Thursday, 25 January 2018

Jose hits 100 not out on 55th birthday

Jose Mourinho takes United to the humble and inauspicious surroundings of League Two Yeovil in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday as he hits a personal milestone. Having signed a new contract to extend his stay at the club for another three years, the boss celebrates his 55th birthday and marks the occasion as he takes charge of the Reds for the 100th time at Huish Park. Having taken over from Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2016, Jose will become our first manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired to oversee a third season at the helm, and will also surpass Van Gaal as our longest serving boss since Fergie stepped down.

Jose's record in his previous 99 games at Old Trafford reads: W61 D23 L15 - a win percentage of 61.6. Compare that to Van Gaal's win rate of 52.3 from his 103 matches and the improvement is there for all to see. Progress has very much been the buzzword of Jose's tenure up to this point, with last season's dissapointing sixth placed finish offset by the euphoria of two major trophies in the form of the EFL Cup and a first ever Europa League, a win that brought a much sought-after return to the Champions League. Although a first Premier League title for five seasons looks a big ask, we still look set for our best post-Fergie campaign in what's been a much improved season in which the Reds have hit an upward trajectory.
I've always said that Jose should have been the man we turned to to replace Sir Alex in the first place  - he was probably the only manager with an ego and a CV that were big enough to come in and pick up where the Scot left off for a relatively smooth transition. The reasons for picking David Moyes are well known, but only after two managerial failures and three soporific seasons did we turn to the proven winner with the only ideology that matters - winning trophies.

The Europa League victory was sealed the hard way, as Jose gambled with our domestic fortunes in a risk that eventually proved vindicated with that poignant triumph on an emotional night in Stockholm. But the harrowing 4-0 reverse on his first return to Stamford Bridge was an undoubted low point of his tenure so far, as were the 15 home draws last season and the paltry total of eight home wins.  This season's Carabao Cup KO to Bristol City cannot be ignored and neither can the pair of 2-1 home derby defeats that hit us hard. The good has outweighed the bad, however, and it's indisputable truth that United are going in the right direction under Mourinho. His signings have been shrewdly successful and he's built a United side in his own identikit: strong, powerful, well-organised and resilient, added to with a sprinkling of stardust. Right now, apart from the obvious choice of the Catalan guy across town, there's no manager I'd rather have in the hotseat of the club I love. He and United are a match made in heaven. Of course there have been tantrums, outbursts, meltdowns and rants aplenty, but I actually don't mind that - it shows he cares and it proves how passionate he is. This behaviour is nothing worse than we see from the likes of Messrs Conte and Klopp. Jose comes with excess baggage, but it's something you just have to accept when he's your manager.

If he wants to, I don't see any reason why Jose won't stay at United for the rest of his career. Longevity is not something he's associated with, and it remains to be seen how far into the future he will carry us but he's often spoken of wanting to settle down and build a legacy somewhere. But one thing's for sure, Jose's 100 has been far more memorable than LVG's ever was and long may it continue. Congrats boss, and here's to the next 100.

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