TPQ commenter and Man Utd supporter Daithi O’Donnabhain on Jose Mourinho’s appointment to Manchester United. (Honouring the new TPQ tradition of wearing a football jersey in their pic too!)

At the end of last season, I wrote an article arguing that Van Gaal shouldn’t be the manager of Manchester United, and many of the reservations I raised came to pass. Jose Mourinho has now been appointed his successor so its worth examining where the club are at, and what he can bring to the role.

What version of Mourinho are Manchester United getting? For all those that say he is a defensive minded coach who learned from Van Gaal, there are others who reference Madrid’s record points and goals tallies on the way to winning La Liga as a clue to what he will do. But at present, we simply don’t know what he will do with United. But the most consistent thread throughout his career is that he wins, and wins big, at every club he manages. At this stage in United’s history, this is what should take precedence above all other concerns.

The received wisdom is that Mourinho is so focussed on the immediate task of winning he will blaspheme the United way, and neglect the youth setup. This is probably false but also reflexively assumes that there is some talent there comparable to previous generations. But the many indicators are that United have serious issues in the quality and the set up of the youth academy. The under-18’s had a run of twelve straight defeats this season, the under-19’s went out of UEFA’s youth league in the group stages, our under-14’s lost 9-0 to Manchester City.

Manchester City’s set-up has overtaken United's by many measures, but perhaps most damningly is the amount of ex-United players that choose to send their sons to academy there, the likes Phil Neville, Robin Van Persie, Andy Cole and Darren Fletcher (there maybe others too).

United choose to do baffling things like halving the proposed number of specialist training pitches for the youngsters, to spend the allocated money on improving the first team car park. So lets not hear anymore damnation of Mourinho not caring about youth development. United increasingly don’t either, such that there will be no new youth team resources to draw from like Van Gaal and Moyes were able to. Players like Rashford and Fosu-Mensah, given first team debuts under Van Gaal, will probably be amongst the last group of youth players with the talent to make the step up for a few years at least, certainly the term of Jose’s contract.

There was a concern among some senior club officials that Mourinho may leave his own Satanic brand upon the Red Devils, and his reign would entail, at some stage, us being forced to stand behind a man whose repertoire includes besmirching UNICEF and gouging men’s eyes. It is this kind of behaviour that is said to have convinced club luminaries like Sir Bobby Charlton that he was unfit for the post, and that his view was a factor in Moyes being chosen to replace Sir Alex instead. Sir Bobby was not consulted this time around, his brand tarnished incrementally with every Moyes defeat.

Whilst respecting his playing legacy, I doubt many fans will mourn the erosion of his power base as Jose in parallel, builds his own. Many United fans who have sought his autograph at United matches (not just first team ones) will have found him incredibly put out to be asked for his time. A Manchester United manager probably doesn’t gouge opponents eyes, as Jose did to Barca’s Vilanova, but they have kicked boots into players faces requiring stitches and sued the club's owners causing a media storm that destabilised the club. And its fans continued to support players who assaulted people on (Keane) and off (Cantona) the pitch.

I doubt Mourinho will specifically do that again, but no doubt he will invite some controversy in the future because its a useful tactic to change newspapers narratives when his team aren’t playing well. This is something Ferguson did too. He was usually only headline material after a loss. When his team was winning he just offered platitudes as the results spoke for themselves.

United fans need not worry if their ambitions align with their managers in this instance. We know Mourinho is greedy for success too. But it's important for his relationship with the fans that he recognises an error in Moyes and Van Gaal trying to modify United fans expectations, claiming they were too high. This phrase or any permutation of words that mean the same thing, will be the death knell for any United manager whilst we are still fearful of ‘doing a Liverpool’ in the post-Ferguson era. We can laud tactical draws away against Barca in the semi final of the Champions League, but if draws against Newcastle and West Ham start getting praised then its a sign of creeping mediocrity.

Another common feature of the Moyes and Van Gaal reigns that Mourinho would do well to note is that they both tried to change the style of play at the club, whilst giving no indication that this would be as successful as what had gone before. The more deviant the change from waves of attacking football ideal(*), the more immediate success must be before United fans can accept the transition. This is where Ed Woodward needs to step in and communicate the roles requirements clearly and regularly, because the final common feature between Van Gaal and Moyes is they both seemed surprised (and betrayed) to be sacked, despite the entire country being aware they were not meeting minimal requirements. They could only have been under a different impression to the rest of us because of communication issues.

Its also been written that super agent Jorge Mendes is consolidating too much power at the club as he instructs both players and the manager now, but I think it has been tempered. When Mendes' client Falcao was left out of the United team repeatedly, Mendes was briefing the papers that Van Gaal couldn’t manage him properly. Mendes was also touting our only world class player (De Gea) to Madrid last summer. This type of thing will now have to stop, as it would only be undermining another client, Mourinho.

All in all, we can look forward to the new season with a sense of optimism and something closer to expectancy than hope. It will certainly not be the dull, wasted affair of the past two years under Van Gaal, either on or off the pitch. United finally have a manager of stature commensurate with the role, and someone intuitively theatrical in the theatre of dreams.

*Admittedly, Ferguson hadn’t honoured this tradition towards the end of his reign.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

17 comments to ''Mounited"

  1. Enjoyable and balanced read David. It rankles with me how Van Gaal was treated and even though I don't support Man U I was glad to see them win the Cup for his sake. He is a gentleman. I used to respect Mourinho but after his behaviour towards the Physio at Chelsea last season he went seriously down in my estimation. His appointment reeks of desperation and i genuinely hope he falls flat on his face, his arrogance is simply too much to be let pass and how he basically screwed Van Gaal over and poached his job is as breathtaking as it is despicable. Good piece regardless a chara.

  2. Same for me - the physio incident swung it. But a good piece nonetheless

  3. Thanks Sean + AM.
    I always saw the physio incident as symptomatic of problems with the squad, and as their season panned out he was right to be on edge. I would of mentioned this, but i focused on incidents that he was involved in around the the time Ferguson left and he could of taken over, as we know what the United board thought of these incidents. Any sympathy I might of had for Van Gaal was tempered by his treatment of players like Valdes and Januzaj (to a lesser degree).Its this type of personality Ferguson loved, players with the devil in them i think he said in his biography.Van Gaal banished them in humiliating ways. Its a trivial matter but he always wore such awful suits.He was awful with the media too,worse than Ferguson.There is alot of top managers in the league now though, should be an eye gouging/catching season.

  4. LVG squadered £250,000,000 and I don't recognise anyone he signed. Mourinho is a disgrace the way he stalked the job despite the pain LVG was suffering at the hands of the media. The physio episode at chelski was rotten and an attack on a defenceless woman as a deflection from him having lost the dressing room. I hope he spends another 25 million and that his career continues to flounder.

  5. Thanks Larry.
    I think that 100m a season will be the standard from now, United had neglected their squad for years under Ferguson, especially since 2009, when Barca had set the standard we needed to match, we instead decided on wringing ever last drop of energy from Scholes and Giggs. Im happy that Mourinho was so craven about getting the job, it shows he thinks he really effect some change there.United are used to having other sides hate their manager, no change there then!

  6. As a diehard Chelsea fan and admirer of Jose, I still have to say I am glad to see the back of him.

    The problem with Mourinho teams is that they are high defense minded in that he wants every player back when they don't have the ball. This sounds good but after a couple of seasons the players get knackered and sick of it, and rebellion starts.

    He also prefers players over 6 foot, so Mata will be given the arse shortly again too.

    United will probably win the league the season after next before the inevitable implosion.

  7. A great read.....the Physio incident at there is a story Our John Terry could relate...and as we are celebrating 400 years of the Bard, I doubt he could make anything better up for love and betrayal....not a UTD fan but I believe he will be great for the club....I like him and he adds spice to an otherwise bunch of old bores down the at the management club

  8. Steve, thats interesting, i took it that most Chelsea fans were upset that Jose got sacked, and underwhelmed with the Conte appointment.
    Thanks Niall, in this age of 24 hour rolling news cycles, a manager that gives good head(lines) is clickbaiting godsend. Van Gaal only made the news when he was drunk and speaking words with independent volumes from each other, totally embarassing. Whatever Jose does, it will never have as bad affect as the Magnier/Rock of Gibraltar affair. Its incredible to think back to that time, the manager suing the owners, and the owners revealing dirty secrets like Fergusons kick-backs from agents in his transfer dealings.

  9. Daithi,

    A lot of Chelsea fans were upset and blamed the team. But in reality Mourinho did himself no favours. There is a bit of a problem with cliques in the dressing room, especially the Brazilians, and as the old guard of Lampard, Cole, Terry et al were gone (or going) there was a distinct lack of fight noticed in some of those who remained. It showed and it p*ssed us all off.

    Jose tried to motivate them, but invariably as a clique is by nature insular he really had no chance. The final nail came when, and I think it was more frustration than anything else, he had a pop at Carneiro. She was an immensely popular figure with the entire squad and back room staff, and this was just the cover the clique needed to mount a revolt.

    The results plummeted and the unrest cost him his job. Most Chelsea fans saw it for what it was, but in the end it only matters what the score is at full time. As the results improved once our beloved Uncle Gus came back, the vitriol against the team mollified somewhat.

    But we are in limbo now. Conte has the Euro's to deal with and we don't really know what he is like, though from what I can gather he has zero tolerance for bullshit and lack of effort. This can only be a good thing.

    I did like the fact that after he was announced as the new manager he popped unexpectedly down to the training ground for a quiet word.

    "There will be no transition period as you are all professionals, there is only winning"

    Big talk, I hope he has the cajones behind it.

  10. Steve Ricardos

    Chelsea.... REALLY so you only took an interest in football in the last deade or so!!?

  11. Larry,

    Was wondering when you would bite lol

    Nope, I have lots of grey/white hair these days and been a diehard for about 40 years now!

    I remember what it was like to languish in the bottom divisions so I can hold my head up!

    Besides, we already had 2 UEFA cups, 1 UEFA CWC, a few FA cups and a couple of others along with having the likes of Guillit, Zola, Vialli, Weah playing for us BEFORE the KGB OIL money came in.

    Who's your team Larry?

  12. Stev Ricardos

    I think there's a bit of nihilism in me (think?? WTF?) But I was a wee united fanatic when young. Tommy Docherty era. Coppel and Hill on the wing. Loved those days. Cried when Southampton done them in the FA Cup and had supported them after Docherty took over and they were relegated to the old 2nd division. In more recent times under Ferguson and the prawn sanwich era I switched off. Must be the underdog DNA in me, but I can't be bothered with them these days. Always liked Celtic. I'm very much for the 'no racism' in football campaign, coz we don't do racism in Glasgow, we do sectarianism, and we do it exceptionally well!! Delighted to see the Rangers back. Do love the odd romantic weekend in Glasga. Tho Nottingham Forest were the team I used to go see funny enough in England before being brought home to Lebannon/Lurgan in April 1973. Missed the Clough era too. Deffo getting that hitman for my parents when I win the lotto.

  13. Larry,

    Used to go to Ibrox when i was a wean, found that the weegies were 90 minute bigots and then back to normality.

    Be great if we could keep the bitter incandescent hatred to a 90 minute orgasm once a week then be normal twats the rest of the time.

    Bloody english fucked it up for us! lol

  14. Steve Ricardos

    Met 5 Rangers men in Spain and had a 5 days blackout on the hooch with them. Never laughed as much in my life at the antics. We agreed the Old Firm is best atmosphere and 'you need someone to shout at' for those 90 minutes. Even with Rangers back now I don't think it is the same these days as it was in 70s 80s 90s. Steve Bruce just got a Brucie Bonus of 175 million for being promoted from the English Championship to the EPL. Celtic and Rangers need to think very seriously about going into the Championship and taking it from there.

  15. We are all Celts Larry, my best mate is a diehard sellik fan and I'd help him bury a body lol


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