The first season of Jose Mourinho’s reign at Old Trafford is almost up and after three years of bad times at The Theatre of Dreams following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson are things finally turning around under the Portuguese manager?
With an EFL Cup title to their name and them favoured to lift the Europa League title on May 24th in Sweden with www.latestbettingsites.co.uk things are much better than under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, but has the season been a success?
Manchester United will finish this season in sixth place in the league having given up on chasing a place in the top four towards the end of the season as they focused on securing a place in the Champions League next season via the Europa League instead.
Of course this makes sense when still in Europe and playing Thursday and Sunday while their closest rivals are able to focus on the league only, but with The Red Devils now finishing lower in the top flight than the two seasons under Louis van Gaal have they taken a step back domestically?
Despite this fact of finishing lower in the league for the first time since David Moyes was in charge of the club no fan will believe that they have gone backwards, even when they take into account Mourinho’s predilection for trying to ensure that his side does not lose matches.
This way of thinking has seen United draw the most amount of matches of anyone in the Premier League this season with them sharing the spoils on 14 occasions but with them having the second best record for the number of defeats and goals conceded, with league runners-up Tottenham ahead of them in both categories, there is certainly a solid base for moving upwards in the league during The Special One’s second season at the club.
With Manchester United lifting the EPL Cup at Wembley in February following a 3-2 victory over Southampton thanks to a late Zlatan winner and reaching the quarter finals of the FA Cup where they were edged out 1-0 by Chelsea in a fiery match that saw Ander Herrera red carded for United and Jose Mourinho involved in more than one touchline clash at the club where he won three Premier League titles they have impressed in cup competition this season.
The man in charge of The Red Devils certainly feels hard done by from that afternoon’s work and was much happier when his side triumphed 2-0 in the league.
Had they managed to turn in a performance like this in the cup they could be looking at a domestic cup double this season as Mourinho is known as a specialist in these types of competitions, his hatred of losing matches plus a well-rounded squad capable of resting players for cup games and still being more than strong enough to win, next season certainly has more cup victories on the cards for the 20 time top flight champions.
Manchester United struggled at the start of the season under their new manager and this was more evident than anywhere else in the Europa League as they were beaten in two of their first four group games and, for a short time, it looked as if they’d fall at the first hurdle – something that amused ABU’s to no end.
However, The Special One managed to get his side playing well enough to win the final two group games and move into the knockout stages. The majority of their four final stage ties have been very much Jose Mourinho style matches as they are closely fought encounters.
Rostov and Celta Vigo were eliminated by a single goal and United needed extra time to see off Anderlecht to book their place in the final and more of the same cagey style is expected in the decider too.
With this one shot decider against Ajax yet to come this season may see them claim their first Europa League title and their first European trophy since beating Chelsea on penalties in Moscow nine years ago.
Victory will put them into the Champions League for next season and, as suggested by www.latestbettingsites.co.uk, the Premier League side are the favourites to win this match.
Lifting the title will certainly add credence to the case to be made for a successful season for Mourinho on his Manchester United debut.
Many fans will see the transfers as having been hit and miss this season despite Jose Mourinho having made just four additions to the squad since his arrival.
Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who arrived on a free transfer from PSG has been the biggest hit with fans as he has netted 28 times this season, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly have both performed well this season too, although the latter of this pair has a blot on his end of term report as he will miss the Europa League Final after being red carded in the dying minutes of the second leg of the Semi Finals.
The big ‘miss’ has been Paul Pogba who has returned to Old Trafford after four years excelling in Serie A for Juventus.
His £89 million price tag has seemed like a weight around his neck as he is now the world’s most expensive player and he has not re-settled in Northern England.
The cost of bringing him back in what appeared to be a panic buy last August coupled with some poor performances, few assists and even fewer goals has some of the fans on edge about the manager spending vast quantities of money on players during the upcoming transfer window.
While many Manchester United fans will feel a little disappointed to finish so far behind the top four sides in the league this season, living up to their pre-match favourites billing and lifting a European title along with the EFL Cup this season will see them happy with their season’s trophy haul.
Two titles to their name in the first season of a new era will have the fans delighted at the success of this season and if Mourinho can get his recruitment perfect this summer then next season has the potential to be even better.