Jose Mourinho this week suggested he would like to extend his stay at Manchester United beyond his current contract. In an interview with Sky Sports, the 53-year-old, who signed a three-year deal at Old Trafford in May, said he was ‘loving life’ in Manchester. Separated from his family and living alone in a hotel, Mourinho initially struggled to adapt to his new surroundings. But he now seems to have overcome his personal issues, no doubt helped by his side’s upturn in form.
After a challenging start to the season, United are beginning to hit their straps. Their unbeaten run in all competitions has stretched to 10 matches and they have climbed to sixth in the Premier League, four points off a Champions League place. After significant teething problems, Mourinho, who has already been sent to the stands twice this season, appears to have finally settled upon his preferred starting XI, with the likes of world-record signing Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic showing their true worth.
But is talk of prolonging his stay in Manchester premature? After all, Mourinho still has much to prove. He captured the Community Shield with his first competitive match in charge, but his results in the Premier League and Europa League have been inconsistent. And for the astronomical amount of money he has spent in just one transfer window, many United supporters will have expected more.
All managers need time to implement their vision, but at the top end of the Premier League, time is a precious commodity. While there is no suggestion Mourinho is under pressure at Old Trafford, such a high-profile job demands success. Remember, David Moyes lasted only one season and Louis van Gaal two. And as Mourinho knows only too well from his ill-fated second spell at Chelsea, achievements can be quickly forgotten. How much patience will United’s board members show if they continue to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on transfers for no reward?
With his side’s title aspirations effectively over, finishing in the top four is the minimum requirement for Mourinho. Currently, there is no guarantee that Champions League football will be returning to Old Trafford next season. While the Portuguese’s new-found cheerful disposition will likely benefit United, he would be wise not to look too far ahead. New contacts need to be earned and Mourinho has yet to convince that he is the man to bring back the glory days to Manchester United.