Manchester United’s struggles under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have led to some serious revisionism around Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford reign.
Perhaps most notably, Mourinho’s claim (ESPN) that finishing second with United in the 2017/18 season ranked among his greatest achievements – mocked at the time – has now been accepted.
But it was still the correct decision to sack the Portuguese in December 2018, despite the current plight of the club under Solskjaer. Here’s why.
Mourinho became toxic, just like he always does
Perhaps some of the revisionism can be put down to the fact Mourinho is in full-on charm offensive on television.
He is back at the stage he was when he breezed into Old Trafford in 2016; relaxed, charismatic and entertaining to the extent that it was easy to forget he was the man who had overseen reigning champions Chelsea’s slide deep into the bottom half of the Premier League.
But he became toxic at Stamford Bridge and it was exactly the same at United.
By the time of his dismissal, Mourinho had hit out at many of his own players, the club’s football heritage and more, to protect his own reputation.
Eventually, Mourinho comes to defend his island of one and he was at that stage when he was sacked. Just because Solskjaer is struggling even more, it doesn’t mean Mourinho was the right man to take the club forward.
He wasn’t producing watchable football, his off-field comments were a laughing stock and he had to go.
Would De Gea and Martial re-signed under Mourinho?
For all of his faults, Solskjaer has convinced two of United’s best players – David de Gea and Anthony Martial – to sign extended deals.
Under Mourinho, their futures were up in the air. In all likelihood, Martial would have been sold and replaced by an ageing winger such as Willian or Ivan Perisic if the Portuguese were still in charge.
Mourinho may argue that he wanted Harry Maguire last summer, but he signed Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof in his first two seasons. The club were right to ask him to get more out of his existing purchases.
Fred was also signed on Mourinho’s watch. It might be argued that a competent structure behind the former Real Madrid boss would have been the ideal scenario, but his transfer record at United means that’s pure speculation.
The fact that Ed Woodward still hasn’t made any progress with a director of football and rushed the appointment of Solskjaer doesn’t change the fact that sacking Mourinho when he did was the right call to make. It’s revisionism to suggest otherwise.
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