Why Jose Mourinho is still the man to bring the Premier League title back to Manchester Unitedby Harris Simpson / 10 August 2017, 14:16Tweet
Ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season Manchester United fan Harris Simpson (@simpsonharris1) argues why his beloved Red Devils are going to take the top-flight by storm this season.
Overcoming The Sir Alex Ferguson Hangover
A major flaw in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era has been Man Utd's inability to break down teams at Old Trafford.
David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, have all struggled to get United to perform in the same cavalier spirit as the legendary Scot, and while it goes without saying that they still look someway off the title-winning side of 2012/13, never mind that of 1998/99, United have undoubtedly made progress under the Portuguese coach.
Converting Draws Into Wins
Last season, Mourinho was guilty of drawing too many games, however, as any United fan subjected to Van Gaal's chessboard football would attest, the Portuguese tactician drastically improved the club’s style of play.
When playing United, managers often set their team up to defend both narrowly and in numbers, searching for a draw, and thanks to some utterly atrocious finishing, they usually got it.
This will certainly have pained Mourinho, who will have been crestfallen his tactics were not enough to secure victory, but with another season under his player’s belts, he will believe this to be nothing more than an anomaly.
This time around, Mourinho’s pragmatism means that he is well placed to combat a tactic which is not just limited, but incredibly obvious.
A Concrete Spine
Despite that costly run of draws, Mourinho has made United an extremely difficult side to beat, and the two trophies won - League Cup and Europa League - are testament to the his ability to make a team stronger than the sum of its parts.
Mourinho, more than anyone else, will have been aware of United’s shortcomings, and the signings of Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku have not only strengthened the team’s spine, but also made them one of the most physically imposing teams in the division.
After a season under his stewardship, United finally look like a Mourinho side, and should the team’s younger players improve as expected, 4/1 priced United will be right in amongst it this campaign.
From Drab To Dynamite In Attack
On paper, United have more than enough attacking options to rack up the goals, however, in reality the Red Devils found themselves 32 strikes behind last season’s top scorers Tottenham.
The signing of Lukaku will do much to compensate for the goals provided by Zlatan Ibrahimovic - who could return in January - but Mourinho will know that United need more from the supporting cast, and he will expect the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to provide.
Both players are young, but their inconsistency no doubt cost United last season. Getting the pair to reach the next level will be key in completing United’s transformation, and in turn would help to displace the myth of Mourinho’s inability to get the most out of youth. It’s a challenge he will no doubt be relishing, and should he get it right, United’s goal scoring woes should be well and truly behind them.
The reality is no side will look forward to playing United next season, largely in part to the influence Mourinho has now exerted over his squad. The Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba axis has everything Mourinho desires in a midfield, while the athleticism of Eric Baily and Antonio Valencia, coupled with power of Lukaku, gives the team a presence it has not had for many a year.
6th To Champions?
Mourinho is renowned for his ability to transform teams into Champions during his second season, and the way he has meticulously cherry picked his signings means that United finally look ready to be considered as such.
In the wake of Ferguson’s departure, United had lost all sense of identity, but Mourinho looks to have finally stamped his authority on a squad badly in need of leadership.
Mourinho achieved much in his first season, two trophies (three if you include the Community Shield…) is something certainly not to be scoffed at, and while the club’s 25 game unbeaten run was fundamentally underwhelming, it shows that the grit needed to win the league is embedded in the squad.
Mourinho’s real test will be how he can make sure the same impotence and profligacy isn’t repeated this campaign, and if he does that, he will take some stopping.