Gary Neville has noted that Jose Mourinho’s new contract at Manchester United will give him the chance to build a side in his image.
The 54-year-old is half-way through his three-year contract at the club and has claimed two trophies alongside guiding Man United to second spot in the Premier League table this season..
And reports emerged earlier this week suggesting that a breakthrough in negotiations with Mourinho over a new contract has been made, extending his stay at Old Trafford beyond 2019.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville has supported the club’s decision to pledge their faith in the Portuguese.
“I think it is great to see the club and Jose Mourinho committing to continuing down this path,” he said. “One thing for certain is Mourinho has to leave the club as a success.”
“I think it is too early to say whether he is going to stay six or seven years, but the job to do is to win the Premier League and it has to be done as soon as possible, so I’m glad that – unlike with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal – both parties are staying on the same path to get there.
“Yes, it is taking longer than the club and he will have wanted, but he’s a manager who has always won and he’s got to adapt the squad more, potentially with Alexis Sanchez in this window, then three or four more deals in the summer.
“I’ve always thought it takes about two-and-a-half seasons to really build a squad in the manager’s image and I think this time next season he will be at that point where it really feels like his team.”
We ought to remember that Mourinho signed new deals with Real Madrid and Chelsea in the past, only to then leave both clubs within a year. He is not what you would label as a long-term investment.
But Man United are justified in committing themselves to him nonetheless. For the first time since the Sir Alex Ferguson era, the board is buying into their manager’s vision, giving him the chance to truly make this his team over the next couple of years.
This never transpired under David Moyes, who basically just clung on for dear life over a nine month period, or indeed under Louis van Gaal – a man who never seemed interested in staying longer than three years and thus never really felt entrenched in the club.
Perhaps this commitment will backfire; but for United, after a prolonged identity crisis, commitment is the most important thing at the moment.