Jose Mourinho deserves more credit than he is getting at Manchester United in 2018
Manchester United provided yet another week of elated joy to their fans after wrapping up their arch-rivals Liverpool at the Theater of Dreams. A brace from their starlet, Marcus Rashford, saw them cruise past the Reds who failed to register even a single shot on target in the second half despite having more than 70% of the ball possession.
United have now won four games against the so-called "Top Six" of the Premier League this season, as they still await a visit to the Etihad and their home game against Arsenal in the coming weeks. In contrast, the Red Devils only managed to win two last season.
Mourinho's men have probably cemented their place in the top-four with their victory on Saturday and are still competing in the Champions League and FA Cup. Next week, they play host to Sevilla and Brighton in back-to-back knock-out matches.
The coming week could define United's season. If Jose's men manage to make it to the quarter-finals of Champions League and potentially pull out an FA Cup title in May, their season could be termed to be a satisfactory one.
However, there is no relief for the United boss, as his tactics have been at the centre of criticism throughout the season. His pragmatism has been criticised severely by pundits and fans equally. Focusing so heavily on his side's defensiv duties and thereby limiting his attacking players has been questioned immensely by everyone related to the sport.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils' recent performances have yet again proven the Portuguese's genius in the technical area. United have managed to shut out the likes of Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah to deprive their opponents of all the creativity and win all the three points at the final whistle.
They currently boast the second-best defensive record in the league and have conceded only seven goals at home in the league so far. What fans are failing to acknowledge is the fact that Jose has transformed a team struggling for the Champions League places into a team able of challenging for major silverware. He has brought a winning mentality back, which seemed to have eluded the club since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013.
Managers like Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino and Jürgen Klopp who play the desired attacking football have failed to win even half the number of trophies that Jose has won in his "boring" spell at Manchester United.
Although it is admissible that a club of United's stature should be winning trophies every year, it also needs to be remembered that this United team was filled with a number of underperforming players when Jose overtook the job at Old Trafford in 2016.
The roles of those players have largely deteriorated, with most either struggling for first-team spots or leaving the club entirely. Moreover, new additions like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku instill fear among the oppositions and provide learning opportunities for talents like Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial.
Additionally, he has managed to bring great performances out of players like Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, to name a few. His man-management has effectively transformed some injury prone players into promising prospects for the club in the years to come.
Jose was courageous enough to take up such a challenging job in 2016. A job where he would be placed under the immense scanner for every decision he takes while being in the office. Not to mention the fact that the Portuguese was sacked at Stamford Bridge halfway into the 2015/16 season, after lifting the Premier League trophy just months before in May 2015.
Under Ferguson, the club was accustomed to a fearless and attacking style of play for over two decades which was almost unmatched across Europe. They had also won countless matches from losing positions in the dying moments of the game.
Manchester United fans are evidently having a hard time adjusting to the new ideas Mourinho brings in the post-Fergie era, but they have to understand that Sir Alex was the greatest manager ever for a reason. The exact concept of the Scotsman would never be replicated by any manager, no matter how hard they may try.
A change in management always brings a somewhat new philosphy to the club, which can lead to a major clear-out in terms of players, coaching staff and more. Every manager needs the backing of the club and the fans in order to deliver to their expectations.
It is difficult to imagine this criticism existing had United been sitting at the top of league table, despite having played such a monotonous brand of football all season.
Would United fans be happy if their club was netting four or five goals week in and out but remains on the fifith or sixth spot in the league? Would they entertain an early exit from the FA Cup or Champions League just because they wanted to see a flourishing style of football?
If the answer to that is yes, Jose should well and truly be sacked. Whatever the feeling might be at Old Trafford, they cannot ignore the fact that Mourinho has done a tremendous job at the club in merely 20 months since his employment and the credit needs to be given where it is due.