Sir Alex was never spared, why should Mourinho be?

Sir Alex was never spared, why should Mourinho be?

Sometime in 2005 or 2006 Martin Samuel then of the London Times wrote a column in which he absolutely battered Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. Part of what he wrote was “A team in transition or a club in decline? Brick by brick, the fall of the United empire gathers pace.”

Unfortunately that article is now behind a pay wall of the newspaper so I can’t bring the link.

Manchester United fans on many social media platforms seem to have convinced themselves that their football club is being unfairly targeted for criticisms by the press and pundits in the broadcast media.

It is one of the most comical things I have observed in my life as a football fan/pundit and journalist.

What I have found very strange has been the cry by these same set of fans that these critics are “all out to get Jose Mourinho the manager”.

Jose Mourinho after United won the Europa Cup in 2017

Man United are a behemoth of a football club. As I write, they lie 10th on the league table, looking so clearly incapable of winning the title. They can still win it but they will require the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City to suffer combined collapses in form. Stranger things have happened to be honest.

Sir Alex Ferguson was subjected to incredible amount of criticism in the years 2004 to mid-season 2007 when the club never challenged for the Premier League title. This is the Sir Alex that had won the Treble in 1999 followed by 2 other titles immediately after. The same man who had won two doubles before that in 1994 and 1996.

When United suffer a slump in form they will be roundly criticised and hammered by media and fans and ex-players. It is absolutely normal.

I was at Old Trafford in May 2007 on the afternoon when the club was presented with their first Premier League title in 4 seasons and the club’s 16th overall.

It was heady afternoon and I remember the feeling of hugging friends I had made over the course of the season just before kick-off. Being a season ticket holder at the time, we knew each other in that area. I still have the pull-out memento with “16” on it from that afternoon.

On a Monday evening in April of 2013, a Robin van Persie hat trick vs Aston Villa confirmed United’s 20th league title taking them 2 clear of eternal rivals Liverpool’s haul of 18 English top flight league titles. Sir Alex Ferguson retired and it has been a struggle ever since to mount a league title charge.

The less said about David Moyes’ 8 months in charge the better for all concerned.

Louis van Gaal replaced David Moyes and proceeded to bore many to death with his controlled, obsession with keeping the ball. He won the FA Cup but was fired even before the win.

Enter Jose Mourinho. In my many years of following football I have never come across a manager that divides a club’s fan base like Mourinho. He has the gift of making those who like/love him to worship him. Those who don’t, can’t seem to ever get it in them to even accept him grudgingly.

Mourinho was positioned as the serial winner of league titles but scratch the surface of that statement and you will wonder a little bit. By the time he took over at United he had TWO league titles in 6 seasons with clubs with the deep financial muscles of Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Into his third season now at United and he is no closer to winning the league it seems; which will mean he has 2 league titles in NINE seasons. That is pushing “serial winner” tag a little bit I think.

Part of the complaints and whining of the current generation of Man United fans include “ex-players undermining the team”. This is so eerily like what Gerard Houllier said after he was sacked by Liverpool As John Aldridge said in this link, those ex-players care passionately about the club and so speak their minds when asked.

The most amusing thing is that Mourinho’s Manchester United reminds me so much of Liverpool under Houllier.

Manchester United are expected to challenge for league titles every season, when they do not, criticisms will come and will be fierce – irrespective of the manager. If Sir Alex could be savaged in those fallow years despite the huge credit he had built, why should Mourinho be spared because of the league titles he won elsewhere?

The best way to silence critics is to win big trophies and for Manchester United the big trophies are the Premier League title and the UEFA Champions League.

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