The self-styled “Special One” is recognized as one of the top managers in the soccer world. Wherever he goes, championships follow. Despite this, he never stays too long in one place, for as much as success follows him, so does controversy. I am talking, of course, about the one and only José Mourinho, who is both equally loved and hated, and who was just unveiled as the newest manager of Manchester United.
It is a move that comes as a surprise to no one. Ever since Mourinho was let go by Chelsea — following a disastrous start to the season and a scandal involving a team doctor — speculation has been rampant as to where Mourinho would go next. Mourinho himself has made no secret of the fact that he has always been a great admirer of Manchester United. Ever since December, the soccer world has been waiting for the inevitable arrival of the Special One at United.
When it was finally announced towards the end of May, I could not help but feel a little sorry for former Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal, the man being replaced by Mourinho. Van Gaal always seemed to struggle to live up to the fans’ expectations, and his squad was often boring to watch. With the availability of a manager like Mourinho on the market, it was inevitable that Van Gaal would be pushed out.
I would imagine that most Manchester United supporters are delighted with this turn of events. Mourinho may be many things, but boring is certainly not an adjective that would ever be used to describe him. He will surely reinvent Manchester United to fit his image, even if it means going against tradition.
This first summer under Mourinho will bring a swirl of changes to the storied club. We can all expect a great offloading of players who do not live up to the Mourinho standard. It would not be surprising if Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are shown out the door, as these players are continually underwhelming and plagued with injuries. Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Ashley Young could also be among those to leave this summer.
There have been rumors that midfielder Michael Carrick has been offered a new deal under Mourinho, which is somewhat surprising considering that he will be 35 before the start of the season. It could be the case that Mourinho needs a seasoned veteran to showcase leadership in the team, in which case it makes perfect sense to keep Carrick around.
I am most intrigued by what Mourinho will do with midfielder Juan Mata and assistant manager Ryan Giggs. Mata is one of Manchester United’s most popular players, with both his teammates and with the fans. Why the intrigue, you ask? Mata was a popular player on Chelsea, but that did not stop Mourinho from selling him to Manchester back in 2014.
Mourinho was of the opinion that Mata did not fit his mold, because he was not quick enough and did not help Chelsea out defensively. Needless to say, it appears that Mourinho and Mata do not get along, and things do not look good for the well-liked Spaniard.
As to the second matter, Giggs has been a part of Manchester United in some capacity for the last 29 years. Upon his retirement as a player, Giggs was appointed assistant manager under Van Gaal, and many thought that he was being groomed to take over as manager. Why would Giggs leave his boyhood club then? Giggs has made no secret of the fact that he is very displeased with the way that Van Gaal was fired.
This disagreement, coupled with the fact that Mourinho always appoints his close associate Rui Faria as his assistant manager, could very well indicate that Giggs is set to leave his longtime team.
From a managing perspective, this could actually end up being a good thing for Giggs in the long run. If Giggs is going to end up taking over an immensely successful club like Manchester United, it would be better for him to manage smaller teams first to gain experience. There is no shortage of teams that are in need of a manager, including Watford and Reading. It would be best for Giggs to leave now before his relationship with United becomes damaged.
All in all, I think Mourinho’s move to United will end up being a good thing for the team. A proven winner, he will lead United back to glory before ultimately becoming involved in a scandal and leaving. Is this what I would want for my team? Probably not, but sometimes success is valued more than building a team. Whatever Mourinho ends up doing with Manchester United, it surely will be exciting to watch.
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