Jose Mourinho’s best hope for silverware with Manchester United will be in the Europa League next season, according to former striker Teddy Sheringham.
United confirmed the departure of Louis van Gaal on Monday and are expected to appoint former Chelsea boss Mourinho as manager this week.
Van Gaal won the FA Cup final in his final game in charge but failed to secure qualification for the Champions League, meaning United will spend next season in Europe’s secondary tournament.
And Sheringham, who won the treble under Alex Ferguson in 1999, says a focus on that competition will be Mourinho’s safest bet to deliver early success at Old Trafford.
“It’ll be tough for Mourinho to win a trophy in his first season and the Europa League title is probably the best hope,” he said, as quoted by The Mirror.
“The league stages of the competition aren’t too hard, so United should fly through that while he’s assessing his squad and figuring out his desired starting line-up.
“He’ll also have the chance in January to dip back into the transfer market if necessary and hopefully towards the latter part of the season United will be hitting top gear.”
Sheringham believes Mourinho’s experience of winning Premier League titles with Chelsea will stand him in good stead, but he expects United to fall short of challenging for Leicester City’s crown in 2016-17.
“The Premier League may be a step too far in his first season, based on United’s performances this year, but you never know,” he said.
“If he can get things rolling and clicking very quickly then those odds will tumble. Mourinho is proven. He knows what it takes to win the league, giving him the edge over Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Antonio Conte at Chelsea and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp – but it’ll be very difficult.”
Van Gaal paid the price for inconsistent results and a refusal to change his much-maligned style of play, but Sheringham expects Mourinho to be more willing to embrace United’s demands for attacking football.
“Van Gaal has not lived up to expectations. The legacy of Sir Alex Ferguson might be making it very difficult for other managers to come in after him at Old Trafford and compete,” he added. “Now it’s not just about winning games, it’s about winning them in style.
“He [Mourinho] has a winning reputation and more than anything, United have to get back to winning ways – yet it has to be done with style. Mourinho has been around English football long enough to understand that.
“He knows what people expect. That winning mentality is there for all to see, but he’ll be clever enough to change his philosophy and get into the Manchester United mould.”