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01st Feb 2016

OPINION: Sorry Manchester United fans, but Jose Mourinho isn’t the answer

The wrong man for the job

Robert Redmond

It was the inevitable reaction.

When Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that he’ll step down down as Manchester City manager at the end of the season, to be replaced by Pep Guardiola, Manchester United fans on social media were sent into a tailspin.

Reactions varied from anger at their own club’s apparent complacency, to shuddering at the thought of Louis van Gaal, or Ryan Giggs, pitting their wits against Guardiola next season.

The vast majority seemed to conclude that there is only answer to their problem: Jose Mourinho.

These fans seem to have visions of an apocalyptic scenario if the club don’t appoint the former Chelsea manager.

The club’s descent into mediocrity will be all but confirmed as they slip even further behind their Manchester rivals.

However, to claim that United need to appoint Mourinho because City now have Guardiola makes little, if any, sense.

There’s also little to suggest the Portuguese is the right man to succeed Van Gaal.

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

Firstly, Guardiola and Mourinho have polar opposite views on the game, and how their teams should play. Mourinho isn’t a consolation prize for not securing Guardiola.

If the United hierarchy really believed Guardiola was the man to replace Van Gaal and, now that they’ve missed out on him, they want Mourinho, it would just confirm the suspicion of many fans that their football knowledge is next to non-existent.

A club source reportedly told journalists that Van Gaal is a “genius manager”, and such thinking reflects why the club continue to slip towards mediocrity.

Manchester City haven’t appointed Guardiola because he’s a celebrity or a “genius manager”.

The Bayern Munich manager is the best coach available and possesses the skills to bring players such as Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to another level. He’ll make the senior players, such as David Silva and Sergio Aguero, better and commands such respect he might even be able to convince Yaya Toure to break into a sprint.

The club’s directors Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano worked with Guardiola at Barcelona and have cultivated a first-team squad ready made for him to make an instant impact.

That Guardiola is a “genius” or a celebrity would be inconsequential, although he will undoubtedly raise the profile of the club even further.

If United want a celebrity manager, and someone to provoke Guardiola, then Mourinho would be ideal, but that’s it.

Almost everything else about the former Chelsea manager suggests the club would be wise to look elsewhere.

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

For a start, it’s difficult to fathom fans seeking Mourinho to replace “boring” Van Gaal.

In the 2013/14 season, Mourinho’s first year in his second spell as Chelsea manager, Sunderland were the only other team to take more points from the top 10 teams than those in bottom half.

This reflects Mourinho’s negative approach that was figured out this season. Give his side the ball and they struggle to break teams down.

Back in December 2013, Mourinho said after his team lost to Sunderland that a change in tactics had to occur.

“It’s something I don’t want to do, to play more counter-attacking, but I’m giving it serious thought. If I want to win 1-0 I think I can as I think it is one of the easiest things in football. It is not so difficult, as you don’t give players the chance to express themselves.”

Does that sound like the “Manchester United way?” What would the United legends working in the media say after watching another turgid display at Old Trafford?

Or would it not matter as long as United were winning? If success alone, at the expense of entertainment or creative freedom, is all that now matters to fans then it’s time to drop the pretences that United are somehow superior or different.

That a “Manchester United way” exists, that the club’s tradition of bringing through exciting young players is still a priority or fans will be entertained at Old Trafford.

Mourinho won’t care about any of that. He guarantees conflict, and in the past success, but his record in recent years suggests he can no longer even provide the trophies that secured his reputation.Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

If we look at Mourinho’s career in two halves, the second beginning when he joined Real Madrid in 2010, after winning the Champions League with Inter Milan, then the latter part is evidently less successful.

Chelsea sleepwalked to the Premier League title last season, Real Madrid won La Liga in 2012, after he waged psychological warfare against Guardiola and he’s won some domestic cups.

Mourinho’s distrust of flair players goes beyond Van Gaal’s, and time appears to have caught them both. Games are more open, and teams are now more tactically flexible.

Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

Mourinho also found it possible to fall out with a squad containing Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas and deemed Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku surplus to requirement.

So imagine how he’ll react to working with Marouanne Fellaini. Even for a genius manager, and not yesterday’s man, the current United squad is a tough job.

United have other issues that go beyond who is in the dugout, but they should steer clear of Mourinho.

Someone like Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino would be ideal.

He has built a well-balanced, talented squad, that possess an excellent work ethic. They’re also enjoyable to watch, Pochettino gives young players a chance and is also reportedly a hard task manager.

That sounds a manager who’d fit “the Manchester United way.”

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