Oct 20, 2017
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Jose Mourinho needs to build a dynasty at Manchester United in order to emulate Alex Ferguson

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Modern football is now moulded by a definitive need for instant success and short-term accomplishments. It is all about the here and now for owners and supporters who are focused entirely on where their club is positioned in the league table, how their team played in their last fixture and are they going to win the next contest at the weekend.

The game is characterised by short-termism and knee-jerk reactions at the cost of long-term planning and enduring philosophies.

Football managers operating in England are acutely aware of this fact. For them, it is a case of attempting to survive on a day to day, week-to-week basis, where the only thing that truly matters is the result of the next match.

Of the 92 clubs that occupy the top four divisions of English football, only 22 managers have been in their position for more than two years – sackings, dismissals and appointments appear to be reported on an almost weekly basis.

Already this season Frank de Boer lost his job at Crystal Palace after just four games, whilst last year Claudio Ranieri was ruthlessly sacked by Leicester City less than six months after guiding the club to a remarkable Premier League triumph. Even this week, the Italian’s replacement at the King Power Stadium, Craig Shakespeare, was dismissed just four months into a three-year contract.

The general consensus is that Arsene Wenger is the last of a dying breed – managers are no longer provided with the time and patience to build a dynasty.

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Manchester United moving beyond the shadow of Ferguson

The shadow of Sir Alex Ferguson still looms large over Old Trafford, even four years after his retirement in 2013.

The Scotsman is one of the best football managers of all time, winning a grand total of 38 trophies over 26 years with Manchester United, and his departure from the dugout left exceedingly large shoes for his successors to fill.

David Moyes proved to be a poor appointment and his lack of managerial experience at an elite club quickly came to the forefront and undermined his short-lived spell in charge whilst even Louis Van Gaal struggled to pull the club out of the post-Ferguson lull.

And so we came to Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese Maestro is one of the most successful managers in the modern era having won titles and trophies in England, Spain, Portugal and Italy in addition to the Europa League and Champions League twice each. He has worked with some of the best players in the world and has undoubtedly left an impact wherever he has been employed.

However, despite this success Mourinho has never remained at a club for longer than three seasons, barring his inaugural spell with Chelsea, and has failed to build a long-term dynasty. His perceived arrogance and confrontational nature certainly do not lend themselves to long-term sustainability and the general consensus is that his arrival at a club will bring trophies, but the fun will never last.

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Ferguson is considered to be one of the best managers of all time and if Mourinho is to emulate the Scotsman at Old Trafford then he needs to do much more than simply win a handful of trophies over a couple of years. Winning silverware is impressive, but maintaining success over an extended period of time is what creates a legend.

Mourinho has started his career at Old Trafford firmly on the front foot. His debut season with the club ended in success in domestic and European competitions resulting in a long-awaited return to the Champions League. True, the league campaign was crippled by 10 draws on home soil, but there were signs that United were beginning to head in the right direction.

The progress continued during the summer and Mourinho moved quickly to correct the errors that undermined the previous season. Romelu Lukaku has brought the power, pace and firepower to see off lesser teams, while Namanja Matic has added steel, discipline and authority to the midfield as Marcus Rashford continues to improve.

United are yet to be beaten in the Premier League and are favourites to qualify for the knock out stages of the Champions League having won their opening three group matches – in fact, the Reds have been ruthlessly swatting aside opposition.

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Mourinho’s chance to build a dynasty

Jose Mourinho has demonstrated that he can develop and mould a team capable of winning league titles and silverware, but his arrival at Manchester United provides him with an unlikely opportunity to become something more than just a short-term fix.

We all know that he can win trophies, but can he maintain success over an extended period of time and build a dynasty? Sir Alex Ferguson continuously remoulded and modernised his teams to ensure that the club dominated English football for the best part of two decades, something that none of successors have looked even remotely capable of repeating.

That shadow and legacy has hung over those that have followed in his footsteps, but in Mourinho the club have a character with the confidence and authority to implement his own legacy.

United are a club that demands success, but should Jose Mourinho wish to be remembered with the same respect, admiration and appreciation as Ferguson then he needs to do much more than just facilitate a short-term revival before departing.

This is his opportunity to build a dynasty and legacy that will cement him as one of the club’s greatest managers – but in order to do this, he needs to prove that he can maintain success for longer than two or three seasons.

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Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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