Monday, May 15, 2017

Mourinho's Standard of Success

We’re at that point of the season where the league is more or less wrapping itself up. Chelsea have won the league, the bottom teams have confirmed relegation and Man City are realistically only one win away from guaranteeing the last Champions League place. You’d think I’d struggle to find something to write about...oh no…

Jose Mourinho came out the other day, saying this season will still be successful even if his Manchester United side don’t win the Europa League. Admittedly he did quickly follow this up by saying if he was in anyone else's position it might not be great but this is still by far one of the dumbest claims the Portuguese has ever come out with.

Some how Man United got through to the final after a headed winner from Fellaini...
By whose standards would this be a successful season for Manchester United? Jose Mourinho has won multiple Champions League trophies, won leagues in four different countries and has never finished below 3rd in a full season since his first full year managing Uniao De Leiria back in 2001/02. For him, finishing fifth and missing out on Champions League football is a dreadful season.

What about the Manchester United supporters? The Red Devils fans have been brought up competing in the Champions League as well as challenging for the Premier League every season. Admittedly they’ve hit a rough patch of late since Fergie retired. Last season they finished fifth and won the FA Cup and that was deemed a poor season. How can they now say, 12 months later, that finishing sixth and winning the EFL trophy is a successful season?

How about the owners, maybe they would think it’s successful? Well I don’t know about the Glazers but if I spent £157 million on three players (four if you included Ibrahimovic) and didn’t get a Champions League place next season...I’d be pretty pissed.

Bailly (£32 mil), Mkhitaryan (£35 mil), Pogba (£89 mil) and Zlatan (free) cost a
combined £157 million.
It wouldn’t be a bad season if you were someone like Burnley: not had European football since the 1960’s, Sean Dyche’s highest career point is winning promotion from the Championship and The Clarets have only spent around £38 million on six players...but this is England’s most successful club. Everyone involved with Manchester United should have higher standards than this.

The only way this can become a successful season is if Man U win the Europa League. This gets them a place in the play-off rounds of the Champions League which I have to say Mourinho and his team will have no trouble getting through.

Truth be told I’m beginning to think that Mourinho made up these contingency plans as soon as he was offered the United job. He knew what was required of him and decided to come up with backup plans as to how to achieve it or at least look good whilst attempting to do it.
Plan A: Finish in top four - he knows Champions League’s the aim so this would be his first plan.
Plan B: Win Europa League - If top four looks unlikely change attention to Europa League. Winning this will gain entry to the Champions League.
Plan C: Finish fifth - If all else fails Jose can at least finish fifth and start from the exact same point next season. Start plan over again.
I have to say I can’t really begrudge him for having backup’s...there are some managers in the league who haven’t even got a plan A let alone a plan B or C…*cough* Alan Pardew *cough* Pep Guardiola *cough*.

Jose has admitted himself that this has been the hardest of his career. You can really tell from his side's performances against the top six sides in the Premier League. He’s only managed to take 10 points from top six teams this season, 8 of which came at home. When you compare that to his first season back in the Premier League with Chelsea (2013/14) it makes for much grimmer reading as he managed to take 23 points against the top six teams (15 at home).

Some readers might be thinking “Mourinho’s record looks bad but I bet Van Gaal’s record was worse”. It’d be fair to assume that but also wrong as LVG managed 16 points from top six sides, winning 9 of those points at Old Trafford. That’s still not a great record but at least both managers were better than David Moyes who got a whopping 6 points…
~ Side note: Sir Alex Ferguson surprisingly only got 14 points against top six sides in his last season at the Theatre of Dreams. Make of that what you will ~

Mourinho’s target next season will surely be securing a Champions League position, to do that he’ll need to sign not just big names but also big players. I want to say he’ll struggle to sign these types of players without Champions League football but that’s clearly bullshit as he signed Zlatan and Pogba in the Summer with only the allure of the Europa League. And let's be honest, the Europa League is basically the ugly mate of the Champions League. No one’s first choice but you’ll have a go if there’s no other option.

Speaking of Zlatan, there’s been talk of him leaving in the Summer. If Mourinho wants to be able to reach the high standards set at United he’ll need goals. Now the Red Devils have struggled for goals this season, but not due to a lack of a goalscorer. I believe the reason they seem to struggle in front of goal is because they lack a player who can open teams up at ease.

These guys have scored 14 goals between them. Should they be doing more?
Emil Forsberg of Leipzig in the Bundesliga would be my first choice signing if I was Mourinho.With 18 assists and 8 goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances this season, Forsberg would be an ideal player for a Manchester United midfield that has struggled to threaten opposition goals this season. At 25 as well he’s still got a good number of years left in him.

For the love of God though don’t play Fellaini behind him. If you want the best out of your creative midfielders you need a class defensive midfielder to back him up. Now admittedly Ander Herrera has been impressive lately, working hard and breaking up play intelligently but I would still look to sign another holding midfielder.

For me Josuha Guilavogui (best of luck to commentators reading that name) would be a shrewd signing from Wolfsburg. He’s had a good season for Die Wolfe, making 2.7 tackles per game and a whopping 4.6 interceptions which is almost double the amount his countryman N’Golo Kante has made this season….

Possible targets Josuha Guilavogui (left) and Emil Forsberg (right).
Actually what am I saying? I don’t even like Man United. Mourinho should resign Fabio and play him up front with Fellaini. Play a 1-1-9 formation with one defender, one midfielder and no goalkeeper. These plans are sure to put a smile on Old Trafford faithful faces....and if it doesn’t it’ll definitely put a smile everyone else’s face.

Last point I want to make is that I may seem a little overly critical of Jose Mourinho at times, this is simply down to his arrogance. I hate how cocky he is but I’ll be honest, I can’t blame him. With a record like his you can understand his confidence. I may not like his tactics but I can’t argue with the results.

This picture doesn't even include the EFL Trophy he won this season. 
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Cheers for reading.

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