Monday 25 September 2017

Jose's United identikit gunning for glory in the boss's second season

Jose Mourinho always wins the league title in his second season at a club.

He has done it at Porto, both of his spells at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid and, during his time in Portugal and Italy, he added a Champions League trophy for good measure.

Now the question that we're all asking is: can he repeat the feat again and bring a first Premier League title in five years back to Old Trafford?

Never before has he had to take a team from sixth place to the summit in a single campaign, which is the challenge that he's facing this season. 

His opening term saw United end up 24 points behind Chelsea but, even during his settling-in season, the League Cup and - crucially - the Europa League were both won.

Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs all finished higher but won nothing while Mourinho again proved that he is a serial winner whose only currency is silverware.

The 2006 League Cup win led to a period of almost unprecedented dominance for Sir Alex's young United side, spearheaded by the blistering young duo of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It's hard to say at the moment whether the successes of last season will have a similar springboard effect for this team, but the early signs so far are very promising indeed.

In order to fashion a side capable of challenging  for - if not winning - the Premier League title, Jose has built one in his own identikit.

Big, quick, powerful and hard to beat, this United team bears all the hallmarks of a classic Mourinho unit, a blueprint that we've seen so many times before from the Portuguese. 

Jose has had more of an imprint on the squad in a year that David Moyes and Louis van Gaal managed between them in nearly four.

Nemanja Matic was a crucial cog in Mourinho's last title-winning team at Chelsea, and the classy Serbian has looked a £40m bargain so far for United.

Signed to bring extra defensive solidity and steel, Matic has become one of United's most important players already and has given more freedom to Paul Pogba. 

Romelu Lukaku is another example of a textbook Mourinho player: a physical menace who possesses frightening pace, devastating power and is lethal in front of goal.

In many ways, Mourinho may think that he has the nearest player it's possible to have to Didier Drogba. 

Across town, the spectre of his old adversary Pep Guardiola looms large for Jose, but he got past him in his second year at Madrid, and would love nothing more than to do so once again.

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