He may be no stranger to a back-page headline or two, but Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho has been the subject of more debate than usual over the past few months. Whether it’s been a declaration that the Portuguese has “lost his touch”, “lost the dressing room” or whatever else it is supposed to be that he’s misplaced, it could be said that rarely has Mourinho cut such a underwhelming figure on the touchlines.
Public criticism of his players and excuses being offered for any sub-par performance have been pretty commonplace this season, and listening to radio phone-ins there seems to be a growing number of Man Utd supporters who want to see Mourinho booted out of Old Trafford and replaced with a man who can offer them the “style of football” they so desire. His public treatment of Luke Shaw really hasn’t been great, and his allowance to let Wayne Rooney leave Man Utd raised some eyebrows (though the majority seemed to agree with that call).
Mourinho, however, remains defiant relating to these claims, and has regularly stated his belief that this Man Utd team is an improving one. The thing is, he is right. It seems to be an upgrade over any seen since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 – United’s last title-winning side. United look a good bet to finish the season in 2nd place, their highest finish since the Ferguson era ended. Not only that, but they look set to finish 2nd to a team that no-one has been able to keep up with over the course of the campaign, and seldom have they even been matched on a given afternoon.
Man City have been well worth their title win, but United have kept those chasing them at arm’s length in their bid to take the runners-up spot. Liverpool have done well to stay as close as they have done, but United should be OK to keep it up for the last few games of the season. Despite them not playing a style of football the Stretford End faithful have been too happy with, they are generally getting the results. In any other season without such a runaway leader, United would still be well in contention to take home their first Premier League trophy in five years.
This has been the longest spell without a league title since the Premier League began way back in 1992, and Mourinho was heralded upon his arrival in the north west as the man to end the hoodoo of unpopular managers since the Scot departed. He does, of course, still have a large amount of support at the club, and rightfully so. He is well versed in success, and has already overseen triumph in the League Cup, the Europa League and the Community Shield. Of course a league title and a Champions League win remain elusive, but he has time to add those to his collection at the Red Devils.
He is more than accurate in his assessment that this season has been an improvement over previous seasons – and assuming he remains in the red half of Manchester for a while yet, he will almost certainly find his side in contention for those honours before too long.
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