At the end of last season when all the trophies were being counted this is how the table stood:
There is no doubt that Manchester United should be posing a more serious challenge for the title than they have managed in recent years. There is also no doubt, however, that José Mourinho, whilst realising the importance of a strong title challenge, also realises the importance of winning trophies and participating in the Champion’s League.
One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest regrets is that United didn’t win the Champion’s League more often and you can bet that, in private conversation, this has been stressed to Mourinho.
After all, they have won the title a record number of times so to miss out on it occasionally, providing a strong challenge is mounted, is only to be expected. To only have won the Champion’s League twice in the 26 years that Ferguson was manager is really quite a poor return when you consider everything else United managed to win.
Ferguson was also a losing finalist on two occasions but still, given that United competed in the tournament around 19 times whilst he was manager, the two wins are all that stand out from that competition. What makes it even harder to understand is the fact that Ferguson won 36 other trophies during his time as manager of United.
So, if nothing else, Mourinho has certainly bought himself time and, at the same time, converted a lot of the doubters who thought he wasn’t the right man for the job at Old Trafford.
Yes he has spent, and will spend, an absolute fortune in getting the team as he wants it to be. Can he be accused of trying to buy the title? No more so than any of the other top six managers!
The manager’s job at a top club nowadays is all about handling pressure. Forget the money they are paid, they are long past needing that as a motivation. If an example of the win or bust mentality of club owners is needed, one need only look at Southampton and the sacking of Claude Puel.
He finished eighth last season and got the club to their first major cup final in years. Here’s what Michael Butler of The Guardian had to say about his sacking:
“What has Claude Puel ever done for Southampton? Apart from the eighth-placed finish in the Premier League (a position that got Mauricio Pochettino a job at Tottenham after one season in charge), a trip to Wembley in the EFL Cup final against Manchester United (after beating Arsenal and Liverpool earlier in the competition), the wine, the willingness to speak English from the get-go, the patience and bravery to blood youngsters like Jack Stephens, Josh Sims, Sam McQueen, Harrison Reed, the coaching ability to bring the best out of more established professionals like Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Redmond, Maya Yoshida, the astuteness to make promising, relatively inexpensive signings like Manolo Gabbiadini, Sofiane Boufal, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg? But apart from that, what has former Southampton manager Claude Puel ever done for them?”
Southampton only have Everton above them who could be described as being ” in the same position” but the new money at Goodison is changing all that and it is unlikely that Southampton will be able to catch, in any shape or form, the seven clubs above them. So a new manager will be very hard pushed to even emulate the achievement of Puel, let alone better it!
Fortunately, Mourinho won’t get sacked in the near future and his willingness to commit to the job for the long term is good news for United. He can handle the pressure, he can buy the right players, he will take the club in the right direction and, what’s more, he can even have the team play attractive, attacking football when the situation, (or the fans), demands it.
Read more from Iain Anderson at WhySayAnything.com