Jose Mourinho: The rise and fall of the Special One at Manchester United
The great Sir Matt Busby once said, "I do not worry about conceding goals because I know my forwards will double it at the other end". Indeed it was the reason why Manchester United was loved by one and all: their attacking flair of football, not holding back even after being a couple of goals down, added time winners, etc.
Old Trafford, the sporting cathedral had been spoiled by the exploits made by the legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson who boasted of 13 Premier League titles and 2 Champions League titles. After his retirement, came the downhill road for the great club with the likes of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal having nothing much to offer.
Then comes a man with a black coat in 2016 having won innumerable championships and titles wherever he went and suddenly United's fans started believing on the self-proclaimed 'Special One'.
Currently, nearing the midway of his third season, the fairy tale seems to near the usual conclusion which we have been so often witness to. The tale starts off with a bang with winning titles and eventually wearing off due to his off-field dramatics in contrary to winning. The same thing happened at Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and its happening all over again at Manchester United.
The first season of Mourinho's stint was somewhat better compared to the previous seasons United had endured. He made some big name signings like Zlatan, Bailly, Mkhitaryan and Pogba. He rotated the players on a regular basis which ensured he handled the player's injuries well owing to the tight schedule of games.
Defensively that season United stood second best conceding merely 29 goals. He went on to win the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League but somewhere participating in multiple fronts drained the players mentally.
He could visualize that they weren't winning the Premier League that season and winning the Europa was the only way of qualifying for the Champions League next season. At the end of the season, it was obvious he would shed off many of the first team starters with the likes of Memphis, Darmian, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger being shown the door soon.
But most importantly his infamous 'Parking the bus' style of play was heavily criticized by many football pundits.
In the second season, Jose was devoid of titles. Post-Sir Alex Ferguson-period although it was the first time United finished second place, they were adrift by 19 points behind their bitter rivals Manchester City.
But they were only a gap of 3 points between second placed Mourinho's United and David Moyes' seventh-place United during the 2013-14 season. There wasn't a much noticeable improvement in their style of play with draws being the usual outcomes.
The January transfer saw Alexis Sanchez coming but couldn't gel properly with the fans hoping he could turn the tables come the third season. They also finished runners-up to Chelsea in the FA Cup losing to a Phil Jones conceded penalty.
The 2018-19 season started and with it brought the infamous third season-syndrome of Jose Mourinho. They have started really poorly with United currently sitting in 10th spot after 9 games and 12 points adrift of current League leaders Liverpool.
The players don't seem motivated and too many controversies haven't helped the team either. When they lost to Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 at home which was the biggest margin of defeat at home, a furious Mourinho demanded “respect” from journalists who were bashing him for his style of play.
He held up three fingers for the 3 Premier League titles he’d won before adding “I won more Premier Leagues alone than the other 19 managers [in the league] together.” They are already out of the Carabao Cup and winning the Champions League seems a distant dream for Jose's United.
Club legends Paul Scholes, Lee Sharpe, Rio Ferdinand have also slammed his poor defensive tactics which has seen scoring a minimal number of goals. His continuous blame game and continuous criticism of his players have led to the players being low on confidence and struggling.
His wish to sign more players this summer have not been fulfilled with Ed Woodward opposing him against his wish. Then the Pogba fiasco added more spark to an already depleting season with Mourinho stripping Pogba off vice-captaincy.
He again complained against the board after the loss to Juventus saying United must spend to join the elite gang. His outdated style of defensive play has led to more fan discontent and an unmotivated group of players.
Will Jose Mourinho be sacked? This question has been made far too often this season with replacement rumours going on. Maybe after three sheepishly boring seasons, United wanted someone at the helm who could counter Guardiola and who better than Mourinho.
They hired him with lots of aspirations which seem to go down the alley as every matchweek progresses. It is to be seen that for how long the board is willing to back him until it reaches the seemingly gruesome conclusion.