Yesterday Manchester United confirmed the exit of Louis van Gaal on their website and today we expect the arrival of José Mourinho if international media are to be believed.
None of this is news as the rumours and suggestions have been filling up all internet feeds since before Christmas to the point where the length of the saga made it more unlikely than the surprise of the initial leak.
Cons under LVG
1. The style of play
It could be that Louis wasn’t able to get the full support of the fans with his possession based style which only managed 49 goals, the lowest in a Premier League season for United. The number of goals were down to the fact that United created less chances than almost anyone else in the league proving that what you do with the ball is far more important than having it.
2. Failure to reach Champions League
Without a doubt, the sponsorship deals with Chevrolet and adidas are more lucrative for the club, and the owners, if United secure a Champions League spot and it was most likely mandated in LVG’s contract that he must bring them consistent top 4 finishes during his tenure.
3. Losses to non-traditional rivals
It’s hard enough to stomach a loss to a title rival like Arsenal, Chelsea or even the miserable scousers but losing to the likes of Norwich or Bournemouth is unacceptable.
The Pros under LVG
1. Record against the top 6 clubs
Louis achieved an admirable points haul against all the big clubs of English football, easily better than all the managers of City, Chelsea, Spurs etc. It’s almost as if he thought those are the only games you need to plan for and the rest would be a walk-over.
2. Academy players
LVG gave full team debuts to 14 academy players during his 2 seasons, a tradition United is very proud of. Injuries and a small squad may have contributed but the youngsters got game time and some like Rashford and Lindgard might be considered regulars now.
3. FA Cup
For all the frustration we experienced in the Champions League, the Europa League and the Premier League, LVG did manage to win sivlerware in the FA Cup. It’s been a good few years since United have made the final and in barren times any silverware will do, just ask Manchester City.
Things could’ve been different
The difference between keeping LVG and signing Mourinho could be a cold night in Stoke, or Norwich or any other match where we should have picked up a point but got none which would have put us in 4th place just above City.
The record equaling 12th FA Cup is nice for the fans but in the end means little for the club financially and doesn’t attract any big name players either. The name of the game these days is Champions League and failure to secure a spot is always going to be costly for teams who consider themselves to be big clubs. Can you imagine if Liverpool had secured a spot and United were playing Thursday nights in the Ukraine somewhere?
Enter José .
José Mourinho is an interesting coach. Successful in every country with league titles in Spain, Italy, Portugal and of course England as well as a Europa League win and two Champions League titles. He has also won numerous cups and managerial awards in his career and is widely considered to be one of the best ever.
If there is a concern it’s always that he leaves in a storm but the success follows him and in the last two decades we’ve become accustomed to success. We’ve survived the mercurial son’s (Ryan Giggs) indiscretions with his brother’s wife and we’ll survive the worst that José can bring but we crave the success and the headlines he will bring.
What should we expect?
One of the most widely accepted thoughts is that the top players want to play for José and his link to the superagent Mendes certainly doesn’t get in the way of signing some super talent. The playing style might change a little to a more consistent formation but above all José won’t be inseparable from his clipboard. He will be on the touchline, or at the very least testing the boundaries of the technical area when things are not to his liking. He will bring passion to the game. He will ignite the fans. He will be entertaining on the field and in the press conferences.