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As we head into May we are still not much the wiser as to exactly who will be in charge of Manchester United next season. The stability and success of the Alex Ferguson is becoming an increasingly distant memory at Old Trafford and it is clear that the next managerial appointment simply has to be the right one if United are not to fall further behind their rivals in English and European football’s pecking order.
The one man being widely touted as the likely successor should Louis Van Gaal lose his job this summer is Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss is not the perfect fit for Manchester United for several reasons. For starters the main gripe with Van Gaal is the uninspiring style of play with which he has been employing.
Mourinho is also an advocate of a more disciplined approach and isn’t likely to be the man to instantly bring back the free-flowing football of the great United sides of yesteryear.
His reputation as something of a loose cannon may also put the powers that be at Old Trafford off. During his latter days at Chelsea he appeared to be attempting to communicate with the board through the media in a series of bizarre interviews where he stated what the club would be losing if they decided to sack him.
Unquestionably those sort of antics would not go down well at Old Trafford and the risk that he might try and turn Manchester United into the Jose Mourinho show was most likely one of the reasons they opted for the more understated David Moyes three summers ago when the Ferguson era came to an end.
The perfect fit, Mourinho clearly was not judged to be then and he may not be now, however in the circumstances he may very well simply be the best fit and that is the likely conclusion the United board will reach should Van Gaal leave the club at the end of the campaign.
The lack of viable alternatives is one reason for that. In the past 6 months alone United have watched on as their two main rivals, Liverpool and Man City have swooped for Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. Both are big names with bold attacking philosophies that would surely have suited the so-called ‘United way’.
Guardiola rocking up across town this summer will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow for United and their fans and the club really needs to respond with a big statement of their own.
The only way to go
Of the managers potentially available, appointing Mourinho would surely be the only way to go. Mauricio Pochettino was also mooted but has now signed a new long-term deal at White Hart Lane, Carlo Ancelotti is heading to Munich and the majority of Europe’s most coveted managers are already or soon to be at other Premier League clubs.
The alternative would be to plump for a Ryan Giggs or Gary Neville but entrusting one of the ‘class of 92’ with the Old Trafford hotseat at such a critical time may be a risk that the club is unwilling to take at this precise moment.
However to say that Mourinho is merely the best of a bad lot would be more than a little disrespectful to the Portuguese boss, who has enjoyed considerable success and won trophies for every club he has managed since unexpectedly winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004. He is a winner and he is unquestionably capable of getting Manchester United competing at the very top of the Premier League again.
No opposing manager in the Premier League era has been a greater thorn in United’s side than Mourinho. His Chelsea team in the mid-2000s remain the only side other than Manchester United to have successfully defended the Premier League.
Only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more Premier League titles than him and the fact that he has also achieved Champions League wins with Porto and Inter Milan, two teams who toppled stronger sides to lift the crown suggests he doesn’t necessarily need the best players to bring in the biggest prizes.
With Guardiola at City, he most likely will again be in the position of having an inferior playing personnel than his nemesis, who he previously locked horns with in Spain. The United board will no doubt have noted that Mourinho’s Real Madrid did manage to wrestle one league title away from Pep’s all-conquering Barca side during his time in the Spanish capital, where he also ended Real’s 3 year trophy drought and got them seriously competing in Europe again.
Excellent track record
In short his track record for success, stacks up against anyone and despite his unravelling at Chelsea this season, we shouldn’t forget that only 12 months ago he was leading a side to the Premier League title.
If he can deliver the first league title of the post-Ferguson era at Old Trafford, United fans and everyone connected with the club would surely be willing to put up with the perceived negatives that might go with a Mourinho regime.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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