Jose Mourinho, who I described as the dead man walking in my previous article, seemed to have his fate written for him regardless of the score in the match against Newcastle over the weekend. A rumor fleeted through after Mourinho had conducted his pre-match press conference that he would be sacked regardless of United’s result against Newcastle and it drew a passionate response from former Manchester United captain, current TV pundit, Gary Neville who was clearly disgusted if the rumor was true.
I didn’t watch the match to be able to comment on how United played but I did follow the match via text and the United app to know that it was a disastrous beginning for United, going 0-2 down within the first 10 minutes of the first half. At that time, it looked like things were just getting worse at a time when things couldn’t get any worse. Somehow, United dug deep and produced a response that was typical of the United of old to overturn the result and win 3-2 and restore some feel-good factor to everyone associated with the club.
Would this win, the comeback, the performance be the catalyst for a better short-term future for United? Or did it just paper over the cracks that are so well documented and delay the inevitable? Only time will tell. Going back to the passionate response from Gary Neville. He speaks a lot of truth about the situation United find themselves in.
After a point, the fall guy cannot be the manager if every single one that was appointed after Sir Alex Ferguson retired has failed to bring United back to the heights it was at. The appointment was made by the CEO and the board and if they keep getting this decision wrong, they should be the fall guys now and not the manager.
It seems that United’s focus since Sir Alex has retired has shifted from on the pitch success to off the field profits. Off the field, United is doing very well making huge profits annually completely unaffected by how the team is playing or that the team is no longer the force that it was and as successful on the pitch. Ed Woodward doesn’t come across as a person who has much clue on what it takes to ensure success on the pitch based on the signings he has made, the fees he has paid to make those signings, the wages offered and his managerial appointments.
United has been stuck in a transitional lurch for so long that despite any promise of getting out of it soon in the recent past, United still find themselves in the same spot. It has been two steps forward and one step back all the time. It was a recipe for disaster from the time Jose Mourinho was denied the signing of reinforcements he felt the team needed and what is playing out now is to be expected. Some would argue that this was to be expected from the time the club appointed Mourinho after considering his record and reputation with his previous clubs.
Granted Mourinho looks a bit out-dated in his tactics and strategy and he seems to have lost the spark that he had when he was at Porto, Chelsea, and Inter. We will never really know what Mourinho is trying to get this United team to do if he is not allowed to sign players he feels can help improve the team. It is not true too that Mourinho has always been denied signings because he has got the signings he wanted from the time he joined the club until now, it has just not worked out very well for the signings he has made. The promise of his first season was not built on and although last season was an improvement in terms of his league position and he has the highest win percentage of any United manager at this point of time, the playing style is hardly pleasing to the eye or pleasant to watch and it is grating to the typical United fan accustomed to watching a different style of football.
However, I always point out that in the first season and at least the first part of last season, United under Mourinho has played the kind of open, free-flowing football that is typical of United. Things have just not been the same since and the playing style has deteriorated. As long as the team is winning, no-one will say much about it but the moment the team drops a point, the grumbles get louder. There are United fans that wish Mourinho will be sacked or walks away soon but in this public battle now between the owner and manager, a majority of the fans are getting behind the manager and the team to help get them up again. Let’s see where United heads to from here.