October Takeaways: Mourinho is who we thought he was

If the month of September was a raging party for United supporters, then the month of October was the giant wet blanket. A sobering thirty-one days that saw the Red Devils manage to only score seven goals and secure thirteen points from a possible eighteen. However, while the previous two months were damn near perfect, the new reality of this United team can be a positive. It allows supporters to see their team more clearly now that the beer goggles have faded away. In order to aid their sobriety, here are three takeaways from the month of October.

Paul Pogba sized hole is hard to fill

Going into this season, the thought of Pogba going down injured terrified United’s supporters. Following his brilliant start to the season, no player was more important. So, when the big Frenchman went down in United’s first Champions League game, you can forgive United supporters for fearing for the worst. While United certainly haven’t imploded, there has been a noticeable difference without him in the lineup.

Fellow contributor Jonny Webb did a great job of detailing how Pogba’s absence demonstrates his importance to this United team, and I have to agree. While both Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera have had their moments in Pogba’s absence, neither are the complete midfielder that he is. Without him, far too much of the playmaking has fallen onto the back of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and his recent dip in form would suggest it is wearing on him. Herrera is tireless and Fellaini provides United with a unique attacking outlet, but Pogba’s ability to break through a midfield and play a killer ball is unrivaled in world football. He possesses a unique combination of skills which Mourinho has built his team around. While his return is still unknown, Mourinho will be desperate to see him return.

Mourinho is who we thought he was

The Special One has been branded a lot throughout his career. For every arrogant, selfish, and negative tag, you can find leader, tactician, and winner being tossed in the Portuguese’s direction. What we have seen from Mourinho throughout his career, especially this last month, is that he is all of these things. He morphs in and out with ease and is comfortable wearing any label you throw his way. During the month of October, we saw the many faces of Mourinho. At his prickly best following a difficult loss at Huddersfield Town, while demonstrating his supreme confidence in a huge win over Tottenham. Mourinho will never be who you want him to be, instead, he is who he needs to be.

While many in the press have crushed him for his “negative” tactics against Liverpool, what did they honestly expect? Jose Mourinho has managed in the spotlight for a decade and a half, nobody should be under the illusion that he was going to play out of the back and into United’s rivals hands away from home. He knows that won’t win him any titles. What will win him trophies is to orchestrate a game plan against Spurs that bypasses their strengths and focuses on their weaknesses.

From the second Mourinho walked through the door, nobody should have been under the impression it was the return of the Ferguson era. Because Mourinho will never be who you want him to be.

United keep finding a way

While the month of September saw United raining in goals and shutting down their opponents, the first potential cracks began to show this October. The month’s first match was a 0-0 verse Liverpool and was followed up with a drab 1-0 over Benfica and a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield. Faced with mounting pressure from a hyperaggressive media, United turned it around and won their next three matches. Even though the performances haven’t been much better, United being able to find a way is a huge positive.

Last season was marred by dropped points in winnable matches. It seemed a team that wasn’t ready to deal with adversity and lacked depth. This season, United’s ability to win ugly matches and come through when they have to is a big positive. The points United dropped were their ultimate demise last year, but if they can keep coming away with wins when things are not clicking United should be able to sustain a credible title challenge.

The good news for United supporters is that Jose Mourinho has been here before. Whether it was while managing Real Madrid, his time at Chelsea or his not so humble beginnings at Porto, the man has seen it all. So when United’s dominant start to the season became mired with less than stealer performances, forgive me if the boss doesn’t sweat too much.


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