The Special Red Devil
On the 27th of May, Manchester United , the club with the largest fan base in the world appointed Jose ‘The Special One’ Mourinho as the head coach of the football club. The news might have come as a disappointment to a large number of United fans across the globe as the Red Devils always boasted of a manager who had been everything Mourinho isn’t. Naturally, for United fans and supporters, their benchmark for judging a manager has always been Sir Alex Ferguson and rightly so (Considering the fact that he has definitely been their most successful manager). But then, Mourinho is a football manager and not a diplomat running for Senator. His attitude is what makes him singular and different from the rest of the managers in the game. And the same attitude might be the reason for his criticism by millions around the globe. Mourinho has taken charge of the club after a disappointing spell under Louis Van Gaal which saw them finish fifth in the Barclay’s Premier League and not posing any serious threat to the top teams of the League (including Leicester City).
What Mourinho can boast of:
Like it or not, Jose Mourinho has already gone down as one of the most successful football managers in the hhistory. Yes, he might never be titled ‘Sir’ , but has done enough to be regarded highly by football players and fans alike. Before Manchester United, Mourinho had managed six clubs namely Benfica, Uniao de Leira, Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid. And statistically speaking he doesn’t have a bad roster either. He won the inaugural FIFA world coach of the year award in 2010 when he was with Inter.
At the beginning of his managerial career at Benfica, Mourinho showcased a perfect example of his dynamism by not complying with the Benfica officials and choosing Carlos Mozer, a retired Benfica defender as his assistant manager. He left the club after a falling out with club president Manuel Vilarinho, who later expressed his regret saying that he shouldn’t have let Mourinho leave.
Mourinho enjoyed a brief managerial stint at Uniao de Leira leading them to their best finish in the Portuguese league before being appointed the head coach of Porto in January 2002. From there on-wards, his winning ways started. In ten seasons of club management, Mourinho has led his club to win its domestic league eight times, the UEFA Champions League twice and the UEFA cup once. Between 2003 and 2012, he did not go a single calendar year without winning at least one trophy.
Mourinho has also been known to keep a very high win-ratio and the statistics speak clearly of it. With Porto he had a 71.65 % win-ratio winning 91 out of 127 games. With Real Madrid, he had 71.91 % win-ratio winning 128 out of 178 games. In the more competitive Premier League, he had a 67.03% win-ratio in his first spell at the Stamford Bridge, winning 125 out 184 games played.
Between 23 February 2002 and 2 April 2011, Mourinho went 150 home league matches unbeaten: 38 (W 36–D 2) with Porto, 60 (W 46–D 14) with Chelsea, 38 (W 29–D 9) with Inter Milan and 14 (W 14–D 0) with Real Madrid.
What Mourinho can incorporate at United:
Mourinho is hailed as one of the biggest tacticians of the game and rightly so. He takes an avid interest in player positioning and movement both on and off the ball.His quick in-game reactions pose a huge threat to the opposition as he is a very fast reader of the game. He incorporates well thought-out offensive strategies in his methods laying special stress on pacey, counter-attacking football. His Real Madrid side went on to score 109 goals in a single league season and provided he completes re-constructing his squad by the start of the season, he might be able to do a similar thing at Old Trafford as well.
Being the expert analyst of the game he is, Mourinho has always preferred the classic 4-3-3 formation alternating between a central defensive midfielder and a central attacking midfielder wherever he deems fit. His style of play comprises of carefully analyzing the strength of the players at his disposal as well as their weakness .He does his homework before big games and seem to almost always correctly predict the opposition’s game play. He has always been willing to take chances and his formation is subject to change if he thinks even one out of ten outfield players won’t fit into the game plan.
Mourinho has inherited a talented bunch of young players in Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay and Marcus Rashford, and might try to build a team similar to the one he had in Milan with a 4-2-3-1 formation. United, initially lacked the specific type of midfielder Mourinho has always kept in his team to provide added stability to the defence line. At Madrid he had Sami Khedira playing in a deep Centre defensive-midfield position, preventing the full backs from getting exposed in case of swift opposition breaks. However, the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund answered a lot of questions about Mourinho’s midfield plans at United. He has experienced attackers in his side in the likes of Captain Wayne Rooney and recently acquired Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With Rooney playing the role of a number 10 attacking midfielder, Mourinho will definitely build his team around the England veteran, playing Zlatan as an out-and-out striker. United also acquired 22 year-old Eric Bailley from Villareal who will look to be the first choice centre back for the Portuguese manager.
In all of the clubs Jose Mourinho has been in, he has never failed to make his mark. His methods might be similar to the ones he deployed earlier in his career. Or he might also turn to a brand new strategy in his mission to emerge victorious with United. Whether he comes out on top or not, is what is left to be seen but one thing is absolutely certain. With Mourinho at the helm, there are always going to be surprises.
Jose Mourinho makes the headlines for his accomplishments in the footballing world but also undergoes major scrutiny every season for what can be described as ‘an obsession to win’. It might sound blunt, but yes, all he cares about is winning each and every game and he doesn’t actually care about winning gracefully. While that might be damaging to the spirit of the game, in no way does it imply that he is bad at his job.
What United need to give him is time. The responsibility of filling Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes is a big task even for the ‘Special One’ and only time and patience from the management, club officials and fans will yield results.
Mourinho might just be what United need right now. Quite like the Club, the Portuguese manager has had a poor run of form in recent seasons. And maybe it might just work out. Maybe the Special one will fit in with the Special club.
And maybe, in a couple of years from now ,Mourinho might bring back United’s lost glory.