WHEN Jose Mourinho marches down the touchline tomorrow night Old Trafford might well wonder why on earth they let this man go.
There were no tears spilt when 11 months ago he was shown the door at this great club.
Jose Mourinho won the Europa League with Man Utd and club has gone into decline sinceCredit: Getty - Contributor
Jose Mourinho has won three out of three since taking over at Tottenham last monthApparently he had sucked the life out of the place, failed to tap into it’s DNA, played boring football, some even said he was man past his time, a footballing dinosaur.
A quick look at what he achieved and where they are now might cause a rethink.
A former national team boss in the Old Trafford press room on Sunday summed it up about the current state at Manchester United.
He had just completed his media duties for the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa having also been at Bramall Lane for the 3-3 the Sunday before.
“I tell you what,” he said “The games are certainly exciting. As long as you are not bothered about the results.”
And that’s the problem at United, having to please two camps. Those who want free flowing football and the need to get results.
Because you can’t always do both.
To listen to some Manchester United fans you would think every game was won 4-3 under Sir Alex Ferguson with two goals in injury time from a team filled with Academy graduates.
Nobody remembers the dull games. Nobody remembers that the 1999 Champions League Final was the worst on record until injury time.
How two years after that triumph Sir Alex himself admitted this trophy could not be won with cavalier football anymore.
Even he became pragmatic in the pursuit of another triumph in club football’s greatest competition.
The treble team was the perfect storm, but not always the norm.
Ole Solskjaer is trying to recreate something that was done with players like Ryan Giggs, David Becham, Roy Keane, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
With defenders like Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and the other great players Sir Alex bought or nurtured.
It can’t be done with this current group no matter how he gets them to play.
Still Mourinho achieved great things with the players at his disposal.
In two seasons at the helm of United he won the League Cup, Europa League, came second in the Premier League and reached an FA Cup Final.
There is no asterix against those achievements saying: ‘Ah yes but he didn’t play football the right way.’
What is the right way?
In the Europa League Final in Stockholm against Ajax he did it the right way.
That night he faced a young, vibrant, short passing, high pressing, Dutch side who would hound you in your own half.
So what did Mourinho do. He told his players to launch the ball into the opposition’s half as soon as they got it.
High and long , to utilise the height and ability to hold the ball up that Marouane Fellaini could possess and the speed of Marcus Rashford.
It worked a treat. The Ajax coach spoke afterwards as if Mourinho had cheated, but there was only one coach holding the trophy and taking the acclaim of his fans.
Just as he did after the most exciting final at the new Wembley when they beat Southampton 3-2 to win the League Cup.
He told everyone that coming second in the league the following season was one of his greatest achievements, and people scoffed. They now know what he means.
Think about it. This time 18 months ago,United were better than Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs.
There is no doubt The Special One could be the awkward one too, but still the club allowed a situation to develop where five months after finishing second he was sacked.
They knew better when he wanted to sell the over hyped Anthony Martial, better when he said they had to push the boat out to get Harry Maguire.
Better when they failed to fully back him in his problems with expensive flop Paul Pogba.
When he said in LA two summers ago that Pogba needed to start playing for United as he did for France in winning the World Cup he was deemed spiteful.
He wasn’t, he was spot on.
Mourinho refused to indulge Pogba. Now he is allowed to do what he wants including picking and choosing which holiday destinations to go to while he recovers from an ankle injury.
Another criticism laid at Mourinho’s door was that he put the brakes on this fabled Academy production line of players.
Yet it was he who took the kids on the pre-season tour of the States 18 months ago.
He who promoted Scott McTominay into the first team.
Mourinho had his faults but he did a great job for Manchester United.
One early signs are telling us he is now doing for Spurs.
The ‘dinosaur’ is roaring again and his next victim could well come tomorrow night.