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Jose Mourinho & Manchester United | A match made in heaven, doomed for hell?

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Image Courtesy: Gettyimages

Jose Mourinho & Manchester United | A match made in heaven, doomed for hell?

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Rahul Dev Bose


It’s time, to call time on the atrocious few years of pain and embarrassment that a club like Manchester United has had to endure at the hands of managerial ineptitude. Or so feel the Manchester United faithful as news broke on the back of Manchester United’s FA Cup triumph that the Manchester United board has approached “the Special One” to take over at Old Trafford, a matter which is probably going to be resolved soon (perhaps already is by the time you read this). Jose Mourinho, much to the delight of supporters, is seen as the man to lead them out of the myriad of inconsistent results and identity crises that the team has suffered.

There are some matches that are made in heaven. Manchester United fans would be willing to believe that Jose Mourinho’s ascension to the throne at Manchester United is one such match. The most decorated club in England, at the hands of the Serial Winner; a Special Club with the fiercest following in England with the most Ferocious Manager in the Game. The fallen angel is set to drink from the poisoned chalice and the results will at the very least be interesting.

Many would believe he is the right man to take Manchester United forward and not without reason. Jose has been a winner of titles, trophies and plaudits no matter where he has been over the years. However, there are always whispers of what he has brought in to clubs in a not very positive sense. Whispers, that have only grown louder over the years, with the list of disgruntled people growing longer and angrier.

It is rather interesting, this dichotomy that Jose Mourinho carries around with himself, which is absolutely fine. Most managers have their pros and cons but it is indeed ‘context’ which makes a choice in football (or in life for that matter) in any form, the least bit justifiable. So, if one really needs to deconstruct the viability of Jose’s appointment, we need context. For it is in context can we really fathom the extent to which the pros a manager brings to the table are balanced out with the cons. It is necessary to understand what Jose brings to the table and at what price. So let us begin.

What do Manchester United need?

For beginners, Manchester United needs someone who will get the fans on board. A Football Club is only ever as strong as its supporters’ faith in it. It is the fans’ mindset that rules some of the biggest decisions of any football hierarchy when it comes to matters on the pitch. After all, fans make a football club and not the other way around.

Manchester United needs the strain of winning mentality at the helm which the likes of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal have failed to provide, at least in the larger context of what is visible of their attitude. Both these managers have managed to talk about a process, a philosophy and transition for years, with their teams flushing with talent and the scope to purchase more. While David Moyes’ pulling power was hardly the stuff of legends, Louis Van Gaal has had relatively more success in drawing players, albeit not getting the best out of them. Then again, results have not been so forthcoming and we’ve seen a barrage of explanations bordering on excuses coming forth on the matter.

Manchester United is in need of, in more succinct terms, inspiration. Inspiration has been the cornerstone of Manchester United’s achievements over the past few decades and there has been an alarming loss of the same since the departure of the club’s greatest servant in Sir Alex Ferguson. They need someone who can inspire the players at hand, and those looking to join in to play at their very best and deliver performances worthy of the shirt they put on every game.

Then there’s all the drama that goes on off the pitch. Manchester United has had various instances of their top targets in the window slipping out of their fingers. This was a rather publicized failing in the David Moyes era and a less publicized, but inward accepted issue, during Louis Van Gaal’s tenure.

The problem with the transfers is sometimes down to the manager’s inability to attract a player to Manchester United especially in light of their rather disappointing league finishes, and failure to consistently find a spot in the UEFA Champions League. On other occasions it is mostly a matter of failure to act swiftly on Manchester United’s part in terms of negotiations.

Manchester United does not only need a manager who can attract top players, but also one who can sweep past the tentative nature of the planning for matters on the pitch, and give the hierarchy a direction to move towards. Manchester United need a man who can accept the pressure and burden of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy and build a new dynasty, if need be in his own image. Jose Mourinho is that man….or is he?

What Jose Mourinho brings to Manchester United!

To sum it up, he brings Titles! Jose Mourinho is a winner, one of the last few that are in the game. In a season that seems hell bent on procuring all the remaining winners of the game and pitting them against each other in the same league, Jose is the perfect addition.

Jose Mourinho is the name the fans chant in the stands, and there were chants even after Louis Van Gaal lifted the FA Cup a few evenings ago. The fans want him and if he is on board, they would back him to the hilt. His arrival, at least for the immediate time, raises the veil of negativity around Old Trafford and helps take some of the pressure of the club’s staff, who have to live through it in preparation for games. One can never underestimate the value of that chunk of comfort.

Jose Mourinho will attract big names. He stole Fabregas when at Chelsea from under Manchester United’s and David Moyes’ noses. He made a player like Willian land in England in a Tottenham Hotspur jet, but then arrive for a medical in a Chelsea limousine at Chelsea’s training grounds. Jose Mourinho nearly stole Liverpool’s talisman, Steven Gerrard from Liverpool’s very grounds not once but twice. Few players would deny themselves a chance to work with him.

Jose Mourinho inspires his teams like few others can. The players will run through a wall for him if need be. That is the respect he commands. He can get a crowd to rise in frenzy by using the right words at the right time, and he can rile up an opponent and intimidate them like no other.

Most importantly, Mourinho is strong of opinion and quick of decision. He makes his desires known early and shapes his sides with meticulous understanding, perhaps with as much meticulousness as he prepares his teams tactically. Under him, tactically Manchester United will have few parallels and a return to the glory days will be imminent.

The bone of contention is, there’s nothing to say how long Mourinho will be able to keep them there! Under Sir Alex Ferguson, there was a legacy that he built almost from scratch. Jose Mourinho fails to create anything lasting out of what he takes up. In all his years as a top manager, he has not lasted beyond four years anywhere.

He left FC Porto as European Champions to take over the revolution at Chelsea. Four years later, when results went south and the owner got into rows with Mourinho, he said his goodbyes. At Inter he took them to the treble and then decided to move on to Real Madrid. Real Madrid was a little too fickle for the fickle Portugese manager and a homecoming to Chelsea is, as they say, history.

In all this time, Jose won everything there is to win, but should it worry anyone that he failed to stick on anywhere? The scary bit is the trail he left behind. FC Porto is a club that managed to deal with his departure well (albeit after initial months of complete chaos and a new manager sacked before season even began), the rest not quite as much.

Real Madrid continues to suffer domestically after he left. Chelsea, after his first departure has changed managers at will whereas the second coming almost ended in mutiny from players and as for Inter, the less said, the better.

Jose does not believe in a golden future. He thinks about the now and the present and not the after, the later. He couldn’t care less if Manchester United fails to promote academy players if it meant that it would grant them immediate success, he cares little for a lasting legacy as he wishes to create enough of one now that meets his fancy.

Jose’s inability to keep clear of the politics surrounding a board room will also be a problem for Manchester United. He likes to be the most powerful piece on a political chess board as he enjoys leverage which he, to be fair to him, uses for a progress on the field. Whether he can be afforded that position at United, is a debatable matter.

His problems with Chelsea off the pitch are well known. He is infamous for having held Benfica’s newly elected president to ransom and asking for a contract extension, threatening to walk away otherwise. Just for the record, he walked (much to the fury of the fans towards the president). He flirted with the Manchester United job before as well, while at Inter he made it known he would “consider it if he were considered”. At Madrid, every day was like a battle for him.

To Sum it Up

Jose Mourinho is one of the best coaches in the world. He is a fitting response for any club faced with the prospect of facing their bitterest rivals boast the acumen of Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte. He offers much of what Manchester United need, but what he does not offer is the willingness to grow with Manchester United. Both Jose and Manchester United are big entities in their own right, and Jose is not essentially a “the club is bigger than the man who serves it” sort of character.

He will enjoy being a driving force behind a club, but he will not compromise his ego, and will certainly not play second fiddle to anyone. So long as those two matters do not come up, parked bus or not, Manchester United fans are in for a treat. But when they do, it is his way or the highway. The thing with younger coaches is that they grow into that sort of power on the basis of results over years (exactly how Sir Alex Ferguson did it).

Jose Mourinho will demand such treatment and power from the word go. And there will be dark days ahead if he isn’t afforded the same. Should Jose’s dark side grow into the picture, there will be decisions that will need to be made as to his future. Until then, this is the perfect match and Manchester United will reap the benefits without a doubt.  

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