Will Jose Mourinho get the chance to build a Manchester United legacy?
Jose Mourinho often talks about legacy. He talks effusively about Sir Alex Ferguson and his history of success. More surprisingly, he has also spoken in glowing terms about recently departed Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, in the same vein.
What Ferguson and Wenger have in common is two decades at the helm of two of England’s most successful clubs. Mourinho is respectful of this history and displays a desire to be afforded the opportunity to work a long-term project himself – to achieve a one club legacy to match Ferguson and Wenger and the likes of Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly before them.
Mourinho has branded this long-termism regrettably “impossible” in the modern game where success has to be instantaneous for a manager to remain in post.
As he enters his third season in charge at Old Trafford, Mourinho likely needs to deliver silverware in order to remain in post for a fourth year, given the trophyless finish to 2017-18.
But, what is success in the modern game? Jurgen Klopp is revered by the media as a genius, but for all Liverpool’s exciting play, he doesn’t have a trophy to show for their efforts, just runners-up medals.
Mauricio Pochettino has been touted as a potential Mourinho successor at United, but Tottenham is also trophy-less under his tenure and defeat to Mourinho in the FA Cup semi-final highlighted that in the biggest games, his side comes up short. They have the media and fans onside but the trigger fingers of their employers may become twitchy, should silverware continue to evade them.
Mourinho has spoken of his wish to build a dynasty at United and a will to remain at the club beyond his current contract should he be afforded the opportunity.
It is interesting to hear Mourinho speak in these terms and his new-found public respect for Wenger demonstrates an admiration for those who can stay in a position of power for so long that it is they and not their employers who decide when the time is right to step away.
However, it isn’t the first time, Mourinho has spoken of “dynasty” in relation to one of his clubs.
At the beginning of his second term in charge of Chelsea, Mourinho spoke of his wish to end his nomadic managerial career in which he had spent no more than three years anywhere and build a dynasty at Chelsea. That wasn’t to be but Mourinho does have the opportunity to do so at United.
Will he still be United manager in 2030 or 2040? Probably not, but there is no reason to suggest he can’t be at the helm in 2025.
What Mourinho has been at pains to point out recently, is that he has already begun to build his dynasty at United. The style might be different but the winning habit remains. Three trophies in two years with a narrow defeat in the FA Cup to Chelsea speaks of progress and the possibility of more to come.
He might not spend 25 years at the helm but what is certain, is that Mourinho will leave his own inimitable legacy on United. It could yet be a dynasty.