Jose Mourinho - No longer the 'Special One'?
A lot of questions are being raised about Jose Mourinho lately. Is he still good enough or has he really been left behind?
For more than a decade now, Jose Mourinho's name has been synonymous with success. He is still the most successful manager in Chelsea's history and every Inter Milan fan has fond memories from his time there. He is a serial winner and is someone who almost always guarantees results.
Jose's track record and his winning mentality are the reasons why Manchester United hired him. After Manchester City announced Pep Guardiola as their manager, United had to respond, and what better way to do so, than hiring the serial winner himself.
But, lately, there have been questions raised about Jose Mourinho's tactics and his team's playing style which have been further brought into the spotlight because of the results Pep Guardiola has been achieving this season.
Too defensive? That's not new
Jose Mourinho is being criticised for being too defensive specially against the fellow big teams. The term 'parking the bus' has been associated with many of his teams. Many critics are questioning whether he still has it in him to reinvent himself in order to compete with managers like Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino, Pep Guardiola etc.
Question marks have also been raised about the way he seems to be handling his players and playing them in the wrong positions. Even Manchester United fans have been complaining that Pogba is being played deeper than he should be, and that the team is not playing in a way associated with Manchester United.
However, all of this was rather well known when Mourinho was first appointed. His teams have never played with high possession. Instead, his teams have always been at their best at counter attacking football. Mourinho always makes sure his teams are defensively strong and prides himself in shutting out opponents. So why are the pitchforks out in so much force now?
The answer is pretty simple. Results and the success of his main rival. There were question marks over Manchester United even last season, but ending the season with 3 trophies helped in brushing aside any doubts.
2nd just not good enough?
Even though United are second in the league as of now, there does not seem to be much optimism for this season. United were used to winning the league under Sir Alex Ferguson and the same was expected of Mourinho, considering his track record in the English game.
Mourinho is being questioned even though his team sit second on the table, because they have not played as well as everyone expects them to, and because of the results Pep Guardiola is delivering across town.
It would have been acceptable to be in the second spot but to be so far away in terms of points is not acceptable, especially when the team at the top is Manchester City.
But is it all really Mourinho's fault? There is no doubt that Jose Mourinho can make his team play a bit more expressively. His tactics in many games could have been better, and he can make much better use of the players at his disposal.
But, Manchester United's struggles are not down to Mourinho only. Their squad is still not balanced enough. There are a lot of players still in the squad who are not really in Mourinho's plans and it will obviously take some time to put together a squad according to his liking.
Another summer transfer window could make him and his side unstoppable
The last summer window was a start. Signings like Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic are the type of players he prefers. Even Pep struggled last season without a squad capable enough to implement his tactics, and after signing players of his choice, they have been unstoppable.
There is no doubt that this phase is one of the most challenging phases in Jose's career so far. There are questions marks over him and he has a lot to prove again, but to call him past it now would be premature.
When his tactics work, they seem to be a stroke of genius and that is the case with every manager. Even Zidane is being questioned this season after winning back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles.
Jose Mourinho needs another summer transfer window before his reign at United can be judged in absolute terms. Jose Mourinho may not be the most special one around at the moment, but he is still amongst the very best.