Craig Bellamy believes Manchester United only hired Jose Mourinho in 2016 out of sheer desperation.
The 55-year-old arrived at the club in June 2016 and inherited a squad that he described as “sad” following a tumultuous campaign under Louis van Gaal.
And while his style has been met with criticism, the Portuguese has delivered in terms of results, claiming two trophies in his first season and guiding Man United to their best ever Premier League points total since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, alongside guiding them to the FA Cup final.
Speaking on Sky Sports on Thursday, Bellamy noted that Mourinho had been fired as something of a quick fix by United.
“With United, they’re used to winning trophies,” he said. “And of course, he’ll look and say I’ve done it but the league is what it’s about.
“The Busby way, the songs the fans sing, that’s their identity. Their history is incredible. I believe their desperation to get back on top, to the top of the league, is why they went for Mourinho.
“They said forget about the identity, don’t worry about what’s gone on before, this is what we need right now, just get us there.
“I’m not going to sit here and say Mourinho isn’t a brilliant manager, of course he is, but in my own terms he’s not a Manchester United manager – what I’m used to, what I’ve watched this great club produce, their identity and how they play, how they’ve stuck to it down the years.
“He is the opposite to what their supporters sing, or used to sing. They set the identity, it’s their club.”
Bellamy is absolutely not wrong here. The club did, following three seasons of aimless football and lacking any concrete identity, opt for the man who was most likely to guarantee success, to find a way.
They did not hire Mourinho with an eye towards a grander long term plan; they hired Mourinho to clear out the psychological cobwebs, restore a meaningful backbone to the side, and engender a sense of resilience and winning nous to the squad.
In the process, a platform would be set, the squad in good condition both in terms of psychology and personnel, ahead of perhaps a younger manager with fresh attacking ideas taking the mantle.
Mourinho may not be perfect, but he is on course to deliver exactly that.