Manchester United Football Club achieved their best Premier League finish post-Sir Alex Ferguson in 2017/18. The efficient Jose Mourinho guided his time to second in the table; some 19 points off the pace of eventual winners, Manchester City.
Despite losing the FA Cup final in dire circumstances, I think it’s fair to say the Old Trafford faithful were largely happy with the progression. However, things can change immensely quickly in football. Just two months down the line, United’s outlook suddenly looks an awful lot dimmer.
Mourinho and third-season issues have fit like a hand in a glove. Whether it’s a mental barrier or sheer boredom, the issues slowly start to creep in for the Portuguese. The only difference to date is the fact that he’s normally got a top-flight title or two under his belt. Obviously, that’s not happened at the Theatre of Dreams.
José Mourinho: "One thing is what I would like, another is what is going to happen. I want to get two more players." (Source: ESPN) pic.twitter.com/8GSehn0P9C
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) July 24, 2018
Issues with the board are already becoming apparent. After signing an injured Fred, an injured Diogo Dalot and an ageing Lee Grant, it seems as though Mourinho wanted more. In a shortened transfer window, with just three weeks remaining, Edward Woodward has to act quickly and secure the targets his manager wants. Whether this is actually factual remains to be seen, it could well be our Portuguese coach acting up once again…
Then you have the Anthony Martial disagreement. Understandably, Mourinho wants the Frenchman gone. Why should he keep an unhappy player at the club? On the flip side, though, you can also see the club’s willingness to want him to stay. He’s a talented player with immense capabilities. It’s a fine balancing act. I can see the logic behind both sides of the coin.
Mourinho’s overall demeanour seems one of negativity. Somewhat like a kid who has thrown the toys out of the pram after not getting what he wants. While on tour, I don’t think I’ve seen him crack one smile. There’s an eerie feeling about the place. We’ve seen it before, time and time again. Has he really lost his mojo?
We’re in a results business. Yes, it’s meaningless pre-season friendlies, but back-to-back draws against Club America and San Jose Earthquakes just isn’t good enough. With games against Inter Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid still to come, we could be heading back to Manchester with zero momentum and no victories under our belts. Talk about confidence-killer.
If things are to change, new signings are a must, as is clearing some of the dead-wood. Bringing in Harry Maguire would be an excellent start, but United need far more than that. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process.
For now, the jury is out. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that Edward Woodward already has a contingency plan in place, though. Zinedine Zidane, anyone?