Saturday 24 August 2019

Man United delighted with 'box office attraction' as Mourinho set for extended deal

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho Picture: PA
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho Picture: PA

Luke Edwards

Manchester United are already hoping Jose Mourinho remains as manager beyond the end of his three-year contract as they are delighted with the impact he has made at Old Trafford.

United have not looked good enough to win the title in Mourinho's first season and it has, in the main, been a stuttering start for the Portuguese.

Yet the United hierarchy have been impressed with the way he has taken on the challenge, his enthusiasm and his positive personality behind the scenes.

A run of three successive league wins has also pushed the team back into Champions League qualification contention.

Although there is no need for new contract talks to begin, given that they already have an option to extend his deal until 2020 - which the club could well activate at the end of this season - there is a feeling in the boardroom that United have finally found someone to fill, rather than merely step into, Alex Ferguson's gigantic shoes.

Admiration

With the team's style of football also earning admiration, following the blandness of his predecessors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, there is a strong desire for him to oversee a long-term project that extends beyond his current deal.

Although United are 13 points behind leaders Chelsea - a gap which already looks unbridgeable - and are outside of the Champions League places, Mourinho has earned the respect of both chief executive Ed Woodward and owners the Glazer family.

Even during a poor run of form in October and November, when the team won just one of eight league games, United were thinking beyond the end of the season and their planning has been made with the view that Mourinho will be the manager who leads the team rebuilding.

United have spent around £500m on players since Ferguson retired three years ago, with largely disappointing results.

But while they do not intend to buy in the January transfer window unless one of their long-term targets becomes available, Woodward is convinced they have built up the financial muscle to overpower their rivals in the next few years.

United have won just one trophy, the FA Cup last season, since Ferguson retired, but it is not just Mourinho's track record in winning silverware that appeals to them.

Woodward is desperate to give a manager the time and platform to build something special at Old Trafford and he is confident Mourinho is the man to finally live up to the expectations created during Ferguson's trophy-laden reign.

There had been some suggestion that Portuguese had angered the United board with his volatile touchline antics, but rather than embarrass them, the club feel he has brought a 'box-office' attraction.

Mourinho has clashed several times with match officials this season and has been hit with two touchline bans as a result, but it is his passion and desire that made him attractive to United when they were searching for someone to galvanise the club.

Mourinho will turn 54 next month, but there is no sense at United that he has lost any of his energy and club insiders insist he has brought smiles and laughter back to the training ground after it had become a stale environment under Moyes and Van Gaal.

In turn, Mourinho's decision to continue living in the Lowry Hotel, rather than move into a flat or a house, is also not a concern.

The former Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager has failed to put down strong roots anywhere other than London, and has generally been perceived as a manager who is defined by short-term success.

But while his family remain in London, United believe Mourinho is happy living in Manchester and do not see his decision to stay in a hotel as a sign he is reluctant to commit to them.

Although Mourinho joked in a press conference that his move to Manchester had been a "bit of a disaster" because he had not found anywhere to live, sources close to him have since stressed that he likes living in the Lowry, as he is within walking distance of the city centre and is close to his staff, who are living in apartments close by.

Meanwhile, West Ham's desperate hunt to find a striker capable of firing the club up the table will lead them to make an ambitious inquiry to take either Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial on loan, but Mourinho seems certain to say no. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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