Louis van Gaal still finds himself employed at Manchester United, though the Dutchman appears to be teetering on the verge of all out mutiny. Club favourites such as Paul Scholes are tearing into the style of play deployed by the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach and fans ironically cheer when there is an effort on goal.
While key players, Wayne Rooney amongst others, have so far failed to shine, the blame ultimately rests at the feet of van Gaal. A whopping £250m spent has yielded an early exit from the Champions League, a dreadful style of play and dropping out of the top four.
Chelsea’s decision to sack Jose Mourinho in mid-December has cast a shadow over managers all over the world, though the Old Trafford post appears to be his most likely destination. While his arrival is never likely to yield another dynasty comparable to that of Sir Alex Ferguson’s, the Portuguese no doubt brings obvious qualities.
With that in mind here are FIVE reasons Manchester United NEED to land Jose Mourinho.
One of the major criticisms levelled at the 52-year old is the fact he never sticks around for much longer than three years. While that is certainly a fair point, as clubs the size of the Red Devils should obviously have some degree of long-term planning, it perhaps isn’t wholly necessary right now.
The succession of Sir Alex was handed so badly that perhaps Ed Woodward and company should switch their attentions to damage limitation, rather than looking to usher in a new era right away.
When Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge for the second time, he managed to guide the club into third place with a squad only a bit better than the one currently at Old Trafford. The league may currently be a step too far this season, but few would bet against him finishing in the top four.
After all, nothing van Gaal has done so far fills onlookers with universal confidence he is capable of outmanoeuvring the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp or Claudio Ranieri in the race to finish in the Champions League spots.
Another season out of Europe’s top competition would undo all of the work undertaken by van Gaal since his appointment, rendering his time at the club largely useless.
Mourinho may well the be ultimate ‘gun for hire’, but he would at the very least steady the ship while movers, shakers and decision makers at Old Trafford search for their next long-term man.
On the more technical side of things, the former Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager would sort out one of the longest running problems under van Gaal’s tutelage. While the style of play is often the most criticised aspect of the 64-year old’s reign, he does have a tendency to make some baffling decisions during games.
Those who support him may point to the fact key players such as Rooney really aren’t stepping up to the mark, and should share the blame, but van Gaal is solely responsible for his ineffective substitutions.
Too often he is not reactive enough, making strange choices such as hauling Juan Mata off for Nick Powell, or swapping Bastian Schweinsteiger for Michael Carrick against Newcastle when the game was crying out for a more attacking presence.
Games that could have been won, almost should have been won, have fallen by the wayside due to his poor in-game management.
Appointing Mourinho would usher in the complete opposite. The Portuguese is the master of in-game decisions, changing the course of the occasion with his tinkering. He can sniff out the strength of his opponents before the clash, and snuff them out accordingly.
Suggestions of first-team players becoming disillusioned with the way things are going at the Theatre of Dreams are rife, while some of the stars are truly looking bored. They are not enjoying their football, cutting downcast figures amid the toil of the post Sir Alex period.
Their current boss has clearly enjoyed success with the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, though he’s not truly renowned for his man management. The latter days of Mourinho at Chelsea may have revolved around problems with his stars, but he’s previously been praised for his ability to instil players with confidence.
Infamous Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic waxed poetic about their time together at the San Siro, revealing the two-time Champions League winning coach made him ‘feel like a lion’.
Despite the acrimonious departure from the Blues, he had also got what could turn out to be the last great season out of John Terry, who had returned to his best last year after a few seasons of relative mediocrity.
Captain Wayne Rooney is likely to be beneficial out of his arrival, instantly giving the Red Devils one of the best strikers in Europe when in top form.
Old Trafford was once a place to strike fear into the hearts of those who dared visit. Under Sir Alex, it almost seemed inevitable that the team would find some way to win, whether they were playing well or not.
Since then, we’ve seen teams like Southampton, Norwich and Newcastle United run out victorious at the Theatre of Dreams. No disrespect to those sides, but it’s a notion that wouldn’t have been entertained while the famous old Scot presided over proceedings.
While he was no doubt helped by being able to field some top class players, opponents would look intimidated by the mere occasion of playing at Old Trafford. Now, the fear factor appears to have evaporated almost all together from the stadium.
He may not be able to call on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, as Ferguson was, but Jose Mourinho would go some way into bringing back such an element of fear. The ‘us against the world’ aura he instils in his teams would at least create a buzz of defiance once more, stopping such losses and going some way into taking the Red Devils up the league.
As Ed Woodward desperately scrambles for a ‘Galactico’ signing to lay a marker down for his time at the club, it’s becoming obvious that truly elite players see their futures elsewhere. Gareth Bale has so far rejected all overtures, while Mourinho famously swooped to nab World Cup winner Pedro from United’s clutches while at Chelsea.
With Pep Guardiola all but set to move to Manchester City, their arch rivals are likely to be a hub for some of the best players in the world over the next few years. Perhaps even Lionel Messi. United can simply not afford to fall too far behind their city rivals in the embryonic stages of the Pep plan, or risk severe lasting damage.
The lure of playing for one of the greatest managers in the world, along with sharing in on the titles they are likely to win, naturally attracts top talent. Mourinho, his latter stages in charge of Chelsea notwithstanding, is in the same class as Guardiola, where van Gaal is perhaps a level or two below.
The Portuguese can give Woodward the big names he so craves, helping restore United as major players in world football on and off the field.