Tim Hofmeister is a senior at DeSales University, Follow him on twitter @DontHassel_Hof
From 1987-2013 Manchester United was a dominant force and won 13 Premier League titles, 10 Community Shields, 5 FA Cups, 2 Champions Leagues. Ferguson managed 1,500 matches and had a record of 895 wins, 338 draws, and 267 losses. However, since Ferguson moved on United has struggled. They have a combined 58 wins, 26 draws, and 30 losses with finishes at 7th, 4th, and 5th, respectively.
In the 4 seasons after Ferguson departed United has employed 3 managers: David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho as well as 1 player manager: Ryan Giggs. According to Luke Edwards of the Telegraph “After Giggs final match he admitted to breaking down in tears, in part due to the pressure of managing United, and also said he had struggled to sleep during the period.”
Managing United carries huge pressure and huge expectations because of the massive amount of success Ferguson achieved. Every candidate for manager or current manager is compared to the great Sir Alex Ferguson. The fans, the media and even ownership reflect the pressure and expectations. The Glazer family carries blame for their lack of patience, as they have a quick trigger with managers. Since they have little patience, managers do not have time to create a culture or get players that fit their style of play.
Current manager Mourinho has had success in his first season being the first United manager to win a major trophy in his debut season. He is also popular with the players especially Spanish speaking players’: David de Gea, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Sergio Romero, and Eric Bailly. However, Mourinho has had some issues especially with players Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger. According to the Manchester Evening News, Shaw and Mourinho had a heated exchange after he substituted him against Watford and publicly blamed the left-back for the home team’s second goal after the Reds’ 3-1 defeat. Schweinsteiger on the other hand was on the outs with Mourinho from the start. Schweinsteiger was sent down to the U23 team to train and made only one start for United. Current Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and retired Chelsea star Michael Ballack both were outspoken about Schweinsteiger mistreatment and called it “disrespectful” and believe the German star deserved better.
Mourinho commented on the scenario ““Bastian is in the category of players that I feel sorry for something that I did to him,” the United manager continued “I want to speak about him as a human being and that was the last thing I told him before he left, ‘I was not right with you once, I have to be right to you now.’ So, when he was asking me to let him leave, I had to say, ‘Yes, you can leave,’ because I did it once, I cannot do it twice. So I feel sorry for the first period with him. He knows that.”
Schweinsteiger responded, after a 1-0 defeat of the Columbus Crew, “He spoke to me, so it was nothing new for me, but it shows his character.”
Although the situation was not handled the best, the fact that Mourinho publicly apologized about the situation does show character as Schweinsteiger himself said.
Mourinho has not had the best season in terms of United standards but the most important man in United history has his back. Ferguson told SiriusXM FC “I get on well with Jose and think he’s doing a really good job. He’s been a bit unlucky actually because there are home games this season they’ve been absolutely brilliant in but have drawn them. If they’d got those wins they deserved they’d be challenging for the league, there’s no doubt about that.”
Ferguson continued on Mourinho’s success “Winning a trophy at United is the most important thing, that’s what the club’s history is about — winning trophies.” Sir Alex continued “I looked upon the League Cup as the manager [Mourinho] does: this is an important trophy. I was fortunate to win it four times. It doesn’t matter what the trophy is, if you get to a final you want to win it.”
Fans and the media cannot talk about United without comparing every lineup change, transfer, or strategy without comparing it to Ferguson during his time at the helm. Former player and manager Paul Mariner of ESPN FC talked about the “Manchester United Way” and he compared and contrasted the defensive strategy of Mourinho and Ferguson. However, this is part of the problem because no two coaches are alike and although fans, the media, and ownership want a carbon copy of Ferguson they most likely will never find one.
It is a new era in United history and although they want to repeat the past it should only be repeated in the amount of success not so much the same style of play. However, repeating the success does not just fall on Mourinho’s shoulders but falls on ownership as well. During Ferguson’s reign United featured stars such as: David Beckham, Cristiano Rinaldo, Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær to name a few. However, Mourinho has old players like Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and formally Schweinsteiger which would have been a great lineup 5 years ago. Even though Ibrahimovic is having an amazing season he cannot carry a team, especially in arguably the best football leagues in the world.
However, it is time to make for United to make a huge splash that they are known for. Names on the transfer rumor mill include stars such as Neymar, Alvaro Morata, Jordi Alba, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy are just some names out there that have been connected to United. Mourinho hopes to be given around 250 million for the transfer window but it may be smart of the Glazer family to give him more.
Obviously a player Neymar is going to command a ton but getting a player of his caliber at a young age would pay dividends and most likely make United the favorite in the EPL. This transfer window is the most important on Mourinho has been apart of because it will start the transition of a new era of United.
Until Mourinho wins consistently and gets back to the top of the table and in the Champions League the United fans and media will not be able to stop looking in past at what was. It is up to Mourinho, with help of ownership, to get United fans excited for the present and future, but that can only be done through a culture change and top notch players.