Jose Mourinho‘s mission impossible at Manchester United
All the speculation of whether Louis van Gaal would lead Manchester United in the 2016-17 season has been put aside. The Dutch manager was sacked and the mercurial maverick Jose Mourinho replaced him in the Old Trafford hot seat. Securing the Manchester United job was easy but the real task of bringing glory back to Manchester United is going to be difficult.
With the arrival of Pep Guardiola in the blue half of Manchester, this seems like an act of desperation by the Old Trafford hierarchy.
Jose has done it all, won it all. Wherever he has managed he has been a champion. Be it the league championship and domestic cup wins with Porto, Chelsea, and Real Madrid or the treble of winning the league, the domestic cup and Champions League with Inter.
As a matter of fact, he was the last person who denied Pep Guardiola a league championship win, when Real Madrid triumphed over Pep‘s Barcelona and won the 2011-12 league title, by 9 points.
Title success at United will not be easy
But the task of reviving Manchester United back to Champions status is more difficult. United endured a torrid time in front of goals and ended the 2015-16 season with just 49 (their lowest tally in the Premier League era). Coupled with this was the boring style of play, which United employed for most of the 2015-16 season had drawn flak from supporters and former players alike.
The sloppy performances against Sunderland, West Brom and the other so-called smaller teams of the Premier League proves Jose has a real job in his hands. Not only does he need to ensure United play an exciting and attacking brand of football but also that the club does not slip up against the smaller teams. The other big issue that Jose needs to resolve is to put an end to Manchester United‘s disappointing performances in European competitions.
The last time Manchester United played in a European final was way back in 2011 and, the last time they won one was in 2008. Surely a club of Manchester United‘s stature cannot afford such a barren run in European competitions. Jose will get a chance to fix this when he leads Manchester United in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League
But the real challenge for Jose Mourinho is to re-invent himself along with the club. He has been known as a defensive-minded manager who likes his team to play on the counter with pace and he likes his team to be compact in defence while maintaining the shape.
The best example of this was Inter Milan‘s Champions League semi-final performance against Barcelona in 2010 when they successfully defended their first leg lead despite being down to 10 men for more than 50 odd minutes of the match.
Defensive displays will be a worry for United fans
The Manchester United faithful won’t mind solid defensive displays but surely they won’t accept dull passing games as seen in 2015-16 season. Manchester United have always been about attacking and entertaining football and Mourinho would do well if he sticks to the Manchester United way of attacking football.
The other big criticism labelled against him is that he isn’t a big fan of youth development, which is in stark contrast to Manchester United ethos of youth development. United pride themselves in making superstars from raw youngsters and Mourinho somehow needs to get in line with this philosophy in order to be a success at United. The former Chelsea manager needs to try and build his team with the rich talent pool that is available at Manchester United, rather than just spending millions in the transfer market.
To top this all Mourinho‘s off-field antics and clashes with the press in his previous clubs are also something the Manchester United hierarchy do not entertain. They prefer their manager to deliver on the field with attacking football and trophies rather than indulge in a war of words with opposition managers in press conferences.
The Manchester United job had been one that Jose always had an eye for. And now, that he has been appointed to restore the glory days back at the club, also giving him an opportunity to erase the memories of the horrible season he had with Chelsea last time around.