Jose Mourinho has been the manager of Manchester United for 18 months now and if you were to give him an end-of-term grade for that period, a ‘B’ would probably be about fair.
His first season in charge of the Red Devils was a mixed bag.
Despite making four excellent summer signings - in the form of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly - United only managed to finish sixth in the Premier League table. A big disappointment.
However, Mourinho redeemed himself by winning both the League Cup and, more importantly, the Europa League.
A 2-0 victory over Ajax in Sweden back in May ensured that United would be competing in the Champions League this season, despite the fact they failed to secure a top-four finish in the league.
United are performing better in the Premier League so far this season, although they already find themselves eight points behind league-leaders Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side are the overwhelming favourites to lift the Premier League trophy in May; however, that could all change depending on what happens over the next couple of weeks.
United face Watford away this evening before taking on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Seven days later they host City in a match that will have a huge bearing on the title race.
Fans will expect United to go toe-to-toe with City
United fans, however, will be praying that Mourinho allows his players to go for it. In too many big matches since he replaced Louis van Gaal last summer, United have been defensive and dull.
In order to stand any chance of ending the season as champions, you suspect United will need to take all three points against City - and that could entail approaching the game with an attacking mindset.
Sitting back and allowing City to dominate in their half of the pitch, relying on moments from counter-attacks, certainly won’t be appreciated by United supporters if it’s unsuccessful.
Owen makes a good point about Mourinho and the fans
Former United striker Michael Owen believes that unless Mourinho changes his tactics in the big matches, the club’s supporters will eventually lose patience with the Portuguese coach.
“Manchester United are synonymous with the attacking football Sir Alex Ferguson demanded during his 20 years winning trophy after trophy at the club and to ask fans that are used to that and have been brought up on that to accept something different now is difficult,” Owen is quoted as saying by Yahoo.
“Mourinho has a style that may not be to everyone’s liking and I understand why United fans have expressed concerns about Mourinho’s tactics and that problem will continue as he is not going to change for anyone.
“Winning has always been more important to Mourinho that how he gets to that destination and United knew that when they hired him, so they are in no position to complain now. Mourinho has a proven method of success and he confirmed that again last season by winning two major trophies.
“What I question is whether the United supporters will put up with this style of football against the top teams long-term because what is hailed by some as a Mourinho tactical masterclass after a 0-0 draw at Liverpool, the fans of the club he is working for now may not see it that way.
“They want to see their side on the front foot, but winning trophies is a very good way of keeping people happy and there are few managers better than Mourinho at doing that.”
Why Owen might be spot on
It’s a perfectly valid point.
United fans are used to seeing their teams win silverware while playing attractive football.
Mourinho is famed for winning at all costs, even if it means killing matches.
But if those tactics begin to fail, then it’ll be very interesting to see how the United faithful start to react.
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