Being able to influence pre-season and transfers means managers have greater success in their second seasons at clubs, admitted Manchester United boss José Mourinho.
The Portuguese, though, did play down his record in his second seasons at clubs.
However, it’s quite clear that, in the league at least, Mourinho peaks in his second season. Man United fans have reason to be excited, given the 54-year-old has lifted the league title in his second season at FC Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
United are one of the favourites to be Premier League champions come May, but Mourinho has consistently refuted that the Reds are the favourites.
“I don’t know why people speak of the second season because I won in the first season and I won in the third season,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t really understand it.”
He explained, though, why being able to plan pre-season to his specifications helps.
“I just think that the second season is a good season for evolution in relation to the first season because in the first season you arrive and sometimes, like in my case, I was not even able to organise a pre-season because it had already been organised. I couldn’t have one single finger of influence on it.
“When I arrived in the first season there was already investments made in buying players, changing the squad, selling players, that you probably would have done in a different way. For sure I would have kept some of the players that were sold, for sure I would not buy some of the players that were bought.”
Mourinho may be talking about players like Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, who he claimed he wouldn’t have sold had he been in Louis van Gaal‘s position.
“In the second season, you have your influence at that level. You have better conditions to work and get those results,” Mourinho continued.
“But you are playing against other teams whose managers are in the third or second or fourth or fifth seasons. So second may not be a big advantage.”
United have started in fantastic form in Mourinho’s second season, currently topping both the Premier League and UEFA Champions League Group A. The Reds have scored at least two goals in every game since the start of the league campaign.
That can be seen to be partly due to an excellent pre-season and transfer window. Signings Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelöf were early deals, allowing the pair a full pre-season. Nemanja Matić didn’t have the same luxury, but was still signed before the league kicked off.
Meanwhile, the pre-season itself was smooth and well-organised, unlike 2016’s farce where United traveled to China to play one game after a fixture against Manchester City was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch.