#360view: If anyone can reinvigorate United it's Mourinho

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  • It is fair to say a man of Jose Mourinho’s obvious intelligence will be perfectly aware he must live up to his famous self-annoin-ted moniker to succeed at Manchester United.

    ‘The Special One’ is set to lead a fallen giant, ravaged by two years of mismanagement from his outdated mentor Louis van Gaal.

    Someone of such Machiavellian cunning will clearly realise Saturday’s FA Cup triumph does not mask the scale of the task ahead of him to return the record 20-time Premier League champions to the forefront of the English and European game.

    The road ahead is not a straightforward one.

    Yet Mourinho, in typical forthright manner, will back himself to make the substantial changes which will bring the good times back to the Theatre of Dreams.

    Where the unqualified David Moyes floundered and outmoded Van Gaal exasperated, the new man’s pragmatism is exactly what is required. His ditching by Chelsea in December should not provide any doubts.

    A ravaging culture of limited ambition has swept over Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit in 2013. Low points have included Moyes’ unspeakable declaration neighbours Manchester City were at the “level we need to try and aspire to”, to Van Gaal laughably stating “expectations are much too high” during a season in which minnows Leicester City swept to the Premier League title.

    This would never have happened under the Scotsman and will not occur under Mourinho. For a coach who has dominated at Porto, Chelsea (twice), Internazionale and Real Madrid, backwards steps do not exist.

    Neither is the image this will be attained through solely negative football reflected in fact.

    The Portuguese’s side outscored Barcelona twice during his three seasons in La Liga, while the ruthless counter-attacking witnessed by Chelsea from 2004-7 through Arjen Robben and Damien Duff was a joy to behold.

    It is this last example which is the blueprint Mourinho will build upon next term. United’s joint-best defensive record in England during 2015/16 was gained while a club-low 49 goals were scored in the Premier League era.

    Mourinho's trophies

    • Porto: Premeira Liga x2, Taca de Portugal, UEFA Cup, Champions League
    • Chelsea: Premier League x3, FA Cup, League Cup x3
    • Inter: Serie A x2, Coppa Italia, Champions League
    • Real Madrid: La Liga, Copa del Rey

    ‘The Special One’ will surely marry the two better than Van Gaal. In Anthony Martial he possesses the archetypal wing forward he desires, while Marcus Rashford’s remarkable ability at 18 to run the channels and adroitly link play will be a boon.

    A reticence to play youth products like Rashford is also cited, with the discarding of Belgium stars Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea troubling. Yet special young talents have always taken Mourinho’s eye, including France centre-back Raphael Varane starting for Real Madrid aged 18 and the instant promotion of then 22-year-old Petr Cech to No1 status at Chelsea.

    Left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and utility man Timothy Fosu-Mensah should not fear stagnation.
    The greatest strength Mourinho will bring to United is his work in the transfer market. Allied with ‘super agent’ Jorge Mendes, there will no repeat of the wastage endured under Van Gaal.

    A reunion with talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems inevitable, while Everton’s John Stones could develop into a world-class centre-back under him if last summer’s pursuit at Chelsea is repeated and Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez could be enlivened. The intertwining relationship between Mendes and goalkeeper David De Gea should guarantee the Red Devils’ only world-class player is retained.

    The power of his reputation will also mean United can go head-to-head with his La Liga nemesis Pep Guardiola’s City both on and off the pitch.

    Under Van Gaal, a Sky Blue wave threatened to wash them out.

    Ultimately, the new man guarantees silverware like few others in football history. An incredible 22 trophies during 14 years at the top attests to this.

    Belatedly and definitely, United have corrected a ruinous error to pass Mourinho over. Success will surely follow.