Friday 11 May 2018

Why Jose Mourinho remains the right man for Manchester United

Football is a game of opinions and you won't ever hear me criticising anyone for expressing theirs but, for those who want Jose Mourinho sacked, please have a word with yourself and think about what you want. Yes it's true we might not be the most colourful side to watch but is that the be all and end all - when a pragmatic and business-like German side won the World Cup in 2014, were their fans complaining? I don't think so. Do you think anyone was bothered when those two last minute goals nestled into the back of the Bayern Munich net in a Champions League final in which we had been substandard at best? Diego Simeone - arguably the greatest manager in Atletico Madrid history - broke the Barca/Real La Liga duopoly in 2014, came within a penalty kick of winning the Champions League and will lead his side out for a second Europa League final in a few weeks time. Regarded as an arch pragmatist with an emphasis on a tightly organised and well drilled defensive shape, you don't hear any of their fans baying for his blood. Quite the opposite - Simeone has become a legend and one of the most sought-after bosses of his generation.

We've been utterly spoilt throughout years of unprecedented success and I wouldn't trade those times for anything, but in many ways those halycon days of yesteryear created an unreasonable level of expectation and self-entitlement that leaves some legion of fans acting like spoilt children who want everything yesterday - a legion of so called fans for whom there will never be any pleasing. If you want amazing, exciting football then go and watch Tottenham, just don't expect any silverware any time soon. If Spurs are as brilliant as they are made out to be, then ask yourself this: how come we've scored near enough the same number of goals as them, beaten them twice and are certain to finish higher this year. Same can be said for Jurgen Klopp's "heavy metal" Liverpool - who are yet to have beaten us since Jose's appointment almost two years ago.

We knew what we were getting with Jose - he's the closest guaruantee of success as its possible to have - so why is there so much contempt? This is a man who has prioritised substance over style throughout his illustrious career - his Internazionale side that won the Champions League in 2010 was an ageing, far from vintage team that won the semi final against Barcelona with 28% of the ball in the second leg in the Nou Camp. In the final vs Louis van Gaal's Bayern, they had 32% possession and won 2-0. Mourinho's managerial career in microcosm. Winning is the name of the game - how you do so is merely a footnote that no one ever remembers. First and foremost, winning silverware should be the only thing that matters to a club and a manager. As a fan, I want to see the team I love, win trophies and be successful. In a perfect world in the obsessive search for the perfect football ideology,  there seems to be an indulgance that you should so in an 'attractive' manner, but we don't live in such perfect times. Pep Guardiola is a rare exception to the rule (and look at what he's got at his disposal). I'd much rather 'win ugly' every week if it means a trophy or two at the end of a long season than support a club that win nothing but plaudits for their style.

 In the two seasons since he arrived at Old Trafford, Jose has picked up the shattered remnants of two catastrophic managerial regimes and turned United into a competitive - if not quite yet all-conquering - beast once more. The two trophies last season, in the form of a first ever Europa League victory coupled with the EFL Cup, may have been offset by a lacklustre sixth-placed Premier League finish, but proved a sign of things to come. At this moment in time, who else could do any better and oversee such a monumental task of repairing the shoddy building project of three previous managers?..A change would take us back to square one and wouldn't make any difference. 
 Even during a transitional settling in season, he managed to bring in two trophies and has continued that with signs of tangible progression this time as we've secured a second placed finish. We've had our best finish since SAF, accrued more points, scored more goals in a single season since 2013, with had some high-octane results to savour, beating all of the top six - often in a thrilling and gloriously unexpected manner along the way. Yes, we've been inconsistent and yes there's been some dissapointments, there's no getting away from that, but looking at the season as a whole and the improvement is there for everyone to see. If not for the swashbuckling and consisteny brilliance of City - the most dominant champions the land has ever seen - we'd be right in contention for the title. We have of course got one more big job left - the fillip of a 20th FA Cup final and the chance for a record-equalling 13th victory in English football's oldest and most prestigious knockout tournament. A chance for our fourth trophy in three seasons. For many, that still won't be good enough, but then nothing ever will be.

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