By Adam Joseph
It’s official. After months of speculation, José Mourinho has gotten the job he always wanted. Mourinho was appointed manager of Manchester United for at least the next three seasons in a club announcement Friday the 27th of May, 2016.
It dawns a new era for a club hopefully coming out of three years of severe and turbulent turmoil under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. Those names now though are a thing of the past, names to be left behind. Lessons learned rather than just mistakes made.
Ed Woodward used his strong relationship with super agent Jorge Mendes to secure a deal for one of the world’s biggest and most successful managers still working in football day, and Woodward described it as just that in the official statement on their website.
“José is quite simply the best manager in the game today. He has won trophies and inspired players in countries across Europe and, of course, he knows the Premier League very well, having won three titles here. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome him to Manchester United. His track record of success is ideal to take the club forward.”
That is what the club hopes will be the case. Rumours are abound with which Mourinho we will get. Will he adapt to the needs with the club? Will the controversy that surrounded him particularly in his spells at Real Madrid and Chelsea follow him to Old Trafford? What about the preference for youth, will he want that?
Realistically, it’s a complete unknown. Mourinho seemed to mellow when he rejoined Chelsea for his second spell at the club in 2013, however over time he returned to old ways and eventually it was what defined his turbulent second term at Stamford Bridge.
In terms of adapting to the club, it’s more than likely that both parties meet each other halfway. Mourinho has no reason not to play youth at the club. With an exciting young core in place it’s very unlikely all players will be cast aside.
The Portuguese has had around six months since his sacking to sit and watch, and it’s likely he has done so extensively. He won’t be walking in the door blind, and is aware players like Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and others are part of a thrilling new era at the club.
There is also the argument that the youth narrative is overplayed. Chelsea (despite their success at younger levels) and Real Madrid have next to youth culture in their first teams, where it is a built in expectation at Manchester United. People can predict what they like about what they think Mourinho will do; reality is they have no idea.
The theory that the football will be boring is also hollow. Whilst in his last campaign with Chelsea he was known to “park the bus” which is undeniable. It was the best way for them to win with the personnel they had. John Terry and Gary Cahill cannot play a high line, Mourinho adjusted and it won them the title.
They set up to suit the personnel they had, they relied on their creative players to do the rest with their backs to the wall and it worked. Who didn’t do that this season and last? Louis Van Gaal. He tried to make his personnel adapt to his beliefs and it didn’t work. It was clear for a long time it needed to be the other way around.
Now Mourinho finds himself in his biggest challenge since his spell at Porto. United are currently a fading force, a deeply flawed squad that needs a lot of work. He will get more from it than Van Gaal ever could, but new arrivals will be required to strengthen an undermanned attack, shaky defence and misfit midfield.
There will be too many rumoured targets to name, with needs at centre back, central midfield and attack all almost certain to be addressed.
However the big name and fame Mourinho brings will attract star studded new talent. Zlatan Ibrahimović does not seem to be far away, and shapes up as potentially the first new signing under the Portuguese tactician. Fans are drooling at the prospect of adding some star power, leadership and grit to a squad that badly needs it.
There will be those who say it is three years late, but what’s done is done. The club weren’t willing at the time, despite it being Mourinho’s first preference over the job he took at Chelsea. Now is the time.
United have been struggling so badly that they’ve had to reconsider their view on the issue, and the internal battle within the club about who should be the manager has been put aside it seems or at least won by those who wanted Mourinho installed as the next big boss.
Club and manager were brought together by a desperation to prove themselves and just maybe, that’s what both manager and club need. It could be a mixture for a brilliant new era in Manchester.
Adam Joseph is a freelance writer from Australia. Manchester United fan from back when they were the only team on Australian TV and it was love at first sight. Manchester United, Oklahoma City Thunder, New England Patriots and Carlton Blues fanatic. If it’s sport related, I’ll talk about it.