Following Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Manchester United manager, there is no doubt that the Portuguese boss is embarking on one of the toughest jobs in football.
Mourinho will be delighted to have returned to management and it seemed inevitable that he would be Louis Van Gaal’s predecessor at Old Trafford.
Mourinho will have to succeed in the areas which categorically failed for Van Gaal, but there is no doubt that a man of Mourinho’s stature and calibre is more than capable of rising to the challenge.
Football Ticket Pad has picked out six key areas that Mourinho will have to address in his early tenure at Old Trafford:
Change style of play: Ultimately Louis Van Gaal’s downfall was his rigid and negative methods that he adopted during his Manchester United tenure. Despite conceding the joint least number of goals this season (35) they also managed to score their least amount of goals in a domestic season since 1989-1990. Last season United had the highest average possession of any team, but they completed the most backward passes and went eleven consecutive home games without scoring a goal in the first half.
The Manchester United faithful regularly chant ‘Attack, Attack, Attack’ and that is exactly what they want to see at Old Trafford next season. Mourinho’s ‘Park the Bus’ mentality will surely be dropped and a more expansive, attacking method will need to be adopted.
Spend wisely in the summer: Louis Van Gaal splashed out over £250 million on signings during his time at United with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial arriving for hefty price tags and monumental wages. Mourinho will be able to attract some of the world’s best players to the club and if he can secure a big name marquee signing like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar or Cristiano Ronaldo, fans will soon be on his side and Manchester will be united once more. Mourinho will be backed in the trasfer market and will have money to spend. He just needs to make sure he does not make the same mistakes under Van Gaal. A striker, centre midfielder, right back and centre back will all be priorities for Mourinho.
Squad clear out: Last season Manchester United used 33 different players this season in the Premier League, only Liverpool used more (34). Mourinho will surely invest in new faces in order to build his own team which surely means a big clear out is needed. Memphis Depay has had an underwhelming season, Daley Blind may struggle to get as much game time as he did under Van Gaal, and United’s bit-part players: Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini will all be under pressure. The likes of Michael Carrick, Victor Valdes and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are all out of contract this summer and Juan Mata’s future looks bleak given his rocky history with Mourinho when at Chelsea, who sold him to Old Trafford in 2014.
David De Gea: Keeping the Spanish stopper at the club is an absolute imperative for Mourinho and United. Speculation about his future is sure to be publicised after another stellar season. De Gea was the club’s Player of the Year again this season and Real Madrid will surely test United’s resolve for the unsettled stopper who came close to leaving last summer.
Convince youngsters: One thing Louis Van Gaal did do well at United was give the youngsters a chance to shine. The Dutchman gave 14 debuts to academy graduates and has played a vital role in the rise of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. Mourinho will have to convince the younger players that their futures lie at Old Trafford, in the past Mourinho has developed a reputation of not giving his younger players the opportunity to get first team action.
Trophies: Ultimately, Mourinho will be judged on his results, which means trophies are a necessity. The United faithful are desperate to return to the top of the Premier League and knock their rivals Manchester City off their perch. Firstly, fans need to not get carried away and make sure Mourinho can return the club to the top four before asserting his assault on the Premier League title. It is unlikely that we will see Mourinho do a 27 year stint like Sir Alex Ferguson, but one thing that the Portuguese manager does guarantee wherever he goes is silverware.