A Fight Between the Blues

It’s back! (Well yesterday it was) – the Premier League has returned after just the 3 months, and I can’t help but feel a little meh about it all. Don’t get me wrong, I love my football, it’s great to have the league back, but I can’t help but feel a little dismayed at the state of the sport. The needless being thrown into transfers, wages, and agent fees has reached a new ridiculous level: 190m for Neymar, possible 100 for Dembele, possibly 100 for Coutinho, City spending 120m on full backs!!

It’s easy to say that surely it will hit a peak and drop down again, but I’ve been saying that for a few years now – and so were fans 15/20 years ago. Another reason for my rather low levels of excitement has been my team’s summer – the losses of Ake, Zouma, Matic, and Chalobah very frustrating. So, I’ll start my Premier League preview with my own team, as we look to defend our title over the coming months.

As I mentioned the summer activity has been frustrating, as once again we let great youth prospects leave the club permanently or on loan whilst our first team squad looks at least 2 or 3 quality players short. The signings made look good, but having Ake, Zouma, and Chalobah as backups would have given us a strong squad to compete with in all competitions. Arguably our biggest title rivals, City, spent a bus load of money this summer, over 200 million in fact, and look like the team to beat. Their front line is scary, and their back line looks bolstered, but the main question for them, is can these personalities gel together quickly?

Another title seeking team is Manchester United, who have now gone 4 years without a title, and are under huge pressure to change that. So is Mourinho, who has never gone 3 seasons without a title, and has always won a title in his first two seasons at a new club. Again, Mourinho has bought quickly and shrewdly, bringing in Lukaku, Matic, and Lindelof, and they very much look the complete team. Their fate will likely be dependent on how well Lukaku settles, and whether they can turn those constant draws from last season into wins.

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Mour Success for United?

The news broke not long after Saturday’s FA Cup final that Mourinho joining United was all but done. This wasn’t a surprise to many, as it’s been coming for months. Winning the FA Cup was never going to be enough for Van Gaal, as United missed out on the top 4 for a second time in the past three years. It was enough for Moyes to be sacked, so the writing was on the wall.

I am a lifelong Chelsea fan; so when it comes to the subject of Jose Mourinho I have nothing but praise, and a host of incredible footballing memories. Jose has won 3 league titles at the Bridge, 3 league cups, and an FA Cup. Not just this but he brought a style of play to Chelsea that was not popular to all, but was a pleasure to watch for me. My footballing philosophy has always been one of structure, discipline, and clean sheets the priority, so his style did resonate with me.

But I will never be able to forgive him for joining United.

Sure the respect will be there, so will the memories. But joining one of our biggest rivals is just unforgivable. And I wouldn’t be surprised if when he returns to the Bridge there’s a mixture of cheers and jeers.

Now there’s many who are discussing just how will Mourinho fare at United, and it’s true that this is a situation he’s never really faced as a manager. Firstly, he had a nightmare this season, and showed just how destructive he can be at a club. For the first time in his career he has to bounce back, and reprove himself somewhat. Which won’t be an easy task. Also he’s taking over a club without Champions League football, something he’s never done.

Minus the season just gone, Mourinho has an unmatched record in management. He has won pretty much everything wherever he has gone, including both European competitions with Porto, countless trophies at Chelsea, the treble at Inter, and the double at Madrid. For me, him and Simeone are currently the two best managers in the world (that I’ve seen regularly), and all signs point towards him bringing success to United.

However, I have my doubts.

Mourinho has always brought short term success to all the clubs he’s managed, but has yet to stay at a club for 4 or more season and bring long term success. I really cannot see this changing here. United are a club that value long term management, and Jose won’t be able to do that. United are also a club that value width, and attacking football all year round. As previously mentioned Mourinho prefers to employ a more pragmatic style in his play, and although it’s not particularly boring like Van Gaal’s, it may not satisfy the football United fans want.

Finally Mourinho has a history of not embracing the youth of a club, one of the reasons for his lack of long term success. United have always championed themselves on bringing through youth players, and many have come through this season. The question is will he continue to use these players and bring through his own? I think yes to the former, and no to the latter. Already established stars like Lingard and Rashford will likely be used, but many on the fringes will likely go to waste.

To conclude on the matter, I think Mourinho will bring success to United, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they win a title within 2 years. However there is a clear pattern with Jose’s management, and in 3 years time I could be writing a piece on his new club…