Saturday, April 17, 2021

Can Jose Mourinho bring back the glory days to Manchester United?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League, FA Cup 20 May 2018

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Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea’s in the FA Cup final on Saturday evening. The display seemed to typify United’s weaknesses, as they struggled to find a way past a resilient Chelsea.

In terms of how the season has gone for United, it has to be said that they have now been the bridesmaids, rather than the brides in the Premier League and the FA Cup. Their Champions League campaign was more like a blind date that went terribly wrong.

One of the main men responsible for United’s weaknesses and seemingly laboured approach is managerial legend, Jose Mourinho. No doubt he has been a great boss in the past, but he has received major criticism from some sectors for his time at United.

Spent a fortune to produce poor football

Admittedly, when Mourinho joined the Red Devils, they were at a low ebb. However, the Portuguese boss had big resources at his disposal to transform his squad. It was not as if he was expected to work miracles on a bargain basement budget.

United are now closer to the top team in the Premier League in terms of league position. However, in terms of style of football and quality, they are a million miles away from Manchester City.

The huge sums of money spent on Romelu Lukaku or Paul Pogba should have brought the team closer to winning the Premier League title. Granted, it has seen the Red Devils finish second, but it could be argued that the team is not playing any better than prior to Mourinho’s arrival.

The club may have returned to the top-four under Mourinho. However, the Portuguese boss’ pragmatic style of play has not met with universal accord from the media or more importantly the United fans.

Mourinho’s man-management in question

Manchester City may be a cut above the rest, but United have spent much more than the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham, to finish just a few points above the pair. Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp have reputations for their abilities to develop players, in Pochettino’s case young players in particular.

Although a top boss, Mourinho has reputation for buying readymade players, rather than developing players. A number of supposedly talented players have struggled for top form under Mourinho at United.

United seem to have good exciting players like Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, yet it does not seem like Mourinho can get the best out of the players. That brings Mourinho’s man-management into question.

Rashford’s development under Mourinho has been particularly concerning from the player’s point of view. The England international may have to move elsewhere to fulfil his supposed potential.

Former players have mostly spoken very highly of Mourinho and his managerial abilities. However, his style of play and confrontational nature is not for every player, especially youngish players who may need an arm around them when obviously struggling for confidence.

Mourinho may never be a massive success at United

When Jose Mourinho became the Manchester United boss, it looked like the ideal appointment for the Red Devils. United needed a world-class boss to attempt to return to being title contenders once again.

No doubt, Mourinho is a top boss, the fact he has won so many trophies illustrates that perfectly. However, the way the wheels came off at Chelsea in two spells also shows that he is susceptible to losing the players under his guidance.

The Portuguese boss is unlikely to ever change from his pragmatic style of football, which has proven pretty effective throughout much of his managerial career all over Europe.

However, Manchester United fans were accustomed to attacking football under managerial Sir Alex Ferguson for so long that it has been hard for the fans to adjust to football that is more cautious in recent seasons. Fergie knew when to be pragmatic, but more often than not, his teams knew how to entertain the fans.

Since early in the season, United have not looked at their best going forward. They have ground out many results in typical Mourinho style, with defensive displays, rather than sparkling displays of attacking play.

The odds for winning the Premier League for next season are interesting. United are odds of 6/1 to win the title next season, third favourites behind arch-rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, which does not scream progress to me.

Mourinho may win games at United, but I have a gut feeling that he will not be the man to return United to the pinnacle of the English game.

Can Jose Mourinho bring back the glory days to Manchester United?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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