Storyline: Manchester United fans need to be patient with Jose Mourinho. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
During the final season of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign as Manchester United manager, I had a strong feeling that if the club did not bring in an experienced manager with a strong personality, then the club would slip down the pecking order as one of the best football clubs in the world.
It turned out to be the case. The last three years under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal brought sorrows and disappointments among United fans all over the world.
Jose Mourinho was hired by United to return the club to where it belongs. The big question is: Has the club got it right with Mourinho at the helm of the affairs?
I would say yes. Being a United Manager is one of the biggest jobs in world football and Mourinho knows the responsibility that lies on his shoulders and understands how difficult the job is.
Having managed the likes of Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid, I have no doubt in my mind that United has made the right choice. Mourinho inherited a team that was seriously lacking in confidence. Players that were not supposed to be bought were bought and players that were still vital to the team were shown the exit door.
In one of his press conferences, Mourinho expressed how bad he feels. He blamed Louis Van Gaal for letting a player like Chicharito leave the club and he also claimed that the boy would have scored 20 goals a season if he were still a United Player.
But let us stop the blame game: Has Mourinho moved the club in the right direction since he took over the mantle of leadership? I would say he has ticked many boxes for me.
Mourinho brought in four big name players to improve the team. I believe the likes of Zlatan, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, and Baily have done tremendously well in adding value to the team. He has instilled a strong, never-say-die mentality among players and challenged them to always give more than 100% for the team.
The progress made so far under Mourinho has been very positive. The attacking fluidity and mental toughness demanded by Mourinho from his players are gradually taking shape.
Some fans may argue whether the team has really made progress, considering the lack of goals from attacking players that has resulted in many draws at home. But I believe Mourinho has introduced more entertaining and attacking football than what United had under Van Gaal.
I’m not making excuses. The team is not there yet; it is still work in progress.
Mourinho has publicly criticised the likes of Martial, Rashford, Lingard and Mkhitaryan for their lack of killer instinct in front of goal. He wants to ease the goal burden on Zlatan. These players need to move their game to the next level if the club is to challenge for titles.
In addition to the squad Mourinho has at his disposal, it is imperative to improve the squad with at least four new signings in the next transfer window:
a striker with an eye for goal
an attacking midfielder with great vision and creativity
a central defender with strong aerial ability, and
a holding midfielder with strong physical presence to give Pogba the licence to realise his full potential.
Mourinho also needs to realise Rooney’s dip in form. It calls for concern. Mourinho’s recent comments on Rooney being injured and not fully fit to start games are clear indications that his United career is drawing closer. Mourinho made it clear, right from his first press conference, what he expected from Rooney. But it is obvious the skipper can no longer give what the manager is asking for.
Another area that calls for concern is goalkeeping. I do not think de Gae has exceeded expectation since arriving from Athletico Madrid. His lack of aerial presence to deal with crosses and dead ball situations is food for thought. I think Sergio Romero is more assertive in the post–if given more matches under his belt in order to improve his match fitness.
The Club owners — the Glazers –and Vice Chief Executive, Ed Woodward, should be happy with the work Mourinho has done so far. And based on recent comments made by Woodward about bringing in a chunk of players during the next transfer window, it is an indication that the Club is ready to splash money to improve the squad.
United fans just need to be patient with the Manager. There is light at the end of the tunnel.