How the appointment of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United changed history

Manchester Evening News Sports 3 weeks ago

Was this the appointment that came three years too late?

On May 27th, 2016, Manchester United installed Jose Mourinho as their new manager, replacing the outgoing Louis van Gaal, who was sacked despite leading the club to FA Cup glory.

It was an appointment that was a long time coming, even discounting the fact that Mourinho had been in the running to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, only to be overlooked for David Moyes.

As the MEN reported in the spring of 2016, Mourinho had a gentleman's agreement in place with United to succeed Van Gaal and the Old Trafford club contacted the Portuguese's agent Jorge Mendes to sound out the former Chelsea manager's availability.

Mourinho had been sacked by the Stamford Bridge club midway through that 2015/16 season, on December 17th with the Blues in 16th place and much closer to the relegation zone than the top four, following a disastrous set of results and in the wake of the Eva Carneiro spat.

 

It was understood by the MEN that Mourinho's camp had touched base with United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward about the role.

And then, it was done, in the blink of an eye after three days of talks with Mendes. Van Gaal would later speak of his own grievances about finding out his job was gone moments after lifting the FA Cup, but the announcement from United came with an almighty endorsement from Woodward. After two misses, the United head honcho was convinced he'd got his man and pictures of the two smiling together at Carrington did the rounds.

Jose Mourinho is shown around Carrington by Ed Woodward

"José is quite simply the best manager in the game today," proclaimed Woodward in a press release.

"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.

"I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome him to Manchester United. His track record of success is ideal to take the club forward."

Mourinho, although unsmiling at his Old Trafford unveiling, had got the job he'd coveted for some time. Regular Mourinho No.2 Rui Faria also came on board.

"To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game," were Mourinho's own words.

"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."

Mourinho promised to forget the recent past — a nod to the troubles both he and United had suffered. But the club were getting the 2014/15 Premier League winner, a two-time European champion and someone they believed could guarantee trophies.

"I prefer to forget the past three years and focus on the giant club I have in my hands," added Mourinho.

"I want to win. What the players need to do is listen. I want to focus on the history of this giant club. I will give everything to go in the direction we all want."

 

A three-year contract was signed and sealed and it was widely believed that United would give Mourinho money to spend, with £200million the reported figure.

Spend they duly did, as Woodward's policy of bringing in well-known and marketable names continued, despite the failure of players like Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. In came Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Of course the Mourinho years did bring trophies to Old Trafford, though maybe not the ones that supporters and Woodward had craved, though the 2017 Europa League victory 'completed the set' for the club.

Mourinho's position eventually became untenable as his popularity declined and his press conferences became ever more erratic. Mid-December again brought a sacking, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought in as a replacement.

As could have been expected, Mourinho's reign was never dull — and his recent appointment at Tottenham is likely to bring similar fireworks — but United fans couldn't shake the feeling that it came three years too late.


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