Retrospect is a funny thing – Jose Mourinho’s reign at Manchester United looks rosier than ever as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggles under the burden of expectations. FOX Sports Asia takes a look at five things the Portuguese got right during his time at United because of which he deserved a bit more time.
1. First season – three trophies
United’s league campaign in Mourinho’s first full season in charge ended in a dismal 6th place finish but he did manage to bring back the trophy-winning culture, becoming the only manager to win trophies in his first full season at the club. A Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired League Cup win over Southampton followed by the Europa League against Ajax meant United were finally coming around to being winners once again.
2. Highest league finish since Sir Alex Ferguson
Mourinho’s claim that second position with United is his greatest achievement in football is far-fetched at best, especially considering he spent over 200 million Pounds on assembling the squad.
What cannot be ignored, however, is that United did indeed finish second, their highest league finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. It gave renewed optimism to fans and made them believe that they weren’t too far away, however short-lived that feeling may have been.
3. Bringing Scott McTominay through
If there has been a shining light in United’s recent drab period since the end of last season, it has been academy boy Scott McTominay. Not for his silky skills or technical ability, but for ‘personality’ – something sorely missing in the team.
The fans love him as one of their own and so did Mourinho, praising him for his ‘special character’ and always trusting him in big games. McTominay too has picked up where he left off under Solskjaer and could go one to be one of those famous Mourinho protégés.
4. Signing Victor Lindelof
Before signing a contract extension with United, Victor Lindelof was courted by the likes of Barcelona and credit must go to the man who brought him to United. The Swede’s first season in England was managed carefully by the Portuguese.
Mourinho gave him ample game time while protecting him equally well and the rewards are being reaped by United – he has firmly established himself as the first-choice partner to Harry Maguire at the heart of their defence and looks set to stay for years to come.
5. Marking the need for a defender
The beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho at United was the time he was denied a centre-back by the board, something that might ironically also go down as one of his key-contributions. Mourinho’s media whine-frenzy was well documented but as the season went on, his team’s defensive frailties were in the open for everyone to see.
Eventually, the hierarchy realised the problem, culminating in the 80 million Euro signing of Harry Maguire, too late for the manager who first wanted it, but just in time that United can avail his services for the foreseeable future.