Mourinho fired up to restore United to European elite
Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30
A hearse passed through the Old Trafford car park moments before Jose Mourinho's official introduction as Manchester United manager.
It was carrying a coffin, surrounded by red and white roses, and it seemed an appropriate metaphor for what followed Old Trafford's Europa Suite.
This was the day that United were burying the last three years, consigning them to history, and handing Mourinho the task of overseeing the club's resurrection.
The Portuguese was in town to bring life back to Manchester United.
It was strictly business as the 53-year-old entered the room, however. Six minutes earlier than the scheduled 11am start, Mourinho stepped onto the dais wearing a United training top carrying the initials 'JM.'
This wasn't a day for a suit, nor a soundbite to continue the thread from Special One through to Happy One.
If anything, Mourinho was the Impatient One - three signings already done, the thorny issue of Ryan Giggs dealt with and a tour of the club's facilities already undertaken weeks ago.
"The other two times (when unveiled by Chelsea), I was arriving at the country," Mourinho said. "This is a different one.
"I was sacked by Chelsea and then I stayed in the same country, the same competition with the same faces in front of me, so it is nothing new for me.
"It is just to arrive into a club which is difficult to describe, to find the right words to describe this club.
"I don't like denomination people use like dream job - it is not a dream job, it is reality as Manchester United manager.
"I think it is a job everyone wants and not many have a chance to have and I have it."
Nine questions and 30 minutes later, the question as to whether he wanted it, and could have had it, three years ago following Alex Ferguson's retirement, failed to materialise, left for another day.
But Mourinho was aware of the magnitude of his surroundings and the legacy he inherits.
The Europa Suite may offer an unfortunate reminder of the competition United must negotiate next season, with Louis van Gaal sacked after failing to qualify for the Champions League.
However, the photographs on the wall of European Cup triumphs in 1968, 1999 and 2008 forced Mourinho to address United's recent fall from grace.
"I know the legacy, the history of this club," he said. "I know what the fans expect from me and this challenge doesn't make me nervous because my history in the last 10 years or more was always to live with big clubs' expectation.
"I think it comes in the right moment of my career. I feel very prepared, very stable and with a great motivation.
"I am where I want to be in this club, in this country, but I feel frustrated I am not playing Champions League.
"I don't hide that I chase Sir Alex's record in the Champions League for matches as a manager (192) - I am around 130 matches.
"Hopefully it is only one season I am not there. When I say we, obviously the club is more important than myself, Manchester United is more important than myself and we have to make sure that, in July 2017, this club is where it has to be in the Champions League."
Mourinho's appointment has been well received by United supporters, with his winning track record a welcome return to the days of Ferguson and an end to the three years of night under David Moyes and Van Gaal - two managers ill-prepared for the demands of the Old Trafford stage.
But the truth is that Mourinho's past, his track record in terms of trophies and youth development, now counts for little more than the credibility it will guarantee in the dressing-room and among the supporters.
It will not last forever. Success going forward will be the only commodity Mourinho and United are interested in.
He has already spoken to Ferguson, with the Scot offered some valuable advice.
"Yes, bring the umbrella!" Mourinho joked. "Yesterday I couldn't believe it was raining in the training ground, so it was great advice.
"The second advice was to bring my typical bottle of wine. Now we are going to have many occasions to be together."
United and Ferguson have had enough of drowning their sorrows over the past three years, but Mourinho will only expect to drink in celebration. (© Independent News Service)