Sunday 4 December 2016

Mark Hughes backs Jose Mourinho to turn Manchester United around

Published 01/10/2016 | 13:06

Stoke boss Mark Hughes doubts Manchester United yet have the same winning mindset as in his day at Old Trafford
Stoke boss Mark Hughes doubts Manchester United yet have the same winning mindset as in his day at Old Trafford

Mark Hughes sees Manchester United as a work in progress but expects Jose Mourinho to turn things around at Old Trafford.

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The Stoke boss heads back to his former stomping ground on Sunday looking to guide the Potters to their first Premier League win of the season.

He spent 13 years with United as a player across two spells, winning seven major trophies, and remembers well the fear factor that came with playing the Red Devils.

That has certainly slipped since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and Mourinho has already experienced one very difficult week that resulted in defeats by Manchester City, Watford and Feyenoord.

But since then United have claimed three successive victories, including an impressive 4-1 beating of champions Leicester last weekend.

Hughes said: "I played in a winning Manchester United side, a team that was challenging for titles year on year and that team, from personal experience, had the mindset that they expected to win every game.

"Whether or not this United side has that same mindset, I'm not sure. They have the potential to get to that point. Maybe they haven't displayed that as yet but you look at the talent that they have at their disposal and the amount of money they've spent this year to maybe address some of the failings of last year.

"They're having a go, they don't want to have a season like they had last year and you can see the intent in their play.

"The manager will have an impact for them clearly. It's maybe a little bit of a transition period that they're going through.

"It's taken longer than they probably had hoped but this year you sense there will be a marked improvement on where they have been."

Mourinho must decide whether to recall captain Wayne Rooney, who has started on the bench for the last two games against Leicester and Zorya Luhansk.

Rooney was heavily criticised for his previous performances, although Mourinho has been reluctant to cite form for his decision to leave out the striker.

"There always seems to be a debate about Wayne and where he's playing and his value to the team," said Hughes.

"Clearly he's a senior player, he's the captain, and his influence on the group is huge I would imagine. The key is levels of form I would think.

"Obviously on occasion some players will lose form and Wayne isn't immune to that but when he's at the top of the game then clearly his influence on the pitch is going to be great."

Mourinho must also decide whether to follow his predecessor Louis van Gaal and deploy Rooney in a deep midfield role or play him in his original position as a striker.

The 30-year-old has had very mixed reviews in a deeper role but Hughes believes he can adapt as his career heads into its later years, citing the example of another United great.

"Look at Ryan Giggs, who burst on the scene as a flying winger with unbelievable pace," said the Stoke boss.

"As he got older his role changed and the way he played changed. The key is that good players can do that and clearly Wayne's an outstanding player and he'll have the ability to change and still be an effective player for them."

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