“The United Way” to return to Old Trafford under Jose?

Louis van Gaal did not follow “The Manchester United Way”, neither did David Moyes and that was, as per a lot of fans, the main reason for their downfall. With Jose Mourinho all set to take over the coveted position, it might be worth looking into if the Portuguese is any likelier to follow the United way. But first things first, what is, this much spoken about, United way of playing football.

For many, it is the youth tradition that the club has built over the years but for many others it is rather more technical; playing with fast wingers and counter attacking football. It is basically a subjective topic. But the most important definition or more appropriately, a component of “The United way” is winning and not just that, with free-flowing and entertaining football. So can Jose Mourinho, who has been (in)famous for “parking the bus” for winning, get in line with this United way?

It might be harsh on former Chelsea manager if his playing style is defined by this phrase. A lot of things that Mourinho knows about the footballing management were picked up in his stint under Van Gaal, so it is understandable that some of his tactical decisions and playing style have been adapted from the Dutchman’s handbook. However, there is one vital difference in both of their approaches. Van Gaal tried to adapt his players to his playing style or “philosophy” as he liked to call it. Mourinho on the other hand goes about the business in a completely opposite way. Current United manager is more used to adjusting his strategies as per the player at his disposal rather than the other way round. This is why he is more likely to follow the famous United way and succeeding at it, than the previous United manager.

Exactly for these reasons, the upcoming transfer season is going to be extremely vital in deciding the way Red Devils will be set up. The fact that he outscored the Barcelona team, which was considered as one of the best Barcelona teams of all time, says volume about the attacking mindset and playing style that Mourinho can instill in players. But things have not always been the same. In his second stint at Chelsea, he relied heavily on defensive solidity of his team. What defines, which way his playing style will shift, is the talent at his disposal. Real Madrid has always been abundant in attacking talent and it was not difficult for the manager to design the playing style around the forwards but at Chelsea, it was the defense which was easier to build the team around.

If Mourinho does manage to get the players that he wants at United, including a senior striker like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been heavily linked with United since the arrival of the Portuguese, it is very likely that he will like to indulge in an attacking style of play. If reports are to be believed, Mourinho wants to strengthen the spine of the team by bringing in some decent midfielders and also strengthening the defense further. If he does succeed in his plans and get the players that he wished for, one can be almost sure that Old Trafford will see much more goals than what they have been used to seeing in the past three years. Sir Matt Busby once told a young Sir Bobby Charlton:

“All those lads you see going to the factory in Trafford Park, they come to watch you on Saturday, they have boring jobs, so you have to give them something they will enjoy.”

This is what the United Way hinges upon. Mourinho has been written off, for abandoning this principle much before managing his first ever game for United. People should hold on to their horses as they might be in for some surprises the coming season. With Mourinho coming on the back of two failed regimes, under managers who were termed as ineffective and rigid, he must have seen how the fans turned their backs on the managers only because of their style of play, especially the last one. He will like to ensure, that he has a team which can play that attacking and attractive football, that the United fans have been spoilt on, over the past several years. The fans have been deprived of the goals and such football for almost three years now and they will be looking forward to the coming season, hopefully, the manager can stick by “The United Way” and provide the much-needed relief.

Written by Chinmay Padhye


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