Jose Mourinho is absolutely the wrong choice for Manchester United


Jose Mourinho’s sacking by Chelsea last week coupled with the continued bad form of Manchester United, managed by one of the Portuguese manager’s coaching mentors Louis van Gaal, has led to rampant speculation that the Red Devils will soon make a change. Mourinho has made it clear he has no intention of taking a sabbatical from management and that his preferred destination remains in England. “English football is my football,” he has long proclaimed. While the homecoming at Chelsea did not go completely to plan, he remains a desirable figure even an enchanted one throughout much of the country.

Some sources in England have indicated Manchester United may strike while the iron is hot, giving van Gaal just one or two matches to turn around the Red Devils’ season. The change in direction from United would appear a panic move considering the club remains just a few points behind most likely title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal. Of course, elimination from the UEFA Champions League in a group that was by most objective standards the softest drawn by an English club has hurt van Gaal’s case for retention. More importantly van Gaal’s Red Devils side has failed to play the type of eye-catching, attractive soccer Manchester United fans both in Northwest of England and around the globe have long craved.

Even when results were satisfactory earlier in the season, United was far from convincing. As a steward of a global brand, Chief Executive Ed Woodward is conscious of both the financial implications of potentially falling out of UEFA Champions League contention for next season as well the impact from a perception standpoint of the club’s stature. More important from a global marketing standpoint, Bayern Munich seems to have replaced Manchester United as the third wheel so to speak of the global triumvirate of super-clubs where Barcelona and Real Madrid’s positions are secure. Woodward is tasked by the US-based Glazer family who owns the club to keep United among the elite globally, and thus he might feel impulsive when it comes to dealing with van Gaal’s failings.

But Jose Mourinho would be the absolute wrong choice for the Red Devils. One of van Gaal’s major accomplishments in his short time at Old Trafford has been a willingness to blood let younger players whose futures are critical for the club to continue to compete at a high level. The Dutch manager has also cleared out dead wood from the squad in an aggressive manner.

However, van Gaal’s prickly personality, eerily similar to Mourinho’s, as well as his willingness to sacrifice style for results, has not gone over particularly well. The irony is that van Gaal had in the past very openly spoken about entertainment value and its relationship to the big clubs he’s managed – particularly Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He’s been an innovator, unleashing Arjen Robben on the world as a right-sided winger with an incredible left foot where he could cut inside naturally (prior managers that Robben had including Mourinho had always played the winger on the left). But those types of innovations and desire to entertain have eluded van Gaal in Manchester. In retrospect, the Dutch manager perhaps should have retired following a successful World Cup in 2014, but he did not.

At Manchester United, Mourinho will find a fan base accustomed to success and in many ways more versed and sophisticated about European football than Chelsea’s supporters. He will find supporters that won’t be mesmerized by his previous accomplishments, his taunting of rivals or the mind games he plays with the media. Most importantly, he will find supporters focused on aesthetics. Winning is important, no doubt, but how you win is as critical. Entertainment will not be sacrificed for pragmatism unless you are winning every trophy in sight, something Mourinho is unlikely to do with the Red Devils.

SEE MORE: A timeline of Jose Mourinho’s annus horribilis

Mourinho’s ability to mesmerize, perhaps even manipulate, some Chelsea fans into believing anything about referees, the media, his own players and management will not work at Manchester United. Unlike Chelsea, the Red Devils have a history of unrivaled success in the English game to fall back on in addition to a hard-core global supporter’s base that might be the largest on the planet. The contrast between Mourinho’s bitter personality and the bright figure of Jürgen Klopp at United’s largest rival Liverpool could also cause the Red Devils grief and embarrassment.

After all, a club like Manchester United can hire just about any manager it wants. Bringing in a manager with a track record of creating dressing room discord, dissent in the board room and manipulating the media when better alternatives are likely available is a bad idea. Mourinho never lasts long in any job, and Manchester United is more a Real Madrid than a Chelsea – a club whose stature and ideals are far greater than that of a narcissistic temporary leader.

While several jobs in England, perhaps even the English National Team post would make sense for Mourinho, Manchester United does not. To appoint him would indicate a large degree of desperation on the part of Ed Woodward and the Glazer family.

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One Response

  1. Ihunanya Nwafor December 28, 2015

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