The curse of the third season has struck again and Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Manchester United. It is accepted as common knowledge by football fans that Mourinho under-performs terribly during his third season at a club and they have been proved as far the 2018-19 season of the Premier League is concerned.
Manchester United has announced that Jose Mourinho has left the Club.
We would like to thank him for his work during his time at Manchester United and wish him success in the future. #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 18, 2018
When he was appointed the manager of the club in 2016, there was great excitement at the club. Fans were bored and disgusted by Louis Van Gaal’s brand of football and Mourinho’s appointment breathed fresh life into Old Trafford. He was considered and still is, one of the greatest managers of the era alongside Pep Guardiola. More than that, he appeared to be the perfect fit for United in terms of his personality. Often brash, that arrogance and the swagger that defined United during the glorious years of Sir Alex Ferguson, Mourinho appeared to be destined for great success at United.
The first season at Old Trafford for Mourinho was steady. Although United finished 6th in the league and qualified for Champions League. Fans were satisfied with Mourinho’s first season. There were definite signs of improvement and there were two trophies to boost. United seemed on their way up.
The second season United finished second in the league. Although there were some concerns about the manner in which United played under Mourinho, which was a marked departure from Sir Alex’s free-flowing style of football, only Manchester City, who had a record-breaking season, finished above United and no one could complain too much.
The third season proved to be the nail in the coffin for Mourinho’s career at United. Languishing at sixth with merely 26 points from 17 matches, already 11 points off the fourth place, things aren’t looking good for United at the moment. More worryingly, United was playing the worst football I have seen them play since I started supported the club 15 years ago.
The game against Liverpool on Sunday, United struggled to keep the ball for two minutes. Liverpool, United’s bitter arch-rival, had 64% of the possession, 36 shots on goal of which 11 were on target and the only goal United did manage to secure in their 1-3 defeat at Anfield was through a goalkeeping error. That performance for United was absolutely shocking.
Apart from troubles on the field, there were rumours of trouble between Mourinho and his players. The feud between Paul Pogba and Mourinho has been the hot topic for news for months now. Pogba was benched by Mourinho the past couple of games and he wasn’t in the starting line-up versus Liverpool as well.
Although Mourinho has been sacked, it is very unlikely that it will help United recover from the mess they find themselves in. The club’s transfer policy appears to be in shambles and the Vice Chairman at the club, Ed Woodward, appears to be more concerned with securing sponsorship deals for the club rather than the players necessary to spark United’s revival in the post-Fergie era. United have now sacked three managers since Sir Alex retired in 2013. There are surely bigger problems within the club than just the manager.
Fans really wish it had turned out different but perhaps, it wasn’t meant to be. The first two seasons promised a lot for United but the curse of the third season manifested itself yet again. In the end, it is a question of numerous ‘what ifs’. What if Mourinho had gotten the Center Backs he asked for during the transfer window? What if the relationship between Pogba and Mourinho had not soured? What if the owners of the club had really backed Mourinho with the financial the club so obviously has? Unfortunately, such questions will remain unanswered.
As for Mourinho, he is the one primarily responsible for his own fate. His tactics were clearly not working, it is unclear as to what extent he was responsible for the feud with Pogba. The manner in which United played was awful. His time at United has led many to question whether he still has what it takes to remain a competitive manager at the highest level. Whether he can prove his critics wrong, only time will tell.
Despite being a fan of his, I have to admit, it was time to go. But as a fan of United, I wish the relationship between the ‘Special One’ and the special club had ended on a better note.