Manchester United has gone through a small rough patch in recent years following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. David Moyes was thrown into a doomed team and Louis van Gaal could not inspire the team to the levels he had hoped for. With Mourinho coming in, a manger lined with success in English football, a more positive attitude looks to be implemented at the club. Van Gaal had a philosophy that some players, Victor Valdes for instance, could not grasp. Mourinho, however, has a set of “principles” which he believes the players are getting hold of based on the team’s performance in the 2-0 win against Wigan at DW Stadium.
“I’m happy with some principles of our play – offensively and defensively – that we worked on in training.
“I could see them there, but not in a perfect way because conditions is not the best…10 days of training sessions, accumulation of fatigue, no sharpness.
“This takes time but I could see different things; they started thinking football the way I think and that pleased me.
“Everybody played, everybody had a positive performance, so I’m happy.”
The short trip to Wigan provided a look-in for fans to see the return of Luke Shaw and the debuts of Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and even academy prospect Axel Tuanzebe. With everyone able to play a role in part of the match, Mourinho is showing that he is open to giving youth players and those who do not generally see time on the pitch a chance to show what they are capable of. Will Keane and Andreas Pereira, who do not get much attention in the first team, both bagged a goal each in the 2-0 win. This flexibility shown by Mourinho is promising for some of United’s academy players who may have thought they stood no chance breaking into a first team managed by “the Special One.” The look-ins against Wigan could even book a spot for some players in the trip for the summer tour.
United go to China on a pre-season tour where the club will play Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City followed by a trip to Sweden to play Galatasaray. The summer tends to fly by and United will have to adjust to Mourinho quickly if there is an attempt to go for the title or repeat as FA Cup champions. The goal for the pre-season should be to develop players and set up a team to be strong when the regular season rolls around, which begins early this season for United in the Community Shield against Premier League champions Leicester City. Mourinho appears to have this mindset about the pre-season fixtures and acknowledged the level at which Wigan plays at compared to that of United.
“I could see things, I could see things that they start identifying and trying to play my football because in the end the players they tend to play the football their managers want them to play, they tend to adapt to it and I could see the players trying to go in the direction I want them to go and do things I want them to do, by the defensive point of view, by the attacking point of view, so I am happy.
“I know it is a Championship team and they are in the same process we are, a training process and so thank you very much to Wigan players and manager to give us the training session we need at this moment.”
The players have to trust Mourinho, which did not appear to be the case with Van Gaal during his two seasons in charge. This season provides the chance for change and an opportunity for United, under the orders of Mourinho, to get the players on board with an ideology that can bring back the Premier League trophy to Old Trafford. Many of the players have opportunities to impress Mourinho in the coming month and prove that they have a place in this team. A team with the potential to win it all.