Entering his third season at Old Trafford, José Mourinho’s first two years at Manchester United have been received with mixed reviews.
His Europa League success in his first season overshadowed his team’s sixth place league finish and took the Red Devils back into the Champions League. His second place finish achieved last year was criticised for how far off the pace his team were away from rivals Manchester City.
But based on results, it’s hard to argue with the progress United have made under Mourinho’s tenure. The 81 points accumulated in the 2017/18 is the highest points total since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season, and was an eleven-point upgrade on their next best finish in the past five years.
Yet the points total doesn’t tell the full story of United’s season. The Round of 16 exit against Sevilla, saw the Spanish side rain double the amount of shots (46) over two legs compared to United (23). And Paul Pogba was only used as a substitute in both games, as United bowed out with barely a whimper.
Still the antipathy towards the Portuguese boss from the media and segments of the fans seems out of proportion.
Whilst the manager passed both positive and negative assessments of the difficulties in preseason, it was the press that magnified the negative comments to fill their column inches and report on the negative attitude of Mourinho.
Mourinho’s feud with the media goes back to his days with Chelsea, and the United coach has openly mocked the journalists that have to write about him and his club, calling them ‘Einsteins.’
However, there is no question that the Manchester United chief could have been more savvy in how he disseminated his information, particularly when he is aware of how his comments are being reported.
Did he really have to say, “it’s not up to us to get the best out Pogba,” or “I wouldn’t have paid to watch us”?
Of all the Premier League managers likely to leave their post next, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Unai Emery, Maurizio Sarri and Mauricio Pochetino are all outsiders with the bookmakers, whilst Mourinho is one of the favourites.
Ultimately, his third season at Old Trafford will come down to the results on the pitch. If Mourinho can compete for the league title, then the noise around Old Trafford will get quieter.
If United drop points, the calls for Mourinho to be ousted will get louder, and that starts from Friday when they take on Leicester City at the Theatre of Dreams.
It’s a results business and that’s how football is. Luckily for Mourinho, he is a man that has made a great a career out of getting results on the pitch.