Thursday 22 February 2018

United need Jose to beat the average

Club staff walk past a mural depicting present and past players and former managers outside Old Trafford yesterday. GETTY
Club staff walk past a mural depicting present and past players and former managers outside Old Trafford yesterday. GETTY

Ger Gilroy

The longest courtship in recent football history is about to be consummated. It obviously felt a bit like the affair was being conducted while the existing marriage was still going but LVG's pay-off probably gives him comfort at night.

The truth of how the Mourinho deal was done and when and who was fully behind it, and who wanted to derail it and how they went about that, will be hard to discern from the spin emerging from all sides. Just wait to see how 'united' United were if this proves successful - then everyone will have always wanted him. If it fails then the club will be a conflagration.

The risk level is high but so too is the reward and the Glazers' father didn't get rich by sitting on his hands. Malcolm Glazer was the son of an immigrant watch-maker who ended up investing in fish proteins, motorcycles, old folks' homes, caravan parks, the media and sports teams.

Jose Mourinho represents a different management challenge for his sons than they'll have seen before. He also represents their best bet for short-term success.

It's true that United could have broken the bank for Mauricio Pochettino, or somehow convinced Diego Simeone to leave the perfect situation and risk his reputation by asking him to play a different style of football in a different country, but is anything anymore a guarantee of success? The end of the Chelsea story shows that the players didn't like Mourinho's methods eventually but they were grand when the team were winning.


It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that Mourinho had his eye on this job from last summer. Life is short and the United job won't always be so available. He wants and needs this to work. That'll change his outlook.

It's been much discussed too about how he's the wrong character to build an entire club around but really how many managers do you realistically find who you can build a club around anymore? What manager signs a deal and expect to be in the job for more than three years? Does Pep really count anymore? The Ferguson model or the Wenger model or if you're Atletico then the Simeone model were all in their own ways flukes.

There's no way Atleti could have guessed that Simeone would be the perfect human embodiment of the stylish underdog they needed. Arsenal found a spiritual leader ready to reinvent the boring, boring Arsenal of the 1980s.

Ferguson built an aggressive team ready to play to the end and unwilling to lose. He went to war when necessary, bullying the opposition, managers and referees. Is Mourinho not the perfect successor? Planning for short-term success while making sure the academy structures feed the first team are all you can ask for until you stumble on a generational leader.

Constantly seeking one is looking for the wrong thing; planning for a manager to last the managerial average is just good business. Malcolm would approve.

Irish Independent

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