From Sir Alex to Mourinho in Three (not so) Easy Steps.
The appointment of Jose Mourinho as Manchester United manager had been a long time coming. Since 2013 in fact, just after Sir Alex Ferguson announced that he would be stepping down at the end of that season…
The rumours had been there, but when Sir Alex made it public in May, as United were on the verge of winning a twentieth league title, it still hit a lot of us hard. Even many anti-United supporters were shocked to hear that one of the best managers Britain had ever produced was calling it a day after leading United to 28 trophies (Charity Shields not counted). Many thought that Mourinho was a shoe-in back then as he had made his feelings known that he wanted to join United. Instead, a day after Sir Alex told us that he would retire we were informed that David Moyes was ‘The Chosen One’. And so it was that after the last home game that season, Sir Alex told us that our “job now is to stand by our new manager. That is important.” And a week later he rode off into the sunset (metaphorically speaking of course, as he still has his fingers deep in the massive United pie).
Step One – David Moyes ‘Crosses’ us all:
When the supposedly new ‘era’ began and Moyes started his job a few weeks later, we were all still giddy from winning a thirteenth Premier League title, and most of the squad that had done that was still there, so we thought that he would settle in nicely into the ‘United mantra’. Even if many of us thought the new banner put up for him in the Stretford End seemed premature, at least we were showing our old manager that we would stand by our new manager. I suppose we should have seen the warning signs when Moyes brought in his own staff from ‘mid-table’ Everton instead of keeping the more experienced backroom members already at the club, and he also brought in Fellaini as his first major signing.
But United beat relegated Wigan in the Charity Shield, making us hope it was the first of many trophies Moyes could bring to Old Trafford (yes, the Charity Shield counts for Moyes). Then we beat Swansea 4-1 in the first league game of the season, but it was all pretty much downhill from there as negative records started falling like dominoes. It all came to a head in February when United played Fulham at home in a game that became infamous for the EIGHTY-ONE crosses fired into the Fulham box in a game that United could only draw 2-2. The cringing and embarrassment of most United fans reached another level after some ‘clever Richards’ flew a banner reading ‘The Wrong One – Moyes Out’ over Old Trafford when United hosted Villa at the end of March. After that, it was just a matter of time until Moyes, Steve Round and their iPads were shown the door, and that duly happened in late April after ten months of “aspiring to be like City,” “trying to make it hard for Newcastle,” and “being the underdogs” when facing L’pool at home. Ryan Giggs took over as interim manager for the last four games of the season, where United finished seventh and became the ‘worst Premier League title defenders’ (thankfully Chelsea took that mantle by finishing ninth this season).
Step Two – Louis van Gaal and his ‘Philoshophy’.
Enter the Dutchman – With quite a bit of fanfare as well (though I suppose after Moyes’ tenure we’d have cheered any manager being appointed). We watched the 2014 World Cup with even more interest as OUR new manager was there with his country. When Holland beat Spain 5-1 and he high-fived United’s Van Persie after one of the goals, we were in seventh heaven and couldn’t wait for the new season to start. Though that wasn’t as bright as we had hoped, it was a vast improvement on the previous one, and the mission to finish in the top four was achieved. We had our usual highs and lows and enjoyed a lot of it, even if there were more lows then we were used to under Sir Alex (though not as many lows as Falcao had while on loan from Monaco). Van Gaal got rid of much dead weight too, which there was quite a bit of at the club.
When last season came around, we believed him when he said United were ready to mount a title challenge, especially after Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Darmian and Memphis joined the fold. Ed Woodward even let him spend over £35m for a ‘waste of money’ that went by the name of Anthony Martial. That’s as good as it got though, as United toiled to score goals at Old Trafford, and though they only lost two out of the first thirteen league games, we could see that the ‘philoshophy’ wasn’t working. That was clearly shown in December, when United didn’t win a single game out of five that included defeats to newly promoted sides Bournemouth and Norwich. After that it was an uphill struggle to try and finish in the top four in a season where we had waved goodbye to the Champions League in December.
Van Gaal’s one saving grace was the FA Cup, who he managed to win in his last game in charge. It’s an achievement not to be sneered at as it’s a trophy we had been craving for twelve years, since United had last won it in 2004. It put us back on the perch as the team who won it most (12 times, same as Arsenal). Right after the game, the cat was let out of the bag, and news gathered pace that Jose Mourinho would come in to save the day. Van Gaal really rode into the sunset before the club announced his departure officially, and we were at least left celebrating an FA Cup win. Other positives from Van Gaal’s time are the performances against the ‘big’ sides, the four wins in the league against L’pool and the emergence of a few very good youngsters. Though many will say that he only gave them their chance because of a small squad, remember it was Van Gaal himself who wanted fewer players just so the youngsters get their chance if and when needed.
Step Three – Jose Mourinho: The (un)wanted One.
And here we are, with the Portuguese master getting his dream job three years after he thought it was his. Many of us (me included) didn’t want him anywhere near our club as he doesn’t exactly endear himself to those outside of it (and sometimes those within the clubs he manages as well), but as they say, ‘needs must’ and we definitely need someone who must take us back to the top and he can certainly do that. Right now it’s not even worth thinking about how he usually leaves a club after around three years, as it’s all about the present for a United that has fallen off its perch in the Premier League and Europe. So here’s hoping that he takes us back to the top while acting like a proper manager (and gentleman) should. One thing’s for sure, it will not be boring for the next couple of seasons… COME ON UNITED!!!