Both Manchester United and Sevilla won 1-0 in the Europa League quarter-finals in midweek to set up a semi-final clash on Sunday.
That match in Cologne will see the two sides meet for the first time since March 2018.
On that occasion, Sevilla won 2-1 at Old Trafford to dump Jose Mourinho’s United out of the Champions League.
Mourinho’s comments afterwards lost him a chunk of support among the United fanbase and looking back on his comments now, it’s clear how toxic the club became during his run – and how much good work Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done to clear up that mess.
What did Mourinho say?
In the direct aftermath of the defeat, BBC quoted Mourinho stating the defeat was ‘not something new for the club’, and reminding reporters of his personal record eliminating United twice at the last 16 stage.
Then, as per the Independent, he used his Friday press conference ahead of the FA Cup tie with Brighton to decry United’s lack of ‘football heritage’, lambasting the team’s lack of success in the post-Fergie era between 2013 and 2018, compared to Sevilla for instance, who had won the Europa League three times in this span to United’s one.
The Telegraph detailed his 12-minute monologue in full, describing it as ‘extraordinary’.
It was Mourinho at his paranoid, selfish worst and clearly demonstrated how toxic and divided the mood was around Old Trafford at the time.
29 months on, ahead of United’s next meeting with Sevilla, it is striking how much more serene and united the club now is under Solskjaer.
Solskjaer has cleaned up Mourinho’s mess
Mourinho tends to leave clubs in a state of disrepair and United were no different when Solskjaer was appointed interim manager.
The Norwegian has got key players – such as Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba – back onside and fostered a team spirit stronger than Mourinho mustered.
Win or lose on Sunday, Solskjaer won’t throw his employers under the bus or disrespect the badge on his chest like Mourinho did in March 2018.
There are legitimate questions about Solskjaer on other scores – including his tactical nous and variety – but he has detoxified the club he inherited from Mourinho.
That shouldn’t be forgotten, and looking back at Mourinho’s 2018 comments underlines just how sour things had turned under his stewardship.
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