When Jose Mourinho finally left after the derby defeat against Liverpool, many Man United fans were left with a taste of relief. The writing was on the wall for the Portuguese manager since a couple of months of, and it was probably only a matter of time. The reasons behind his sacking could be various and almost every United fan across the globe could give his list. Strangely or not, Manchester United managing bodies could also be blamed for the situation most successful English club currently is at. Jose received a contract extension last season even when some worrying signs were there to be seen. We looked what went wrong for Mourinho this season and what was the instant things which Solskjær changed. The subject whether the Norwegian should remain beyond this season is somewhat unclear and most importantly what would be the other options available – Pochettino, Zidane, someone else?
The big tests for the new regime at United are only coming – Spurs in the league and ambition to enter the Top 4, PSG at the Champions League in February and the domestic cup. Maybe some of this will be sacrificed, or maybe Ole Gunnar will go for all of them. Many things remain to be seen, but the start is somewhat promising, and United’s style of play bring back joy to their fans at last.
Jose famously fell out with some of his high profile players and was caught on various occasions being on opposite opinion with them. You could argue that this is possible and could happen to anyone at any club, but whether this must occur in public remains questionable. Jose decided to go and attack players openly in his post-match interviews shattering the confidence of Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Fred and almost everyone from his squad. The answer to the question for players’ confidence: Why do some teams excel under certain managers? Why does the same employee perform differently under different managers or at different points in his career? Jose lost the dressing room and eventually lost his job.
During his first five games in charge, Ole Gunnar Solskjær seems to inspire the squad and players such as Pogba, Lukaku, Suarez and the defence looks different and much more inspired. The freedom and the spirit Paul Pogba is playing is with, really makes you wonder if this the same player? The Norwegian lifted the spirits. But since Solskjær has come in Old Trafford appears to be a much happier place. He made an effort to congratulate almost each of his players, hugged them and praised them after each match, reminding us more to Jurgen Klopp than to Jose. The Portuguese approached “me vs the world” and often went to war of words with the media, opposing managers or players, but in the opposing side often he included his players. That, as previously mentioned, cost him his job.
Negative tactics – Attacking display
Jose was often accused of playing so defensively and result oriented. Yes, he got his enormous trophy room with Chelsea, Inter, Real and Porto, but many of the cups were won with brilliant tactics based on great defensive displays. Porto’s surprising Champions League win put Mourinho on the cover page of European football, but has the Special One improved from back then? Has he adapted his style of play to today’s game? With the influx of Mancini, Conte and Guardiola, even the old 4-4-2 was dumped for more modern looking 3-5-2 with wing-backs, and many dinosaurs of the English game adapted this display. Even Mourinho tried playing with wing-backs such as Young, Valencia, Darmian and Shaw. The number of games when United took the lead and then dropped back were so many that it will be difficult to name them all. In the first five games United played under Solskjaer, the team didn’t stop attacking. Even when they were leading, the substitutions were attacking oriented, and the Norwegian put out players on similar or more attacking positions.
One man who has benefited immensely from the Norwegian’s positive approach is Marcus Rashford, who is looking an absolute world-beater at the moment. The youngster has netted two in three under Solskjær but has been involved in every productive thing United have done going forward. His assist for Pogba’s opener against Bournemouth was Lionel Messi-esque, and he’s certainly enjoying expressing himself as his manager asked.
Mike Phelan and bringing back Sir Alex Ferguson’s values
When it was announced that Mike Phelan is going to be part of the Norwegian’s staff team, everyone was pleased that a familiar face from Sir Alex’s time is returning to Old Trafford. The importance of the assistant should not be underestimated, and United benefited from a person who worked closely to Ferguson over the years. The authority he is putting to all the players could be a massive boost to Ole Gunnar and the rest of his team.
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