Last year in May when Jose Mourinho was appointed the manager of Manchester United, a vast majority of the fans were not happy with the news. Jose never came alone to a club; he brought with him a towering ego and a sense of arrogance which very few managers in the world possess. He brought with him a larger than club personality, which had always worked for him, but the same is not necessarily true about the clubs which he managed.
“He [Mourinho] has changed. It is a different environment, it is a different club and squad. ” – Juan Mata on Jose Mourinho
A lot of drama was expected once he took charge of affairs at the Old Trafford, the most likely one being the air of uncertainty surrounding Juan Mata’s career at Manchester United. Fast forward by a few months and Juan Mata is one of the key members of Jose’s United, also the joint second highest goal scorer for the club. This was probably the most unexpected turn of events which even the staunch supporters of Jose didn’t expect.
So what changed when he came to United? How has United benefitted from this change?
The first sign of change was how Mourinho reacted to the 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. All his self pride and arrogance went down the drain at Stamford Bridge, with him rushing down the tunnel, irritated and disgusted. The next home game at United, he apologized to the fans by joining his hands at the Stretford End for the humiliating defeat in the hands of his former club. There, in that moment, Mourinho won over millions of fans by his sheer humility. This show of acceptance of defeat was one of the most remarkable moments in Jose’s career.
Mourinho’s respect for United’s legacy is also quite a unique exception, given his record in the past. Ferguson was a huge fan of Sir Alex Ferguson and always wanted to manage the club someday. Recently, Mourinho again made it clear that he is here to embrace the history and the legends of the club. He invited Sir Ferguson for lunch at the Carrington so that he could reunite with his old working staff. He also said in an interview recently, “Ferguson is always welcome in the team bus. He can choose his own seat and if he chooses a seat where I sit, I will move. ” These little things show that Mourinho has understood what the United fans want; respect for every little thing that makes up our history.
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Another significant and noticeable change in Mourinho’s present tenure is the game play of the team
It took time for the newly assembled individuals to gel, but slowly and steadily United started playing the attacking brand of football they were always known for. The team had gotten used to directionless sideways mode of football under Van Gaal, which could never appease the United fans. Under Mourinho, the number of passes is lesser and most of them are in forward direction. Due to the likes of Herrera, Mata, Pogba, Carrick in the midfield, Man Utd have put on very impressive creative displays, often failing to win matches due to just extremely poor luck. Mourinho who has always been infamous for his approach to the game, has changed it in United. He has stopped the park the bus approach now that the team has been doing well. Unbeaten in 16 games now, things look bright for the new attacking Mourinho’s United.
Barring the situation with Schweinsteiger, Mourinho has improved his interpersonal skills with the players, which was not always the case with the past clubs. Fellaini has come under heavy criticism for his recent displays, two of which cost United a late goal and a draw they didn’t deserve. Mourinho stood by the midfielder, supporting his inclusion in the team every game. He criticized the fans for booing Fellaini when they played at home against Tottenham. Manager’s support seemed to have worked for Fellaini for he has put in two impressive performances in his last two games. He scored in one and played a key role in his team’s equalizer for the other. Mkhitaryan is another such player who admitted that it was because of Mourinho’s influence that he could manage to adapt to the League and improve his game. He blamed himself for his delayed entry into the starting XI and thanked Mourinho for working with him closely. In all the departments, Mourinho indeed has taken measures to tone down on his chutzpah and selfdom. With a lot to prove to the world after being sacked at Chelsea, it seems that Jose has realized that Manchester United is one club with which he can answer back to the entire world. He seems like a man who is here to stay, and is willing to adjust as much as required to make sure he does.
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