Louis van Gaal, without a win in eight matches, seems to have lost the faith of the players; the majority of United fans, loathsome to his tedious football and inability to generate results, are calling for his departure.
Potential replacements take the form of: Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Ryan Giggs. It appears as though Mourinho is the most likely to take over at Old Trafford, with warm reception. However, the Portuguese manager is not the right man for the job, and for three central reasons: style, youth and long-term project.
The style of football played under van Gaal has been unceasingly ridiculed and lamented. It is slow, sideways and reeks of fear: polar to what we have come to expect from a United team. Sir Alex Ferguson demanded an attacking, direct and fast breed of football that allowed room for risk. Obviously, such tactics proved fruitful. A call to return to this exciting direction repeatedly echoes around Old Trafford, manifesting in chants of ‘Attack. Attack. Attack’.
With this in mind, why do said fans believe Mourinho will provide this? Towards the back-end of last season, Chelsea managed a feeble 21 goals, in 16 games. To compare, Manchester United have scored 20 in their last 16 games. One goal difference: Mourinho is not the man to bring back attacking football.
Mourinho’s method is to grind out results, disregarding the way in which said results are achieved: he would be content with his team playing dull football, if it ensured a 1-0 victory. Such an attitude is not good enough at United. Not only is there ‘an expectation to win’, as Mark Hughes put it, but there’s also an expectation that they win in an attractive fashion.
Some may seek to defend Mourinho and point to when he managed a Madrid team who scored 103 goals in a single La Liga season. Yet, you cannot compare the Premier League and La Liga when it comes to competitiveness; granted, La Liga boasts two of the best teams in the world, but below them, with exception to the top 5/6, are teams that have the defensive frailty of a low-achieving Championship team.
Anyone who believes Mourinho will save United from the destitute football they currently play is deluded. The ex-Chelsea manager sacrifices performances for results; a Manchester United manager is expected to combine performances with results.
The Red Devils have a long-standing tradition of bringing through academy players and allowing them the opportunity they deserve before judging whether they are good enough to compete with the Premier League’s elite.
(Courtesy of MUFC academy)
Say what you will about van Gaal, but at least he has continued such a tradition. The Dutchman has blooded a host of academy graduates: McNair, Lingard, Varela and Borthwick-Jackson, to name but a few.
United fans can bid farewell to such a tradition if Mourinho takes charge. It is no secret that he doesn’t trust young players, preferring to rely on experience. Further to this, he is reticent to give opportunities to academy prospects, and chooses to loan them out instead – they have 33 players out on loan, currently.
(courtesy of Daily Mail)
This reluctance to introduce young players is an example of how Mourinho has had no long-term ambitions at any of the clubs he has managed. The aim is always short-term, with no look towards to the future of the club: both financially, and with regards to competitiveness.
At a club like United, a constant presence in Europe’s elite is required. Mourinho may well take United back to the top, make them a threat in Europe once more, and bring trophies, but this will only be short-term. Indeed, Mourinho’s longest stint at a club is three years. Once he goes, he will leave the club in disarray – stability will be non-existent in terms of the youth-system and financial resource, costing time and success to fix.
Returning in 2013, the ‘Special One’ promised a decade of triumph at Stamford Bridge, with pundits predicting that he would create a legacy at Chelsea to rival SAF, and Arsene Wenger. We all know how that turned out.
There are a host of worthy managers that could take over from the faltering van Gaal – Mourinho is not one of them. Appointing him manager would probably bring trophies, but it would ruin the ideology prevalent at Old Trafford: he is everything that United are not, as outlined above.
The United hierarchy would be folly to sacrifice posterity for a few years of success.