Arrival of Jose Mourinho
On 5th July 2016, Jose Mourinho was unveiled as the new manager of Manchester United, succeeding Louis Van Gaal. This appointment of the Portuguese received mixed reactions from many United as well as other clubs’ fans.
Most of the people said that it’s a great move for the Red Devils and Mourinho while many suggested that the Portuguese was not fit for United. Moreover, this appointment of the former Porto manager sparked a lot of criticism from Chelsea’s fans. Mourinho had previously won three Premier League titles with the Blues and now he was with their title rivals.
In his first season with the Red Devils, Mourinho landed a couple of big names to Old Trafford such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. Other than these two players, the Portuguese also signed Eric Bailly from Villarreal and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund.
Many United fans got quite excited about these signings and others got shocked. The shock came because the Red Devils were playing in the Europa League and not in the Champions League in the 2016-17 season.
This first season of Mourinho with United turned out to be quite successful. The Red Devils started from winning the Community Shield after defeating Leicester City 2-1. After this win, Mourinho’s side defeated Southampton 3-2 in the EFL Cup final at Wembley. This win made the former Porto manager, the first Manchester United manager to win a major trophy in his debut season.
In this particular season, United failed to perform in the Premier League and the only way to qualify for the Champions League was to win the Europa League. Mourinho knew that a top-four Premier League finish was out of the question. So, he shifted his whole focus on winning the Europa League.
The Red Devils didn’t disappoint their manager and fans as they lifted their first Europa League trophy after defeating Ajax 2-0 in the final. This was Mourinho’s second major trophy with United in the first season. These two trophies and a Community Shield win made the Portuguese first season with the Old Trafford outfit pretty successful, judging by the standards of his predecessors- van Gaal and David Moyes.
It also increased the hopes of the United faithful. Many started stating that the former Chelsea manager would take Man Utd back to the glory days. The Red Devils which we all knew, the one that used to win major trophies and games.
Tough Competition in the League
In the second season with United, Mourinho failed to win a single trophy and finished on the second spot in the Premier League. Many people criticized the Portuguese because the Red Devils were 19 points behind the league winner, Manchester City. Moreover, his tactics and game plan were subject to constant criticism.
We all know that the former Porto manager likes to depend on his defense more than his attack. Despite reservations from a chunk of fans and the media, Mourinho did guide Man Utd to a top four finish.
Non-Cooperation from the Board and Players
From the beginning of 2018-19 season, Mourinho knew that to compete against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool the club had to spend big. Especially on the defense and midfield. The Board, however, didn’t think the same. This left the Portuguese with no option other than performing well with the players he had in his side.
During this time, Mourinho had a stiff relationship with few United players such as Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba. The “Special One” resorted to blaming the players for defeats and kept them out of a number of important matches.
This method of Mourinho did work as Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial started performing well on the pitch. The relationship with Pogba, on the other hand, deteriorated.
Most of us might not agree with Mourinho’s method of treating the player in such a manner when they are out of form. There was, however, nothing wrong in his approach to Pogba in my opinion. The Frenchman did have some attitude issues and the Portuguese did comment that he couldn’t let the player take over the dressing room. This was the same thinking that Sir Alex Ferguson adapted when he was the in charge at Old Trafford.
What led to sacking of the Portuguese?
Following all this, United kept underperforming in the Premier League and their latest 3-1 defeat to Liverpool raised a lot of questions against Mourinho. The board’s patience with Mourinho and the underwhelming results was growing thinner. This resulted in the removal of Mourinho from the manager post of Manchester United on Tuesday.
This sudden big move from the United board did come as a shock to a lot of people and it also started a debate of whether this is a good decision or not. Many people also started discussing that who is going to be a new manager and successor of Mourinho at Old Trafford now.
Why should we support Mourinho?
Many United and other football club supporters claimed that removing Mourinho was a great move from the Red Devils. However, we all must understand what the Portuguese brought to this club during his two- and half-year spell.
Maybe his “defense first” strategy was a bit old in comparison to the attacking game plan of other Premier League sides. However, we all have to see the kind of players he had in his side. Leaving the strikers there is no other midfielder, who can increase the pace of the game.
Many of us said that build a team around Pogba but when the player is only not performing then what can a manager do about it. Also, the Frenchman doesn’t have the pace that is there in the clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester City.
When Mourinho wanted to sign players, Ed Woodward didn’t let him participate in the transfer window. So, how can we criticize him for the underperformance of the Red Devils?
Moreover, he did win a couple of major trophies for United and tried his best to get them on top again. Yes, he didn’t succeed in doing it, but does that mean, we forget all the good things he did to this club? If the players are not performing then no matter what the manager will bring to the table, he will always fail.
I will leave you with this note. Now, it’s upon you to decide that whether Mourinho deserves our respect or hatred. For not making Manchester United of what it was during Sir Alex Ferguson reign or for trying his best in making the United supporters smile for a short period of time.