Manchester United Should Snap Up Jose Mourinho Before Summer Managerial Scramble Begins
By Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) When Louis Van Gaal turned up at Carrington training ground for work on Tuesday he perhaps half expected to see Jose Mourinho’s car in his parking spot. This week has been a whirlwind of speculation over the Dutchman’s immediate future at Manchester United, with the Old Trafford club reportedly evaluating his position. Indeed, United are suffering something of a crisis at present – having failed to win any of their last six matches. Progress has stalled this season, with the atmosphere at Old Trafford now more toxic than at any point over the past two decades or so – even during the ill-fated David Moyes era. Van Gaal’s job, for many, has become untenable. The former Ajax and Barcelona boss has been somewhat unfortunate in that his team’s current slump has coincided with the dismissal of Mourinho at Chelsea. The Portuguese should have been appointed at Old Trafford following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson two years ago, but now the Red Devils can make amends for previous errors by turning to Mourinho. There’s little doubt the man himself would relish the chance to take charge of United – given the manner with which he courted the position in the years leading up to Ferguson’s exit – but would Mourinho be a good fit for the club? As a great of the European coaching scene, he might fit the caliber of United, but stylistically and ideologically would he be the right man for the job? If the time-honoured personality of Man Utd is to integrated as a fast-flowing, dynamic – often counter-attacking – side, Mourinho probably isn’t the most suitable candidate to take the helm. He might have overseen an inherently attacking side at Real Madrid, but with Chelsea and Inter Milan the Portuguese was a distinctly defensive coach. That’s not exactly in keeping with what is demanded at Old Trafford. But in Mourinho, United would be hiring a proven winner. He has succeeded at every club he has ever taken charge of, winning titles in England, Spain, Italy and Portugal – lifting the Champions League twice as well. Regardless of his methods or process, he delivers results. And yet his philosophy as a soccer coach could once again prevent him from bagging the job he has so clearly desired for quite some time. Some members of the United board are also reportedly wary of Mourinho’s public persona and often grating media character – although after years of outbursts and rants from Ferguson that reasoning looks somewhat lightweight. Despite all this, though, there appears to be a growing clamour from United supporters for Mourinho’s appointment – with the 52-year-old’s name chanted during Saturday’s home defeat to Old Trafford. Is the choice is between Van Gaal – who has reduced United to English soccer’s most insipid outfit – or Mourinho, then the latter is the better option. On current form, it’s only a matter of time before such a realisation hits those in charge at the club. As far as Van Gaal’s concerned, however, the media is to blame for the swirling speculation around his position at United. “I want to say only that I have tried to lift the confidence of my players, I have done everything this week,” he said during his five-minute rant at the assembled press. “I hold meetings, evaluation meetings with the players, with my members of staff, I hold a Christmas lunch, I have held a speech and I feel the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington, this Aon training complex. “But I didn’t feel that in the media and, of course, I can imagine that you can write about that subject. We are not in a good position but four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League and in about four weeks we can again be back in that position.” This summer could see the biggest managerial scramble in living memory, with seemingly every elite club in Europe either already looking – or on the brink of – for a new coach. Van Gaal’s firing would only add to that mix, but should it come to that Man Utd would be wise to take Mourinho out of the equation before someone else does.