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23rd Dec 2015

Mourinho to Man United: The arguments for and against an appointment that would rock football

Nooruddean Choudry

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United.

At once it is both hard to imagine and yet utterly irresistible. Louis van Gaal’s uncertain future, allied with the fact that Mourinho is eager to return to management at the earliest opportunity, makes it a very real possibility.

But even when you factor in the 52-year-old’s peerless CV with United’s current predicament, many are still wary of the Portuguese taking charge at Old Trafford. And with good reason too.

Here we look at both sides of the argument…

No – he would be a disaster

Jose Mourinho would be a car crash appointment.

On a personal level, the man is toxic. There is a difference between instilling an us-against-them siege mentality, and creating a poisonous atmosphere of deep paranoia. Winners are rarely squeaky-clean, but Mourinho is regularly an embarrassment to his employers and staff.

He has ruined careers to deflect from his own failings. Anders Frisk and Eva Caneiro can vouch for that. And it’s not as if causing a man to retire due to death threats or vilifying a model professional for doing her job are regrettable anomalies.

Whether it’s poking a cowardly finger in the eye of Tito Vilanova during his time in Spain, or developing a frankly weird obsession with Arsene Wenger in recent years, the Portuguese is poisonously petty. He genuinely feels that the pandering English press have it in for him too.

None of this is justified, but it would be someway explicable if Mourinho was still able to instil in his players an unwavering loyalty. But he left Chelsea a smoking cesspit of open mutiny. Creating a siege situation in which your own troops turn against you speaks volumes.

Man United fans are sick of dull football and their favourite players not getting a look in. They implore offensive play with their famous chant of: ‘Attack! Attack! Attack Attack Attack!’ – the appointment of Jose Mourinho would solve that how exactly?

There will be no more attacking football under Mourinho as there is under Louis van Gaal. In fact the Dutchman’s former protege will only serve up more of the same low-scoring fare. Oh, and the Old Trafford faithful may as well enjoy Juan Mata while they still can.

Young hopefuls at United can wave goodbye to blossoming careers too. There’s a reason why Mourinho never leaves a legacy at any club he manages and that’s because he is only in it for himself. He invests heavily in experience with no regard for long-term thinking.

In summary, if Man United plump for Mourinho, they’ll get a bitter, poisonous man whose entire ethos is the antithesis of every the club have always stood for. No youth development, no attacking football, no honour or respect. He’ll leave chaos behind him in three years’ time.

Yes – he would be ideal

Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful managers in history – and he’s only a decade older than Ryan Giggs.

Louis van Gaal has kind of served his purpose at Old Trafford, but he needs to go. It is Man United’s incredible fortune that someone of Jose Mourinho’s stature and genius is currently available, and they must act swiftly and decisively to secure his services.

First let us address the devil incarnate argument. It is incredibly important at this stage to get over yourself. Done that? Good. Mourinho is neither Charles Manson nor Francis Underwood. He is a winner, and enjoys mind games just as much as Sir Alex Ferguson.

Of course he is a divisive figure and something of a panto villain. But that’s hardly an alien concept to Old Trafford, is it? Fergie, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Patrice Evra…recent Old Trafford history is full of anti-heroes who were loathed outside the club, but adored within.

United need to reestablish their f*ck you attitude and cocky swagger, and the pugnacious Portuguese will definitely do that. He is loathed and feared in equal measure, and will have foes quaking in their boots. If their mocking laughter is replaced by angry boos then good.

It is bizarre how immediate success is seen as a criticism of Mourinho. A club like Man United, that is fearful of a prolonged period without a trophy post-Fergie, needs success ASAP. Mourinho is capable of winning them the league this year – he’s that good.

The Portuguese has proved he can succeed at various clubs in numerous countries. To suggest he can’t alter his tactics or methods to fit in at Old Trafford is ridiculous. He isn’t pig-headed and blinkered like Van Gaal; he is a pragmatist and can make it work.

Some seem to prefer Pep Guardiola but that’s a strange viewpoint to take. Mourinho knows English football and has proved himself here. Guardiola has never experienced a league quite as competitive or relentless as the Premier League. He’ll need to adapt his ‘philosophy’.

In the grand scheme of things, so what if Mata is a victim of Mourinho’s arrival? Success is what matters. The right stars – Robben, Drogba, Ronaldo, Lampard, etc – all flourished under his leadership. The fact that Chelsea fans still adore him despite this season’s woes says it all.

Imagine a chest-thumping, cage-rattling Jose stood on the touchline at Old Trafford. There’s no debate.