From scooping two major honours to painful losses against bitter rivals, Jose Mourinho’s Man United reign has been up and down so far.
Jose Mourinho could remain with Manchester United until the end of the 2020-21 season after he agreed a new contractwith the Premier League giants.
The 54-year-old’s reign at Old Trafford has brought silverware, famous wins, transfer coups, controversy and antagonism – very much a microcosm of his stellar career.
As the Portuguese aims to bring sustained success to United for the first time since Alex Ferguson’s historic tenure, we look back at a few of the highs and lows he has experienced with the Red Devils so far.
Ibrahimovic’s Wembley heroics
Injury might have robbed United of their talisman Ibrahimovic, but Mourinho’s shrewd tactical plan nullified a bright young Ajax team, with Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on target to seal Europa League glory with a 2-0 triumph in Stockholm. It meant a return to the Champions League for United and the club’s sixth European honour took on added resonance as it arrived in the immediate aftermath of May’s Manchester Arena terror attack.
Miss-steps in the transfer market set the tone for David Moyes’ ill-fated stint as United boss, while the failure of marquee recruits Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Bastian Schweinsteiger left Louis van Gaal shopping for potential with mixed results. Under Mourinho, the 20-time English champions have decisively returned to the top table, with the blockbusting signings of Pogba and Romelu Lukaku in consecutive close seasons, before Alexis Sanchez’s arrival this week secured a notable coup at the expense of rivals Manchester City. Mourinho remains an enticing draw for the very best.
Conte dishes out humiliation
Four wins from their first eight Premier League matches with Mourinho in charge showed United to be very much a work in progress by October 2016. The same could be said for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea but Pedro’s opening goal after 30 seconds set in motion a 4-0 thumping at Stamford Bridge, with the United boss taunted by the fans who once idolised him. Chelsea’s march to the title truly gathered momentum on a day when the seeds for Mourinho’s unseemly recent spat with Conte were planted.
Guardiola’s City a class above
Manchester City needed fortuitous set-piece bounces for David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi to score, while United were briefly level through Marcus Rashford and Ederson made an improbable save from Lukaku in December’s 2-1 derby defeat. However, the game as a whole told a different story, with old sparring partner Pep Guardiola and City a class apart on their way to a 14th consecutive Premier League win, forcing United and Mourinho into a reactionary defensive shell. At full-time, Mourinho’s objections to the boisterousness of City’s celebrations sparked an alleged fracas.
Parking the bus
Accusations of employing overly defensive tactics had become part of the Mourinho discourse long before his arrival in Manchester, but certain games at United have brought sustained criticism. Goalless draws at Liverpool in each of the past two seasons were notable for the visitors almost entirely lacking attacking intent, while City fans serenaded him with their “park the bus” song last month. The arrival of Sanchez will increase expectations that United take the game to opponents in a more expansive manner on a regular basis.