It was the worst kept secret ever.
It was also no huge surprise, so the question was more ‘when’ than ‘if’.
Finally, Manchester United have announced Jose Mourinho as manager on a three year deal with an option to stay at the club until 2020.
Mourinho, 53, has managed at the top level of European football for over a decade and in that time has won league titles and cups in four countries (Portugal, England, Italy and Spain), as well as winning the UEFA Champions League twice – in 2004 with FC Porto and in 2010 with Inter Milan.
Announcing the appointment, Ed Woodward said: “Jose is quite simply the best manager in the game today. He has won trophies and inspired players in countries across Europe and, of course, he knows the Premier League very well, having won three titles here.”
So, at last, Mourinho gets what he really wants and that’s the United job – the job he really wanted when Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down.
The boardroom was split. Some of the more traditional United committee members were unimpressed by his methods, by his arrogance and the way that he has courted controversy, but the other half knew what kind of manager the giants of English football needed and there was only one man for the job.
However much you like or dislike the Portuguese manager, you cannot fail to be impressed with his record wherever he has been. The man is a winner and Manchester United, after a few years of mediocrity under David Moyes and LVG, have now got someone who will rejuvenate the club. He will motivate the players, give the whole place a lift and what’s more, although there won’t be any Champions League football at Old Trafford next season, Mourinho is a big enough enticement that the quality players that avoided United before will now want to come and play for the charismatic boss.
Nothing in this world is guaranteed, but two things are almost certain. He will give the so-called remaining top three or four a run for their money and Man Utd will be in the Champions League in 2017/18.
There are already detractors out there stating that Mourinho doesn’t play the United way, that he is quite defensive and that he doesn’t encourage the youth players.
If you look at his record, there can be no arguments over what he does and how he does it. He’s a winner. A short-term winner maybe, but still a man who knows how to bring success to a club that desperately needs it and Manchester United are desperate.
His Real Madrid side scored 121 goals, with a +89 goal difference over rivals Barcelona in the 2011/12 season, as Mourinho guided them to a record 32nd La Liga title. Not so defensive then, but on youth, Mourinho may have to yield, as quality kids are coming through and none greater than Marcus Rashford. If they are good enough, Mourinho will pick them.
Everything Mourinho does, will be in his way. Everything he does will be for the benefit of Jose Mourinho with the club piggy backing on the back of his ego.
There will be triumphs, there will be disagreements with officials, there will be controversy and there will Mourinho at the centre of it all.
The appointment is what Manchester United and the Premier League needed, it will interesting to watch his side and see whether the powers that be can make Jose tow the line a bit more. Sir Bobby Charlton once said, after another Mourinho publicity disaster, that “Manchester United managers just wouldn’t do that.”
What are United about to unleash?
The rivalry with neighbours City has just become more intense, as Pep Guardiola and Mourinho have a decade long dislike for each other. The Portuguese has talked in a veiled manner about Guardiola’s success, almost suggesting that he (Mourinho) has taken a harder route to success rather than the Spaniard’s easier, big-club route.
On his appointment as United boss, Mourinho said: “To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game. It is a club known and admired throughout the world. There is a mystique and a romance about it which no other club can match.”
“I have always felt an affinity with Old Trafford; it has hosted some important memories for me in my career and I have always enjoyed a rapport with the United fans. I’m looking forward to being their manager and enjoying their magnificent support in the coming years.”
Sit back and watch because this has just got all the more enthralling.