How Jose Mourinho has transformed Manchester United


Perhaps not the best time to write this post after how the odds of Manchester United finishing in top 4 tumbled after their 1-1 draw vs Bournemouth last night, however, despite the draw, United’s season has been a sign of improvement from their time under Louis Van Gaal.

Manchester United is a club of massive stature in terms of rich history and global reach. Since the retirement of the most successful and decorated manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the club has gone through a rough phase of 3 years winning only the FA Cup.

Any manager succeeding Sir Alex would find it difficult to replicate the triumphs and the brand of football which enthralls the fans. The ‘Chosen One’ David Moyes couldn’t live up to the meteoric expectations given he inherited a title winning squad.

The two years under Louis Van Gaal has had its ebbs and flows with the club winning the best domestic tournament the FA Cup although the tactics of possession based football was unappealing to the large group of fans and failure to qualify for Champions League cost him his job.

Jose Mourinho, the manager who has conquered Europe with his tactical nuance, was chosen as the man who brings back the glory days to Old Trafford. Right from the first press conference, he has been speaking about winning trophies and playing a certain brand of football which fans often refer to as the “United way of football”.

The ‘Special One’s appointment has attracted the best talents across Europe in spite of United missing out on Champions League.  He identified four areas where United lack in quality and brought in Eric Bailly, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. These signings created optimism and belief among fans that the Red devils can conquer Europe again.

The most important change that is evident in the current United team is the passion and 100% commitment which was seen lacking sometimes over the last 2-3 years. Also, Mourinho has made United play forward transition attacking football which was a switch from possession based football.

United have switched back to a zonal marking system from a man to man marking system which is another big change.  Mourinho has carved out a system where the team can play attacking football as well as drop deep when the opposition has football.

Another change which is visible is the occasional long ball to the target man Zlatan who is more than capable of holding up the ball bringing the playmakers around him into play. The rapport between Pogba and Ibrahimovic is refreshing to watch and both of them have carved out moments of brilliance.

Press and media have always been after Mourinho case making an error, specially when he initialy decided to bench his summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan. However, Mourinho chose the right game to reintroduce him into the lineup and Mkhitaryan has lived up to the expectations by producing  a string of world class performances against.

Many pundits wrote off Zlatan after his poor conversion rate at the start of the season. Mourinho, however, kept faith in the Swedish stalwart and it paid off with him scoring 26 goals this season, including in the League Cup final vs Southampton.

The Jose Mourinho era has well kicked in and United are heading in the right direction. Jose still has a lot to do in terms of mental toughness and doggedness to see out a one goal lead which is reminiscent of his teams in the past. The refreshing aspect of the current team is the fans approve of the brand of football and hopefully, this team can conquer Europe in the near future.