How to solve a problem like Manchester United? Eighth in the league, negative goal difference, eighteen points behind City, and Chris Smalling walking round with the captain’s armband… It doesn’t get much worse than that does it?
Or does it? What if United haven’t hit rock bottom just yet? What if there are more painful falls to come? More Phil Jones pink boots horror shows? More Brightons? It doesn’t bare thinking about. Solutions are what United need and solutions are what they must find.
Amongst Manchester United fans the two most popular options when discussing how to improve United’s situation are to back Mourinho or sack him. Which in theory means, give Mourinho a load more money to sign players, or move him on and bring someone new in. But which is the right one?
There’s no denying Mourinho has been a successful chequebook manager – with a strong emphasis on “has been”. “Mourinho plus cash equals titles” was a footballing equation that was set in stone for over a decade.
But that stone has eroded to sand at a fierce pace. United have given Jose close to four hundred million and what do they have to show for it? A dabbing Frenchmen, a Belgian weightlifter and a fifty million Brazilian back-up for the club mascot.
The harsh truth is Mourinho no longer has that special something on the pitch or in the transfer market, so how is giving him more money the answer? Yes, Jose has been consistent in his public protestations that he hasn’t had the backing he should have had.
But like a bag of carrots in a fast food restaurant, is anyone really buying it?
Mourinho’s been given enough components to build a sports car fast enough to compete in any race. It’s not the club’s fault if he’s stuck with a clapped-out banger.
Do Manchester United even need to spend money? The current set of players is certainly underperforming, but is a side of De Gea, Dalot, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, Herrera, Fred, Pogba, Martial, Lingard, Rashford, really that terrible? No it’s not. Set up in the right way it’s exciting, youthful and capable of beating any side in Europe.
And that’s not to mention the bench, which would have players of the quality of Mata, Pereira, Lukaku, Rojo, Matic and Valencia.
The fact is United already have a good enough squad to challenge for the title, or at least be comfortably in the top four. They just don’t have a manager capable of putting the best side out. And if it’s a choice between spending money or letting Mourinho go then the logical solution has to be remove manager from the equation.
If Mourinho stays as expected, there will be some wins. Fulham at the weekend looks like a perfect example of that. But ultimately United have become like the kid who gets the best bike for Christmas but never removes the stabilisers.
There’s no long term progression.
The Mourinho Manchester United marriage should have been spectacular. One of the world’s best manager’s fallen on hard times joining with one of the world’s biggest club’s in turmoil. Together they were meant to make each other great. Instead they’ve let their past ruin any future they could have had.
Like a couple who argue over watching X Factor or Strictly, neither is willing to compromise or adapt.
Mourinho is the man who won trophies pragmatically, United did it the Delboy way – he who dares wins!
Mourinho is one of the greatest manager’s to grace English football. But greatness isn’t indefinite. Not many get to walk out on top like Sir Alex, just ask Arsene Wenger. Most fade away.
Mourinho’s star status is fading fast and United would do well to put their wallet away.