Jose Mourinho’s time at Manchester United would not turn out as his reputation suggests, he would blood the youngsters—both academy graduates and signings—he wouldn’t go about trying to gouge out the eyes of opposition mangers and finally, he would decommission that famous blame generator of his that blames everything but himself—from the ball boy to the corner flag.
And just as we expect those, we could do well to include the sun turning into a ball of ice, Game of Thrones losing its appeal, snowfall in Nigeria as well as the realisation of the proverbial world peace.
The common ground upon which all these expectations stand is simple: DELUSION.
The fact is that the only thing Mourinho has in common with Manchester United is winning. Like him or hate him, he is a winner and Manchester United is a club very used to winning—until 2013 at least.
But every other attempt to justify his impending appointment ends upin futility: Mourinho in general seems to be the antithesis of everything upon which the current global brand that is Manchester United Plc was built in the late 20thcentury.
Youth development was a key part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s process in turning a mediocre United into the giants of English football. The famous Class of ’94 were prime examples of this and up until his last game in charge—the 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion —the legendary manager stuck to his philosophy in the form of 18 year old unused substitute, Adnan Januzaj.
Mourinho’s entire managerial career betrays this philosophy and as much as his new-found disciples in red try to brush this off by calling out the names of a couple of young players given a couple of minutes or played in dead-rubber games, the fact is only Petr Čech has gone on to become anything of real relevance under his tutelage.
Then comes his often unnecessary mind games, his on pitch antics—the infamous eye-poke says it all—and his general PR nightmare; activities that every football club that considers itself classy looks to avoid at all cost—the exact reason Barcelona chose a rookie over him.
Sure, Sir Alex had his controversial and somewhat excessively arrogant moments but the reason he always retained the support and confidence of his players, the fans and the board was because he ALWAYS respected the club’s interest, never feeling bigger. These are things Mourinho can never live up to.
As disconcerting and off-putting as these may behowever, the Portuguese remains the best candidate for the job.
After those dark days of Real Madrid that culminated with the 4-0 UEFA Champions’ League round-of-16 disgrace to Liverpool in 2009, Florentino Peréz knew how valuable Mourinho’s pragmatism and contagious winning mentality would be in getting the club back to European dominance and the foundations the Portuguese left Real with are still being enjoyed till date.
United are in a similar situation—a wayward spiral where ambition and investment cannot seem to be replicated on the football pitch—and so Ed Woodward is looking to a path similar to Peréz’s.
The winning mentality and tradition that Sir Alex took decades to install and maintain have clearly disappeared and a coach who could recreate it in a few preseason months was absolutely needed and Mourinho is the only available coach who specialises in that department.
That lies more or less the only positive to take from his appointment. He would drag the name of the club to the ground, he would blame things more ridiculous than the Law of Murphy and United fans might as well snap out of the beautiful scenes of watching the kids down a “title challenger”.
Even the reported “behaviour clause” inserted into the proposed contract would not be enough, not with someone as volatile as Mourinho.
He remains a definite upgrade to Louis van Gaal for sure and will get United fighting for the big trophies again in an impressive short while, getting the team to play beautiful football if forced to as he’s often done but the days of classy Man United would have to be suspended for now.