there a more challenging job in the footballing world that managing Manchester United Football Club? It would be hard to say yes, particularly with the club being in this current state.
By no means do I expect the ex-Real Madrid, Porto, Chelsea and Inter manager to remain as long as Sir Alex Ferguson did or win as many trophies at Old Trafford – but do I feel he will remain for longer than his current contract suggests? Yes, I do. Do I believe he is the man that can return United to their trophy-winning ways? Despite this past week or so, I still do. Football has the tendency to prove people wrong and I certainly cannot tell the future, so I will not be ashamed or surprised if I am incorrect, for that matter.
Mourinho certainly has an uphill battle on his hands, but he is a determined character with a point to prove himself, so failure will not be an option in his mindset. Reports suggest the United squad are still brainwashed by Louis van Gaal’s style of football and are having difficulty snapping out of it – personally, I think that is evident in some players on the field – as there often seems to be an air of confusion surrounding the team. It will take time, success will not return overnight – but what we have witnessed against Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford has not been acceptable. All three games endured spells where Mourinho’s men were on top and looked half decent, but ultimately United were poor in each and every one. People will say ‘he has had the same amount of time as Pep Guardiola’, that is a valid point – but who’s squad was more ready-made? Who’s had the most work to do? In my opinion, the answers to both of those questions go against United’s favour.
Jose Mourinho may well be the man that takes Manchester United to the big time, once again. Thinking about sacking him right now is pure stupidity, there is no man in football who could replace him – people will say Diego Simeone or Carlo Ancelotti – but there is no way that they would leave their respective clubs, at this current moment. The likes of Ryan Giggs are not yet ready. In fact, I cannot believe I am even getting drawn into this discussion because Mourinho getting sacked should not and will not happen. In the long run, Mourinho is arguably the right man for the job, after all his record speaks for itself, he is still learning about his new team and what he needs, he is still applying the remedies to David Moyes and Louis van Gaal’s scars. But, it is way too soon to suggest it will be a Ferguson like era. For the record, I believe that no manager will reach those exact standards – but, could he be the next best thing for United? I guess so, although at this stage anything along those lines has a large question mark looming over it.