Jose Mourinho came with a big reputation when he was announced as the Manchester United manager, having won trophies with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Understandably, most of the fan base were thrilled, believing he was the right man to lead United back to its glory days after three years of gloom and doom.
However, some of them were a bit sceptical, looking at his teams’ style of play and his record with the youth. Now that Mourinho has completed a full season at Manchester United, it’s time to rate his first season at Manchester United on various aspects of management.
In terms of getting players in, Mourinho was brilliant. Signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic for free was a smashing move, and he proved so with the goals he scored this past season. Eric Bailly turned out to a solid defender, some fans even finding similarities between him and Vidic.
Record signing Paul Pogba, had a rough start but eventually became an important part of the United’s midfield. And Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who was initially phased out of the playing 11, did show his brilliance on the field, though sporadically.
Overall, Mourinho was spot on in the transfer window. In terms of getting players out, the most notable ones were that of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, who were not getting much game time under Mourinho.
Mourinho was successful in phasing out Wayne Rooney out of the starting line-up respectfully, a thing which Louis van Gaal was unable to do in spite of Rooney’s poor form. Mourinho handled Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial well, phasing them out for a while and bringing them in to extract good performances from them.
The handling of Bastian Schweinsteiger did not look great at the start of season when he was exiled from the squad. But he was brought back in and was given few games before he was shipped off to America. Mourinho’s public outburst against Luke Shaw’s commitment levels did bring the best out of him before he got injured. Overall, his man management was risky, but it paid off.
Mourinho’s team played a a free-flowing attacking style of football, creating lots of chances, but were let down by poor finishing, which ultimately meant they missed our on the top four places. His team also had the second best defence in the Premier League.
However, his tactics against the big teams was bit worrying, playing a pragmatic style of football and not going for the win. There is no problem playing the defensive style sometimes in a game when the opposition is at the top, but parking the bus for the whole game and not going for the win is a bit silly.
His record against the top 6 teams was woeful. He needs to improve his tactics against the big teams next season. Overall, it has been a hit and miss in terms of tactics.
Using the youth players: 4/10
Youth is not a term synonymous with Mourinho. Except for Rashford, he didn’t call the youth until and unless it was an absolute necessity. Axel Tuanzebe got his first start of the season against Arsenal when Valencia was injured. And then he was played in the midfield when Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini were injured. Timothy Fosu-Mensah made few substitute appearances before getting injured.
In the last league match against Crystal Palace, a clash which did not have much significance for United, Mourinho handed first league starts to Josh Harrop, Demitri Mitchell, Scott McTominay and Joel Pereira along with Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. But the youth players did well when call for action, as it was evident from the Crystal Palace match which United won 2-0.
With Alex Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah looking ready for the Premier League, a bit more game time was expected to be given. It seems Mourinho has issues trusting the youth players. It is hoped that in the next season, Mourinho will build a bit more trust with the younger players and give them players more minutes to play.
Tournament Prioritisation: 6/10
Mourinho was going for all four competitions Manchester United were in, as it was evident from the strong starting line-ups in all four competitons. Players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Antonio Valencia got injured due to excessive action, which did hamper United’s league campaign.
United went on to win the League Cup and reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Mourinho took the risk of playing only for the Europa League after it was evident that it would be a daunting task for United to finish in the top 4 and winning the Europa League was the better option to get into next season’s Champions League. And it paid off massively as United went on to win the Europa League; only the second English side to do so.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Overall, Mourinho’s first season at Manchester United has been a moderate success, having won the League Cup and get into the Champions League by winning the Europa League. But with the team he had at his disposal, he should have done better in the Premier League.Published 14 Jun 2017, 11:50 IST