Jose Mourinho has established himself as one of the shrewdest managers in world football with his pragmatic style and his insatiable appetite for winning.
Since his arrival at Old Trafford in the summer of 2016, Jose Mourinho has adhered himself to the Old Trafford by picking up two trophies and bringing Champions League football back to Salford.
During his spells at Inter Milan, Porto, Real Madrid and Chelsea, the Portuguese maestro’s success has always been built from the back with a solid defence being backed up by a world-class goalkeeper – giving his forward players the freedom to pressurise the opposition whilst maintaining their shape defensively.
And at United, he had everything he needed.
David de Gea is one of the world’s leading goalkeepers, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are converted wingers who don’t possess the trickery to upset opponents but are long enough in the tooth to adapt to play at full back whilst Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly have all the hallmarks needed to be solid Premier League defenders and Daley Blind, Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian provide more than adequate back up.
In addition, ‘The Special One’ generally looks to a central, lone striker to lead the line and bully defences (think Drogba, Costa and Milito) and at the Theatre Of Dreams he was seemingly able to implement his philosophy with ease last term.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had worked with Mourinho previously and fitted the bill with ease at Old Trafford. The enigmatic Swede took to life in English football with consummate ease and was integral to their multiple successes last term – scoring 28 goals in all competitions – at the grand old age of 35.
The summer of 2017 promised to be an intriguing one for United with media speculation rife and the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Gareth Bale and even Cristiano Ronaldo being heavily linked with joining the Red Devils. All three of the aforementioned stayed put, but Mourinho’s subsequent acquisitions looked particularly shrewd and look to have added a new dimension to the reds.
Nemanja Matic has provided midfield stability and Premier League knowhow following his move from Chelsea, Victor Lindelof still looks to be finding his feet with the Europa League winners but is a welcome addition to a strong defensive line-up whilst the headline signing was Romelu Lukaku from North-West rivals Everton. United parted with nearly £90 million for the Belgian’s services and he looks to be well on the way to repaying them already with 10 goals in 9 games, in all competitions.
United’s start to the season has only been matched by cross-city rivals Manchester City who too, look to have a manager in Pep Guardiola who has imparted his knowledge on his team over the summer months and it promises to be a huge battle for the Premier League crown.
A crucial factor to United’s success though, could well be Jose Mourinho’s willingness to release the shackles and let his charges attack their opponents, regardless of opposition – replicating the style of United legend Sir Alex Ferguson, who brought unrivalled success to the red side of Manchester and created ‘The United Way’ of playing.
Ferguson’s blueprint was similar to Mourinho’s – in that defence was king – but the Scot allowed his wingers (Giggs, Beckham, Ronaldo etc) to play with more freedom, run at defences and create scoring opportunities for central strikers – such as Rooney, Van Nistelrooy, Yorke, Cole etc – which propelled him to legendary status at Old Trafford – leading United to countless trophies.
Jose Mourinho looks to have assembled the perfect players to implement that ‘United Way’ this term and we analyse the men who could clinch the title for the reds:-
Anthony Martial – At the age of 21, Anthony Martial is one of the most exciting prospects in European football. Now in his third season at United, the Frenchmen looks set to become a key element of United’s success following two campaigns as a bit-part player under Louis Van Gaal (in his debut season) and Mourinho last term. His eagerness to run at defences coupled with his electrifying pace make him a real handful and Mourinho looks to be getting the best out of him currently.
Marcus Rashford – 19 year-old Marcus Rashford is a product of the Manchester United youth academy and is English football’s brightest star currently. Much like Martial, he is blessed with pace and trickery that strike fear into opposition back fours and his cool, calm nature in-front of goal belies his youthfulness. Preservation will be key for Mourinho with Rashford, who clearly still has a lot to learn but looks more than capable of learning on the job in a Manchester United shirt.
Romelu Lukaku – It’s hard to believe Romelu Lukaku is only 24 years of age such is his status in world football. The 6 foot 3 Belgian is one of the most talismanic strikers in English football and his arrival at Old Trafford looks to have taken his game to a whole new level. While question marks will be raised about his all-round game, Lukaku is proving invaluable to United already this term and is clearly enjoying receiving increased levels of service since leaving Everton.
With an average age of just over 21, Manchester United look to have one of the most dangerous strike forces in world football and provided they maintain form, fitness and fit into Jose Mourinho’s uncompromising style of football….
‘The United Way’ could quickly return to Old Trafford and the rest of the Premier League better watch out!