Gary Neville draws comparison between Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United

by Harry Robinson

Gary Neville has urged Manchester United to “buy in to” Jose Mourinho’s managerial reign and therefore achieve consistency and stability at the club.

Mourinho is the third permanent manager at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 on the back of his 13th Premier League title victory. He’s the only one of the Scot’s three successors to have won more than one trophy, but didn’t manage to secure any silverware last season.

The start of this season has been Man United’s worst ever to a Premier League campaign, since the advent of the tournament in 1992. Mourinho’s side lost three of their opening seven fixtures, but escaped from a run of poor results with a 3-2 comeback victory against Newcastle United on Saturday evening.

Neville believes that the United board must now show support to Mourinho, both vocally but also financially in the transfer market when it re-opens in January.

Reports before the Newcastle game suggested that United were set to sack Mourinho whatever the result against the Magpies. Those have now been proved wrong, of course.

“United have to buy in to Mourinho as manager, give him the confidence and not undermine him and just go with it,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“If Jose was to be changed, the new manager will see a few players he doesn’t like and then you’re in that cycle of continually changing.”

Neville drew comparisons to Ferguson, who struggled to reach the heights of the 1994 double-winning side or 1999 treble-winning side during a sticky period in the early-to-mid 2000s. While Arsenal dominated, Chelsea were an up-and-coming club and presented anew challenge when Mourinho himself arrived from FC Porto.

Yet a few years later, Ferguson had built another of his great sides, and arguably his best ever. The 2007-2011 period saw United win the title in four out of five seasons and reach three UEFA Champions League finals.

“Jose is a serial win, and I don’t buy into this theory that he’s finished,” Neville explained. “I heard that from 2003 to 2006 about Sir Alex. There were suggestions that it was the end of Sir Alex, but he needed to build a new team, and Jose needs time to work it out.

“I hope the club can back Jose with the players he wants in January, and the players he doesn’t want. That’s the key thing. I’ve got the feeling in the last few months that the club have retreated a little bit on him in the transfer market.”

Mourinho has made many mistakes at United and there are many good arguments for United to sack him. However, he wanted a centre-back in summer and United’s terrible defensive performances have proved him right after the club’s board reportedly refused to buy the players he wanted. Perhaps if he had been backed fully, things would be different.

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