Manchester United finished in 5th place last year and that wasn’t enough for Louis Van Gaal to keep his job. This means that Mourinho will know right from the start that anything less than a Top 4 finish will get him sacked as well, especially after it was revealed that Adidas will withdraw from their partnership with United if the Manchester based club is out of the Champions League for 2 consecutive years.
That is probably the main reason why United have already started splurging money on new signings, and why Mourinho is acting like he is playing real money pokies games, investing money on players like Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and hoping for a huge jackpot at the end of the season.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise especially as United are in dire need of repairs and fixes all through their squad. They have a world class goalkeeper, but other than that they seem to be lacking quality in many departments when compared to their main title rivals.
They need one world class central defender to partner Smalling in the back four, they need a top quality right back to mirror Luke Shaw on the left, a couple of pacy wingers, and a striker to take the burden of the shoulders of Martial.
On top of this, all their midfielders (with the exception of Schneiderlin) are either one dimensional like Herrera and Fellaini or too old like Carrick and Schweinsteiger. Rooney will probably remain in midfield under Mourinho as well, but it is still questionable whether the captain has got the legs for the big league.
So what will Mourinho do in this situation? The first thing that he always does in all new clubs he is appointed is buy new players who are already final products and don’t need further developing. Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan fit in this picture perfectly and the rumoured transfer bids for Witsel, Pogba, Draxler, Manolas, Ramsey, and a host of other players are along the same lines. And with a budget thought to be somewhere around £150-200 million Mourinho can also afford to go after players such as these.
The next thing the Portuguese is likely to do is to build a siege mentality inside Manchester United. He will constantly beat up the drum of ‘us against the world’ and will make up stories of referees, football associations and officials having an agenda against the Red Devils. This will likely bring them results in the first couple of seasons and might even be the main reason for United winning their first EPL title since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, Mourinho must be careful not to make the same mistake that he made in Madrid and in Chelsea when he started wars of words with Real Madrid’s legend Iker Casillas and Chelsea’s beloved physio Eva Carneiro, which both, at least partially, led to his downfall.
Another thing that Mourinho will likely do is choose his starting eleven, and use them as much as possible throughout the season, without using too much rotation. This will benefit the team in the way that it will create a strong core of players, but it will also hamper the chances of the club keeping players who are left out of the starting line-up.
Mourinho famously sold Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, and Andre Schurle, who are some of the best players in Europe at the moment, simply because he wasn’t able to give them more chances in Chelsea’s first team squad and couldn’t find a way to keep them happy on the bench. He may be an excellent man manager, but his downside is that it seems like he sometimes jumps to conclusions to quickly when judging the ability of the players at his disposal.
Related to this, is the fact that Mourinho has so far failed to take an academy product and take him to a status of a first team regular in all of the clubs he had managed. Manchester United have some really talented youngsters like Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Tyler Blackett, and even the established Anthony Martial, who probably started dreading for their futures after hearing that the Portuguese was appointed as their manager. Less talented young players such as Paddy McNair and Guillermo Varela might as well pack their bags and leave the club even before the season has started, that’s how slim their chances of starting under Mourinho are.
In terms of playing style, Manchester United fans shouldn’t be getting their hopes too high thinking that their club will suddenly start performing much better than when they were under the guidance of Van Gaal. The Portuguese is known for the love of tactical discipline and even though his new look Manchester United side is not likely to participate in 5-2 thrillers, they now have zero to no chance of being part of humiliating 1-6 defeats.
All in all, if Mourinho keeps to his principles, and if the past is anything to go by, then it is likely that Manchester United will win the EPL title if not next year, then in Mourinho’s second season in charge. But should Jose repeat the same mistakes he made in Real and Chelsea in his ‘cursed’ third season right at the start of his appointment, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he is one of the first managers to lose his job next season.