On Saturday afternoon at Old Trafford, Arsenal got a last-minute draw, fans have somehow turned against Jose Mourinho even comparing him to the former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal. Yes, United are sixth in the league and the result was not a pleasant result for any United supporter based on the way the game went and how they conceded the equalising goal. However, what doesn’t make a lot of sense is the way fans are turning onto Mourinho about the results. Back in May, many United supporters had doubts about the Portuguese, the way he would treat the players, his relationship with the media and fans, or even who he would sign in the summer.
Supposedly, Juan Mata’s future was in doubt and plenty of other unpleasant things that were expected to happen at Manchester United. As the summer passed by, United, under the management of Mourinho signed four top class players including the return of the prodigal son, Paul Pogba. For all those United supporters comparing Mourinho to Louis van Gaal, they should remember well, the unstudied signings we made under him, spending millions yet finishing top four only in his first season in charge.
Players have always been a hot topic when it comes at United. It’s true that Jose Mourinho has criticised his players in public, but it doesn’t mean that he isn’t right in what he says. A lot was said in the media about the situation of several players including Manchester United vice-captain Chris Smalling, who reportedly refused to play since he wasn’t fully fit along with teammate Luke Shaw. We all know that Mourinho has always been questioned about the way he does things, actually in every decision he makes there will always be someone that will be against him, even if it turns out to be the best for the squad.
To all of those protecting the two, have they ever thought of the players’ attitude problems? Antonio Valencia is an incredible player and what made this even more believable is that he returned early from injury just to help the team on the right side, where quality is lacking, something that both England players didn’t do. One of the problems Mourinho has had in the previous teams he has managed is exactly the players’ commitment towards the club. This is an important issue because no player is bigger than the club and more than fear, Mourinho is teaching the players the figure of authority.
So far, so good, since they haven’t had this in the past two seasons, as Van Gaal would always make controversial decisions regarding the players. Generally speaking here, but we all know who the Dutchman’s favourite was and how that affected several players. One of them is the player is that is mostly enjoying life under the Portuguese. Yes, that’s Ander Herrera, who has found his best form at United, captaincy material who is incredibly passionate in what he does and has been key in the midfield, making it impossible for Mourinho to bench him without a reason, like Van Gaal used to. That’s the Mourinho effect, reviving a player’s career, who recently debuted with his national team, Spain, a huge achievement that Mourinho didn’t forget to mention in his press conference.
However, there are unhappy players at United and a few names come in mind, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan stands out as he hasn’t started a game since the Manchester derby in September. It might be another attitude issue as Mkhitaryan has been declared fit for a long time, but hasn’t had the minutes he was hoping for. Is Mourinho handling his situation right? I’d say yes, because he trusted him in an important match like the Manchester derby, but his display in that match was terrible, many of us were pointing the finger at Mourinho as to why he started the Armenian. Now, they want him to play, but where?
Juan Mata is amazing on the right-wing and you just can’t send Paul Pogba back into a defensive midfield position just because the fans want Mkhitaryan in the starting XI. Those two positions are now on the right track and Mkhitaryan isn’t just part of it. No one can say that Manchester United are playing in a boring way. They are struggling to find the back of the net, dropping points in the way they did against Arsenal, but as Mourinho stated, this team is unlucky. It’s not just this game either, United had 37 shots against Burnley but failed to score a single goal. How is that boring? They play quickly; they fight for the ball, but still struggle in the final third. That surely has nothing to do with Mourinho or has it?
United are for sure a better team than they were last season, but the media and many Mourinho critics refuse to accept this since they don’t like to be wrong. Maybe United do not have the points they deserve, but the media will always turn against them and Mourinho. He has the pressure of the media, and that’s why he isn’t friendly to them. Success isn’t built and achieved by satisfying everyone and doing it in their way. A manager like him isn’t afraid to say what he thinks for the sake of a good relationship with the papers or the FA. Not always right, he always protects the team and fights like hell to make them successful. Always having something to say about the controversial decisions of the referees? Why not?
The poor refereeing this season has affected several games yet no one bats an eye about this and Mourinho is always punished for speaking the truth. What I can surely say is that he has won the fans’ heart with his apologies for that loss against Chelsea. Praising them many times, Mourinho knows the importance of the fans for the club. He has the right words to say for them but also careful as he would not make the same mistakes as Van Gaal, by stating that the expectations are too high on United. We can all agree that this isn’t a Mourinho team but he is doing his best to get Manchester United back into the top four and to fight for the title.
This team has suffered in the recent years due to bad management, because they weren’t fully focusing at the club. Manchester United isn’t an average club, but there will always be tough times where the situation is not all that good, but things change. The team has not found their best form and Mourinho has pressure on him, placed by the fans and the media. This comes not just because of the necessity of getting United back in top four, but also manage players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba on their way to success. These three players need the ‘Special One’ to guide them to become key players and have a huge impact in the game.
Mourinho, better than anyone knows this and that’s why I want my fellow United fans to be patient with him, especially young fans not used to periods such as this, only seeing success under Sir Alex Ferguson; it seems like an easy job on the outside because Sir Alex made it look like that, but at United every word you say matters. Mourinho needs everyone’s trust to do this because managing a club like this, is a beautiful dream indeed, but it can turn into a nightmare if everyone is against you. So the best way is to stop whining about everything and stand behind the manager because he needs his own fans to trust him and be patient.
Written by Fabiola Cejku