Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has given his thoughts on Jose Mourinho’s predicament at Old Trafford, insisting the 53-year-old needs more time to implement his vision.
Mourinho’s men have struggled so far in the Premier League, managing just two wins since August – a record that leaves them nine points off top spot.
Man United’s European exploits, on the other hand, have been far more fruitful: a 2-0 win against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday night, hallmarked by goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, guaranteed their place in the next round of the Europa League.
Ferdinand, speaking after the game, claimed that Mourinho would need more time to fully implement his style at Old Trafford.
“He had a massive transfer window in terms of bringing in [Paul] Pogba, [Eric] Bailly, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] but those guys have got to integrate within this team,” he said. “This isn’t a Fergie era. This is a building process.
“He’s got to build. He’s almost had to take the building down and start again a little bit, in terms of the mentality of the players and actually identifying the right players to come in.
“You could all see beforehand, from David Moyes to Louis van Gaal, that the team weren’t playing or getting the results that Manchester United are accustomed to. So Jose Mourinho has been brought in to try to stabilise and then grow from there.
“I don’t think you can ask any manager — whether it be David Moyes or Louis van Gaal — to come in and just have one year and be judged upon one year. It’s difficult. David Moyes had a very tough time in that respect.
“Jose Mourinho — with the experience he has got at big clubs, winning big trophies, a huge personality — the minimum he deserves is at least one or two more transfer windows to really say ‘this is my team now.’ I don’t think Jose Mourinho can sit there and say: ‘this is my team.’ I don’t think he is there yet.
“Once he is there then there’s no excuses. Until that point, you can still give them a getting-to-know-each-other period and integration.”
It is often ignored that Mourinho did not just inherit a group of players used to Louis van Gaal‘s sapping methods; he inherited a group of players bereft of confidence, plagued by the anti-football mindset implemented by the Dutchman. This was not a team packed with winners; this was a team still reeling from gruelling video analysis sessions, being told to not shoot from outside the box at any time.
The Portuguese, therefore, has to oversee not just an overhaul in personnel, but also a complete psychological overhaul as well.