Are Manchester United better off without Jose Mourinho?
- Short answer: No.
Long answer: Nooooooo!
Not many managers in footballing history have been subjected to as much scrutiny over the years as Jose Mourinho, and not any club in history (yes, including even Real Madrid) has been subject to as much expectations as Manchester United.
Add the two in the same equation, and you have yourself a perilous concoction. A defeat to last year's promoted team in the second game of the season certainly does not make things any easier.
This brings up the question, which has been brought up so many times in the last two years: Should Manchester United part ways with Jose Mourinho?
The opinions of the fans are split on this issue, and it is not hard to imagine why. The elitists, who place importance over the style of play than everything else, want him gone for inducing sleep even against the most non-threatening of opponents. The pragmatists, who don't care about things beyond the final result, side with him as natural allies.
That is where the problem has come up. After winning the EFL cup and the Europa League in his first season (but finishing far off the leader in the PL), the trophies dried up in the second season.
An unlikely loss against Sevilla in the UEFA Champions league, a drab loss in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, a magical season by Manchester City in the Premier League, and a shocking loss against Bristol city (You had forgotten all about that, hadn't you?) in the Carabao cup meant that Mourinho finished without a trophy in his second season at the club.
This, after having spent 165 million euros in the summer, plus the acquiring of Alexis Sanchez in the winter, was sure to make some die-hards question his appointment. And with the new season not even 3 games old yet, the opposition is back in full swing.
Is it justified though? Is Jose Mourinho responsible for his players not even being able to complete a pass against Brighton? Should he be made the scapegoat every time his band of players put in a miserable performance?
There is no question that it is not the right way to proceed. If the Portuguese is not responsible for every win, but the players, then the same should carry over when it comes to losses.
Therein lies the problem. For someone who cannot simply get off the limelight, and hogs as much of the media attention as possible, the distinction ceases to exist. As Mourinho builds up every win as his very own, so should every loss.
At any other club, this is a good thing. At Manchester United, a club where it is more a requirement than a privilege to win every game, it is infuriating. It rallies up the neigh sayers; it adds fuel to the fire that Mourinho is past his prime; it is inevitable.
But every time someone says that Manchester United have become worse under Mou, one cannot help but laugh at the exaggeration of the truth and their attempt at rewriting history. Has everyone just forgotten about the sole year under David Moyes where their only plan was to cross the ball into the box, hoping that Marouane Fellaini would save them?
Are we just going to pretend that Louis Van Gaal's 350 million euros expenditure and his 34 different plans to cross the ball into the box did not exist? Do you not remember Phil Jones being the designated corner taker?
The truth is that the Red Devils are far better than they were under either of them. The unfortunate thing is that they are far off from being the team they were under Sir Alex Ferguson. The reality is that they will never be that team again.
After Pep Guardiola won the PL title last year in scintillating fashion, some 'pundits/fans' came out of the woodworks and suggested that United should have gone for him instead of siding with Mourinho.
As much as everyone would like the idea of time travel, Manchester City had gone for Pep long before his arrival. He had been contacted even during his Bayern days, and the backroom staff that would help him in his journey had been procured even before then. Pep was never on the menu, even if everybody convinces themselves otherwise.
Under the circumstances, Mourinho was their best option. No Champions League football, a club on the transition from possibly the greatest manger to ever walk out of the tunnel, and it was a miracle that Jose's relationship with Chelsea soured at the same time.
There is no doubt that United's football at the moment is not very attractive. Mourinho's football is, was, and will always be 'negative' - which once again is such a stupid idea to call one form of football negative and the other attractive.
There are different tactics and to each their own. A regimented defence can be just as beautiful as fluid passing of the ball if done properly.
Guardiola did not win the league in his first season with City, and the media did not attack him half as much. Jurgen Klopp is yet to win a major trophy with Liverpool, and they shower him with nothing but praises. Mauricio Pocchettino has been coming of age far longer than others, and you hear nothing about him.
Why? Does playing attacking football abdicate one of all sins? If defending is a legit part of football, why is defending seen as negative? If trophies matter, why do they not matter only when they are lifted by Jose's arms?
It is hard to replace a legacy as large as Ferguson's, and certainly not in a matter of years. Football has come a long way since then, and the funding that goes into it has grown by leaps and bounds.
Manchester United are not the only club who can pump in the cash. England is not the only league where you can achieve overwhelming success. Things will only get harder from here on, and no club will hold on to a manager for 2 decades anyway.
To be fair, Mou does deserve some of the criticism that gets thrown his way. That is the price you pay for antagonizing the media at every turn and picking fights with almost everyone on the way.
But to call Mourinho a disgrace to United is to pretend that the previous disgraces did not exist. To say Manchester United have gotten worse is to forget just how bad they were before his arrival.
Mourinho has been a serial-winner for so long, and minor glitches will not dampen his legacy so quick. Turn off your TV sets all you want, whine on twitter all you like, but the bus will get parked once more, and the smug smiles will be flashed once more. Mourinho is here to, and should, stay.Published 24 Aug 2018, 12:05 IST