Have people forgotten we are not supposed to like Manchester United? Have people forgotten that it is generally a sign they are doing quite well?
There seems to be much debate over whether Jose Mourinho is doing a good job for the Red Devils.
What we can say, though, is that he’s making progress and if it wasn’t for the freak form of Manchester City – they would be top of the Christmas tree. Or, at the very least, in the middle of a closely fought title race.
With a points tally of 41 after 18 games, Mourinho’s men are eight points better off than this time last year. He has also already secured two major trophies and after missing out on the top four altogether last term – second place to the current City team is not bad going. AT ALL.
Of course, Manchester United shouldn’t be settling for second best, but let’s look at the perspective. Sir Alex Ferguson’s last title-winning team wasn’t strong. They had Robin van Persie and the absence of a strong rival to thank for Fergie finishing on a high. During the 2012/13 season, they won the title with 89 points. Man City have 52 already.
To put that into context, Pep Guardiola’s side can drop 16 points over the rest of the campaign and still beat Chelsea’s 2004/05 record for most in a Premier League season (95), secured during Mourinho’s first term managing in the division.
We then move on to the David Moyes and Louis van Gaal United eras. There was a lack of identity, lack of positive results and in general an uninspiring forecast for the the short or indeed long-term future.
This is now not the case. Of every Manchester United player to take part in the current league campaign, the average age is 26.6. In Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and more – they have a core of developing talent that can help this team for years to come – even after Jose moves on.
And can we stop the ‘Park The Bus’ nonsense, too, please?
Yes, they have been slightly too reserved in a couple of big games, but having racked up four goals on six occasions this season – or, to put it another one, in a third of their total top-flight matches this term – they sit as the second-highest scorers in the Premier League, with 39.
Mourinho isn’t employed to make sure broadcasters get the games they pay so much money for, anyway. His job is to get the best possible result for his team.
A manager should also be judged heavily on how much they get out of the players they have. Maybe they get an extra 20% from the so-called ‘average’ squad players. Mourinho has excelled here. Phil Jones is having the best season of his United career, Ashley Young has contributed positively, Marouane Fellaini has won large sections of the fans over and the aforementioned Lingard, with four goals and an assist in his last five league games is on course for his best campaign ever.
There will be counter arguments to all of this, of course there will. Has Mourinho handled Luke Shaw well enough? Why has Ander Herrera’s form dropped? Is too much pressure on Romelu Lukaku? Does he not trust his team to beat the big boys? These are all fair questions. Let’s be honest though – on the whole Mourinho is doing a grand job of getting Manchester United closer to where they should be. This is winning major trophies and competing for titles.
I can hear people screaming ‘BUT THEY LOST TO BRISTOL CITY IN THE LEAGUE CUP!’ – let’s remember their record in this competition in their most successful seasons. Only once have they won the Premier League and the League Cup in the same campaign. And besides, he’s already won it with United last season. Mourinho now knows they have bigger fish to fry. It is all about the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup – in that order.
The Europa League took on more focus last season through necessity, but the more Manchester United should be concerned with the secondary competitions, the more worried their fans should be.
Their local rivals are clearly the team to beat in the league, but it would be a brave person to rule out Mourinho’s men lifting either the Champions League or FA Cup. Throw in the fact they are on track for their biggest points total since the 2013 title winners and, even in the modern football climate of ‘criticism is best’, we can perhaps afford to throw a LITTLE bit of credit in the direction of the Special One.
Under Sir Alex, Man Utd were respected and feared.
Under Moyes, Man Utd were mocked and intimidated.
Under Van Gaal, Man Utd were draining and lifeless.
Under Mourinho, Man Utd are respected again and well on their way to becoming one of the most feared teams in Europe.
Many people don’t like them. Many people don’t like Mourinho. You might say, it’s the perfect fit.
The post In defence of Jose Mourinho: Let’s get some perspective on Man Utd’s season so far appeared first on Squawka News.
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