“We want to win everything!” The Special One proclaimed when he took over the reigns at Old Trafford, Jose had arrived bring along the world-class talents of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. A brilliant beginning to season seemed to all but cement United as genuine title contenders, Bournemouth fell away, Southampton and then Hull.
Mourinho’s men struggled againsts Guardiola’s City but by the time United had put Leicester City to the sword with a thrilling 4 -1 win, the Reds seemed to be a major fixture at the summit of the Premier League.
And then came October and the beginning of a strange period for Red half of Manchester. United couldn’t buy a league win, Europa League was no problem, EFL Cup was no problem but United just could not win a premier league game.
This was made even more frustrating by the fact that United were playing some eye-catching attacking football, the team was getting more cohesive and a midfield trio of Herrera-Carrick-Pogba was the bedrock of these good performances but still a win was elusive. Opposition goalkeepers were coming to Old Trafford and turning into Peter Schmeichel, remember Lee Grant and Tom Heaton? Add to that the fact that United weren’t finishing the chances they created and you can understand why it was a quite weird time for the Red Army; the belief in the manager and the team was there, the performances were there but the goals were absent.
But with the Swedish goaltank Ibrahimovic and the creative talents of players like Pogba, Mata, Mkhitaryan and Herrera (a future United captain, surely) the goals soon came. A 1 – 0 win against Spurs on December 11 began a winning streak that has stretched into the new year, some might bemoan the lack of challenging opposition in this time but you can only play what’s in front of you and besides, no premier league game is easy.
We’re halfway through the season now and United are on a phenomenal run, today’s F.A Cup triumph over Reading moves Mourinho’s men to eight wins in a row in all competitons.
However, United are sixth in the league and we cannot deny the talents and good form of the teams above us. Turn a couple of those earlier draws into wins and United would be in much more appealing position but time is weird that way – you just can’t go back.
A sense of optimisim has creeped back into Old Trafford and confidence is high amongst supporters and the squad. No doubt Jose Mourinho has restored the fans’ faith in Uniteds style of play. The football is slick, exciting, smooth and most importantly it is attacking football!
The questions persists though: would a top four finish be enough for United? Consider our style of play recently and the fact that we are still challenging in three other competitions and then add that this is Mourinho’s first season at the helm.
What do you think? Would qualifying for the Champions League be enough to take into next season? Or perhaps if a cup was won to supplement that top four finish?