EUROPA TRIUMPH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING: The Mourinho Era Begins
After a turbulent season that included over 60 games, 15 draws and endless amounts of frustration, Manchester United went out on a high, winning the Uefa Europa League trophy and securing Champions League football for next season.
The win also sees the Red Devil’s manager Jose Mourinho secure his third trophy in his first season at the club.
Many pundits and fans alike have had a say on what constitutes a successful season for Manchester United. It was anticipated that United could win the league title given the acquisitions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and transfer-record signing Paul Pogba.
However, the 6th place finish in the league, while poor, does not speak of the foundation Jose Mourinho has established.
United had the highest missed chances count in the Premier league with 50 and had the 8th lowest return on goals. However, Mourinho’s men proved very difficult to break down, conceding a mere 29 goals, only Tottenham had less, and the equal most clean sheets. This suggests while the Portugese manager has faced challenges with injuries and form, he has instilled a resiliency within Old Trafford that appeared to leave when Sir Alex pulled the curtain on his glitter-filled tenure.
The ‘Special one’ also has instilled some accountability in the squad, shown with rotations of Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. While media outlets suggests this puts players on the outer, it appears to be a challenge from the manager to install a work-ethic and desire for winning, shown in his praise for Marcus Rashford who the Portugese states does not finish training when the rest of the squad does.
Mainstream media outlets will have you believe Paul Pogba has been a ‘flop’ this season, however, the Frenchman was ranked 9th in the league for chances created while hitting the woodwork more than any other player in the league with 9. If half of those attempts at goal go in, his statistics would read differently, however, he did open the scoring for United in the Europa league final which lead to an eventual victory.
Wednesday’s triumph secures United’s pathway into the Uefa Champions League, a minimum target set by the club which allows the Red Devils maximum potential in financial gains but more crucially, the best chance of attracting the high calibre players the club needs.
If United can be condemned and ridden-off as failures while winning three trophies, two of which were difficult cup competitions in the midst of being juggled with other games, what will a squad with Jose Mourinho a year forward with further class players coming in, be able to achieve?
The scene of the Europa league trophy being held high closes the season on a high, but for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, this is only the beginning.
Your Aussie Red Devil,