Manchester United are considering offering Jose Mourinho an extension on his current contract to allow the Portuguese manager a chance to build a dynasty at Old Trafford.
Despite being just six months into a three-year deal, the United hierarchy are convinced by Mourinho’s impact so far and want to ensure he stays beyond his initial deal. The former Chelsea manager has never stayed at one club for more than three years, but United are confident Mourinho wants to stay at the club for many years to come.
Manchester United have endured a difficult start to life under Mourinho and will occupy sixth place in the Premier League on Christmas Day. Despite some poor results, United appear unwavering in their support of their manager and this decision to back Mourinho to succeed over the next decade or so only reinforces the longstanding ideals at the club that were thought to be lost when Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were both dismissed for failing to qualify for the Champions League, suggesting United had abandoned visions of long-term stability and instead opted for short-term success. Appointing Jose Mourinho seemed the perfect fit for such a philosophy; almost certainly guaranteeing a trophy or two before an inevitable implosion cost the man his job and prompted an ignominious exit.
Yet here we are. As we take stock of the current Premier League season, two games short of the halfway point, Manchester United aren’t exactly well-placed in the title race. Mourinho isn’t top of the league at Christmas. He isn’t even close. He’s sixth. Thirteen points off his former club Chelsea who lead the way so impressively. Forget winning the league, Manchester United are four points behind the team in fourth place. That final Champions League spot, the benchmark by which his predecessors have been judged at this club, even that is in doubt. There have been no guarantees in Mourinho’s latest role.
So for United to want to extend Mourinho’s stay already, despite the touchline bans and poor results, suggests the club are in fact looking to the future. It is rare, in this day and age, for an elite football club like Manchester United to see beyond the present moment, to look beyond results and understand the bigger picture. It would have been easy for United to sanction the tried-and-tested Mourinho model. The finances are in place and the hunger and desperation in a deprived fan base would have allowed Ed Woodward and the Glazers to stray from the United heritage. But they didn’t. In a battle of wills, Manchester United came out ahead of Jose Mourinho. As it should be.
As for the man himself, he is excited about his future and has already spoken of his desire to stay beyond his current contract. While he has ruled out signing a new deal right now, he says the decision to put pen to paper in the future is a no-brainer.
“They are being super supportive with me, and always gave me the feeling that three years is not the time I am going to stay here, I always had the feeling that I am going to stay for more time.
“They know that I’m loving it, at every level, I’m loving my job at Manchester United, and they know that if one day they bring the contract, I will sign it, I don’t even need my advisers, I’ll sign because I am loving it.”
The contradiction between Mourinho’s reputation and Manchester United’s history was always central to the success of his appointment when he replaced Louis van Gaal. United supporters expressed three valid concerns about the 53-year-old, three concerns that Mourinho has made concerted efforts to address in his short time at the club.
Would Mourinho continue the proud tradition of playing academy players? Could he adapt to the stylistic demands of the club and play adventurous, attacking football? Does Mourinho have the capability of staying at one club for longer than three years and building success over a long period of time?
— The MUFC Academy (@mrmujac) December 17, 2016
The first question is easily answered. Yes. While the signing of Paul Pogba has helped Mourinho maintain United’s impressive record of including one youth product in every squad, his willingness to include Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Timothy Fosu-Mensah regularly has impressed supporters and reassured them United’s traditions are safe in his hands. Axel Tuanzebe and Ro-Shaun Williams are just two of the current crop of youngsters that have trained with the first team under Mourinho’s stewardship, while he still speaks highly of Andreas Pereira who is out on-loan at Granada. It could not be more apparent that Mourinho is prepared to embrace United’s rich and emblematic history.
After two years of Louis van Gaal’s process, supporters were adamant that United must entertain at all times, even if they cannot win every time. Mourinho paid lip service to this expectation in his early press conferences as United boss, but actions would speak louder than works. Six months in, it is clear that Mourinho truly does understand the traditions of the football club and United’s performances, despite the results, suggest a commitment to adventurous and risk-laden attacking footballing that the fans can be proud of.
“We have to try to win as much points as possible, keep playing this way because this is the way we want to play. That’s our decision. In some clubs you can play bad football if it is winning football, in some other clubs you cannot do that. Manchester united is one of these clubs where winning matches is not enough so we have to win and play well.” – Mourinho speaking after United’s 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion
The third and final doubt over Mourinho can only be addressed if the first two are successful. Should Mourinho prove a success in his three years at Manchester United, he will be asked to stay. At that point, we will see his true identity. Has he changed? Can he emulate Ferguson? If the last six months are anything to go by, the aura of Manchester United really is strong enough to completely redefine the man we once knew. This is a different Jose Mourinho.