Thursday 14 December 2017

Ronnie Whelan: Jose Mourinho's squad is maybe the worst I’ve seen at Old Trafford

Read Ronnie Whelan every week in The Herald

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on as his team warm up prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on May 21, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on as his team warm up prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on May 21, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Ronnie Whelan

Ronnie Whelan

Jose Mourinho always finds a way. When he dies, they should carve that on his tombstone and I think it’s a truth which will apply in the Europa League final.

I’m backing Manchester United to beat Ajax, a bright, fresh Dutch side who play Dutch style football and are a big, big threat. But I think the route he found to the final was costly to his reputation and damaging to his dressing room.

I see why he did it and I admire him for it in an odd way. By verbally and very publicly attacking his players and even the fans, he took upon himself rights he hasn’t earned and that could backfire spectacularly somewhere down the line.

His squad is maybe the worst I’ve seen at Old Trafford going back before the Ferguson era and yet he has a trophy in the bag and one more to fight for.

I’ve said before that Ferguson’s final title was arguably his best because of the poor selection of players he had to work with.

Massive pruning and investment is needed to bring the squad up to a decent standard and that begins and ends with qualification for the Champions League.

That’s why I’m inclined to agree with Mourinho’s assessment that this final is as big as any the club has ever played in.

Lose against Ajax and many of his carefully laid transfer plans will be up in the air. Of course it’s huge for him personally but it’s also a big moment in history for the club.

They’ve had three very nervous years since Fergie quit and the winning habit he had is gone, already fading into memory.

United played some awful football for most of the season and Mourinho, the ultimate pragmatist, made no apology for it.

That’s why you can expect to see Marouane Fellaini’s big hair a lot in the camera shot on Wednesday.

It will be Route One football but I won’t begrudge Mourinho his victory jig, if he has any energy left to dance one.

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Herald Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport