Last Saturday, Jose Mourinho got a massive result.
No, he wasn’t in the Chelsea dugout celebrating their definitive 3-1 victory vs Sunderland – he had been sacked as the club’s manager two days before.
Rather, he was likely revelling in something he had absolutely no control or influence over: Manchester United’s 2-1 loss to Norwich City at Old Trafford.
The defeat was United’s second in a row against a newly promoted team (they lost to Bournemouth by the same scoreline the week before), which capped off a brutal stretch of results where they were also eliminated from the Champions League by Wolfsburg.
More importantly, it was another reminder that Louis van Gaal‘s ‘philosophy’ is simply not working anymore. Patience with the Dutchman looks to be wearing thin, and if he is fired, many believe it will be Mourinho that succeeds him.
According to ESPN, Louis van Gaal must win two of United’s next three fixtures or his time at Old Trafford will be cut short, while the Guardian claimed that United have been weighing up a move for the ex-Chelsea man Mourinho.
With United’s dire state at the moment, a move for Mourinho in the near future no longer seems unlikely. But that doesn’t mean it’s really deserved, either.
It seems most fans would generally prefer Mourinho over van Gaal at the moment, and the former could certainly achieve results at United. However, the recent struggles of United and van Gaal have largely glossed over and allowed us to forget about many of Mourinho’s shortcomings.
It is truly a testament to United’s current state that the club’s fans and board would be willing to accept such a volatile figure with open arms. While a look at Mourinho’s CV shows an astounding amount of success as a manager, it also shows the fact that the Portuguese has never been at one club for more than three years, as he constantly burns bridges with staff and his players.
At Real Madrid it was his ridiculous alienation and condemnation of Iker Casillas, leading to the benching of the goalkeeper, while he more recently demoted Chelsea team physio Eva Carneiro in shocking fashion.
What will it be at United, then?
It is also extremely convenient for them to forget his incessant wining about refereeing calls in post-match interviews, his constant deflection of blame off of himself (and sometimes onto his team), and his unending excuses. The man that United fans have so frequently cringed and laughed at could possibly be representing their club very soon, in the same manner.
After Chelsea’s loss against Leicester at the King Power stadium earlier this term (his final match), he criticised the home side’s ballboys and claimed that his players had “betrayed” him.
Mourinho’s confidence and assuredness as a manager is a positive, but United need a manager who is humble enough to accept his own faults, and to tinker with tactics when necessary, rather than blaming the referees or ballboys.
It should also be noted that Mourinho is known for his defensive style of play, and he is also notorious for not giving chances to youth players, as he has only handed five starts to academy graduates. These are things that go explicitly against United’s ethos of expansive attacking play and bringing youth players through the ranks. Once again, however, United aren’t exactly in a prime negotiating position, and accepting these qualities that Mourinho has is part of the compromise they may have to make to get themselves out of the current rut they’re in.
Ultimately, Mourinho would not be a bad hire for United, and he could undoubtedly help improve the team. However, a question regarding Mourinho’s potential hiring must be raised: Are United bringing him in because he’s truly one of the best managers in the world, or because he’s merely the best available?
Before United’s recent meltdown, the club had Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola in their sights. Now the former is confirmed to be joining Bayern Munich next season, while the latter has been heavily linked with Manchester City.
It is worth thinking about where Mourinho would be looking to go if United weren’t possibly searching for a new manager. With his unstable nature, constant antics, and recent demise at Chelsea, it’s hard to imagine a club similar in stature to United offering him a job.
Mourinho hasn’t been good as of late, but now, he might get lucky.