Manchester United have failed to succeed since the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of the 2012/13 season. Their new era under Jose Mourinho has brought mixed fortunes but can the “special one” haul United back to the glory days?
It’s been a rollercoaster season in Mourinho’s debut season at Old Trafford. The former Chelsea manager has failed to finish inside the top four but has led them to EFL Cup glory and the Europa League final.
Many have already questioned whether Mourinho has improved the team, since succeeding Van Gaal at the end of last season. The red devils also broke the bank for world record signing Paul Pogba from Juventus in the summer, so expectations were inevitably high at the Theatre of Dreams.
The United we know now, is a huge contrast to the United we knew under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s been a downward spiral since the famous Scot announced his retirement at the end of the 2012/13 season.
David Moyes originally replaced Ferguson but was sacked in April 2014, just ten months into his tenure. Former Everton manager Moyes was appointed due to his ability to build teams but he wasn’t given an opportunity to achieve success via this route.
Louis Van Gaal, legendary Ajax manager, was the next leader to enter the door at Carrington’s training ground. Could he stop the rot and put United back on the platform where they belong? Momentarily, the future looked bright, after the Dutchman guided them back into the Champions League.
However, Manchester United embarrassingly exited the competitions at the group stages in the following season. This was just the beginning of an extremely poor season at Old Trafford, despite winning the FA Cup in Van Gaal’s last game as manager of the club.
So, they found themselves without Champions League football once again and called upon the man who once called himself the “special one”. A man who was looking to prove himself, after being sacked by his beloved team Chelsea in December 2015.
Many indulged on the fact that a manager of Mourinho’s qualities was joining Manchester United. Others argued that due to his failure at Chelsea, he could struggle to pull United from certain death and play a heroic role in taking them back to where they belong.
Nine years ago, Manchester United were preparing themselves for the Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow. Fast forward to 2017 and they are in the Europa League final set to face Dutch giants Ajax in Stockholm on 24 May.
Does this emphasis the drop in United’s standards or signal the beginning of the rise of Manchester United under Jose Mourinho?
It’s Going to be an Eventful Summer…
Jose Mourinho has expressed his discontent with a number of Manchester United stars in his first season at the club. He’s ruffled a few feathers and they could set to fly away in the summer transfer window.
Luke Shaw, who suffered a double leg break in September 2015, is one of the stars to feel the force from the Portuguese leader. It seems Mourinho isn’t impressed by his work rate and attitude, leading to uncertainty regarding his future.
Matteo Darmian has also been favoured to the English left-back, which surely suggests he’ll be departing Old Trafford in the summer. Where he could be heading next? He’s been linked with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Wayne Rooney has also been a distant image of his former self in the past two years and the clock is ticking on his Manchester United career. Links to China, America and other European clubs have continuously been emerging over the past couple of months but it could soon be a reality.
Marouane Fellaini has been utilized effectively in the Europa League this season but it seems his style seriously doesn’t fit in with Manchester United’s expectations of their ideal type of midfielder. They have been blessed with the talent of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Paul Ince and Bryan Robson over the years.
I don’t think I’d be too wrong in saying that the Belgian midfielder doesn’t really fit into the same category as those former legends. Little rumours have emerged of his possible destination but if the money is right, United won’t be holding back on offloading their Sideshow Bob lookalike reject.
Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have also come under fire from Mourinho, due to their injury problems. Mourinho has criticised them for failing to “play through the pain” and this is surely likely to create discomfort between the pair and their manager.
Anthony Martial has failed to live up to expectations in his second season at the Theatre of Dreams. His next destination could be a return to France, possibly Paris Saint-Germain, but United have denied that there is any truth to those rumours.
Juan Mata has also received less playing time in the closing stages of the season. He’s effective when playing but Mourinho has continuously left him out of the game, which could lead to him finding somewhere else to gain more playing time.
I’ll finish off the transfer rumours regarding departures with David De Gea, who may be leaving for the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season. The deal fell through in September 2015 but he may finally make his dream move this summer.
Romelu Lukaku has refused to sign a new contract at Goodison Park and the media continue to speculate a possible move to Manchester United. Lukaku is currently the top goal scorer in the Premier League with 24 goals.
The price tag is set to a hefty one due to his superb goals record this season but it’s something United are seriously craving. They’ve also been linked with the likes of Willian, Danny Rose, James Rodriguez and Michael Keane in recent weeks.
Jose Mourinho needs to sell on the deadwood and bring in several players to improve the team. A replacement for De Gea (if he leaves) is essential, a leader at the back is a must, a left-back, holding midfielder, winger and striker in the transfer window would seriously boost their chances next season.
The Statistics You Need to Know…
• United have only scored 52 goals this season, every team above them have at least scored 21 or more goals than them in the Premier League.
• Bournemouth have scored more goals than Manchester United this season, scoring 54 times in the Premier League.
• The red devils have drawn 14 games this season, which is more than any other team.
• They have the second best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding only 29 goals.
• 33% of their Premier League goals have been scored by Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic this season.
• They are 15th place in the Premier League Fair Play table.
• Pogba has lost the ball more than any other Manchester United player this season. He has been dispossessed 1.8 times per game and has made 2.7 unsuccessful touches per game in his returning season.
• United have averaged 15.9 shots per game but only average 1.5 goals per game in the Premier League this season.
• They’ve scored three more goals so far this season, than they managed under Van Gaal in their last campaign (49).
• They enjoyed a 25-match unbeaten run this season, they only remained unbeaten for 5 consecutive games last season.
• Ibrahimovic has scored 11 goals more than any other United player, Mata is their second top goal scorer with 6.