United’s dismal season finally came to a close with an embarrassing 2-0 loss at home to Cardiff on Sunday.
In the coming days and weeks I hope to do a lot more in depth breakdowns regarding the players and the massive task ahead of the club this summer. But for now I just wanted to make some quick comments out there as we head into the off season.
This season was supposed to be year three of the Jose Mourinho era. As everyone knows, year three of Mourinho ends poorly. It always has, wherever he is. Despite firing the guy midway through the season United couldn’t prevent their season from going down in flames too.
The season started with Mourinho complaining about everything. He complained about the team’s schedule. He complained about missing most of his squad for the pre-season tour (an affliction that also effected Manchester City and Liverpool who won 98 and 97 points respectively). He complained that his team wasn’t good enough.
Moan, moan, moan. It was exhausting.
Mourinho wasn’t particularly wrong, though complaining about the lack of a squad coming off a World Cup is ridiculous, but his attitude was.
Mourinho also failed to acknowledge that he was at fault for a lot of this. The squad wasn’t good enough, but that’s partially on Mourinho. He signed a lot of these players.
Fans may be upset that the club has handed out new contracts to mediocre players like Ashley Young, Phil Jones, and Chris Smalling but remember that these guys were Mourinho’s trusted servants. When the club was ready to let Maurouane Fellaini leave last summer, it was Mourinho who fought to get him a new contract. That contract would eventually lay the groundwork for Ander Herrera to leave.
The club got a new manager bump when Mourinho was fired, but ultimately couldn’t escape their fate. When Mourinho was fired no one expected them to get anywhere near the top four race. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got them there within a week. Perhaps they could have been better, but their thin roster tired and had to crawl over the finish line.
That roster was thin because it simply wasn’t good enough. That’s the fault of a lot of people. Mourinho’s signings were mostly terrible. Romelu Lukaku is not good enough. Nemanja Matic’s best days are behind him. Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t even last two years. Paul Pogba has been fantastic, but is getting run out of town.
Mourinho was right that the board didn’t back him last summer. It was a good move by the board. Mourinho was once again targeting very short term signings, an effort that would have made the team look slightly better this year, but leave them in the same need of improvements next year.
United wanted to think long term. Mourinho didn’t. When the team spoke about hiring a director of football at the beginning of the season Mourinho was against it. He wanted that control. That’s why you shouldn’t believe him when he now says that he only signed off on about two of the 11 signings the club made under him.
Those are words from a narcissist who’s trying to make his failure at Old Trafford seem like it wasn’t his fault. He’s looking to swindle another team into hiring him.
Despite the doom and gloom Manchester United are actually in a better place now then when they started the season. The team has problems. They’re out there for everyone to see. Now they can work on fixing them.
Had Solskjaer gotten United back into the Champions League, it would have been easy for Ed Woodward to simply say this was Jose Mourinho’s fault. With the late season collapse, the spotlight of blame is shining directly onto Woodward and the board.
Manchester United has a massive rebuild in front of them. Say what you want about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He may not be the next great United manager, but he’s definitely the type of manager you want right now.
Hiring David Moyes wasn’t the problem that sunk United. They hired him on a long term plan. It was the right thinking. The problem was Moyes wasn’t the right guy. They identified that problem and got rid of him. That’s OK. What isn’t ok is that the club then shifted their strategy in what kind of manager they wanted.
The last two United bosses have been resume managers. They’ve won in many different places and just wanted to add winning at Manchester United to their resume.
Solskjaer isn’t like them. He wants Manchester United to win. That’s his priority. This rebuild is going to take longer than one summer but that’s fine. Solskjaer’s not looking for his next job, he’s looking to bring this club back to the summit. Regardless of who is in charge that task is going to take time. Solskjaer is more likely to be given that time than any other manager out there.
When Sir Alex Ferguson retired I knew that it was inevitable for the club to eventually endure a dark three year Jose Mourinho period. That period is now over. It’s time to turn the page and look to the future.
Ole may be at the wheel, but if the board doesn’t get their shit together, it really doesn’t matter who is.