The scene was set this summer for a battle of Manchester to take place between two of the greatest football bosses of their generation.
Pep Guardiola was appointed as Manchester City boss, while Jose Mourinho rocked up at Manchester United.
Unfortunately for one-half of Manchester, it is not looking like the predicted title battle will take place.
United are floundering in eighth place, while City are top, albeit after a poor run of form under Guardiola.
Mourinho not himself at United
Jose Mourinho has proven down the years with various clubs that he is a top-class boss. Anybody that claims he does not just needs to read his CV. There are not many active bosses that can get near the Portuguese boss in terms of trophies won.
However, the usually arrogant, bolshie Mourinho has been missing this season at United. Results have obviously not gone his way in recent weeks. However, even in the face of poor results Mourinho never seemed to doubt himself.
Maybe even the great Mourinho’s confidence took a knock due to his poor stint at Chelsea last season. Maybe the former-Real Madrid boss is starting to doubt his own ability, highly unlikely I know from his previous behaviour.
However, Mourinho is only human and when things go wrong in life everybody questions themselves. Even that god among men Zlatan Ibrahimovic must now be wondering if he is past playing top level football after his recent struggles.
You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear
The above saying applies to the current United squad. Adding Zlatan Ibrahimovic Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba to the United squad was like polishing a turd. In truth, despite the amount of spending since 2014, the Red Devils squad were never really equipped to challenge for the title.
A club can spend however much money they like. However, if they do not bring the right players in it is wasted money. Is Paul Pogba a good player? yes, he is and will probably go on to prove that for United.
He won’t, however, improve those around him. He will not make Marouane Fellaini into a world-class player or make Michael Carrick four years younger, though. Fellaini may be a decent player, but is a player that could playing in a title-winning team?
Throughout the team, they have players who are not quite up to standard. While good managers can improve player’s performances, they can only take a team so far. Former boss Sir Alex Ferguson was a master of getting the best out of average players.
Unfortunately for Manchester United, Mourinho is not. He can make good players into better players, but can he really turn Jesse Lingard for example into a top player? I highly doubt it, as the winger may never reach the required standard.
That is not me picking on the winger. I was just using him as an example of why Mourinho and the current set of players are not working. United have some very good players, but player for player they are behind rivals Manchester City for example in quality.
In comparison, it is not hard to see the difference. It’s like comparing Juan Mata to David Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Sergio Aguero or Jesse Lingard to Kevin De Bruyne. The United players simply do not compare to their City counterparts.
United need a result at Swansea
Manchester United visit struggling Swansea on Sunday afternoon in a game the Red Devils are odds of 3/ 4 to win. The fact that the odds are relatively short illustrates United’s form in the last few months.
One win Premier League from their last seven top-flight outings is not a great record. A win against Swansea may just prove to be a catalyst to improve for the Red Devils.
United are in desperate need of a result from somewhere. Mourinho has not become a bad manager overnight. Somewhere under his expensive suit, there is the Jose Mourinho who used mind games so well in previous campaigns and won all that silverware.
There is nothing in his past that suggests he ever would ever give up, but Mourinho’s body language has not been great of late.
The Manchester United job was never going to be easy. In fact, it may well be Mourinho’s biggest managerial challenge in the last decade, despite the resources available to him.
Jose Mourinho has always come across as a fighter and I highly doubt he is going to shy away from the challenge that lay before him at Old Trafford. Good luck Jose it seems you might need it!
Can Jose Mourinho turn things around at Manchester United?