This week Jose Mourinho has started work as United’s third manager in the last four years. He announced his arrival in Manchester in his own now preferred fashion by posting a short video of himself stepping off a train from London on his Instagram account; his statement was clear……..I am here.
A couple of days on and it was time for his official presentation as manager, his first press conference and detailed interview with mutv. As football fans in England having seen Mourinho manage at Chelsea in two spells we know a lot about Jose and much of what was on offer today was wholy predictable. The main question then is did we learn anything new? The answer is yes in a couple of areas.
Firstly Mourinho clearly feels the need to put the last few years of United behind us. This is a new start so he named checked philosophy outlining the difference between his and Van Gaal’s. He set out that he wants possession but not for statistical superiority and that as he sees it he wants more vertical and less lateral play. He also outlined that he is a manager who values specialists rather than ”multi-functional” players as Van Gaal would put it. In his press conference he stated that he isn’t a manager to hide behind philosophy, a subtle dig.
Following on from these comments Mourinho also set out his preferences in respect of Wayne Rooney’s role in the side and how it differs from van Gaal’s. This suggests that in spite of much recent speculation as to whether Rooney has a place in the new manager’s plans he clearly does have a future at the club. For Mourinho Rooney is a forward, a number 9 or a 9 and a half or a 10, not a 6 or even an 8, in other words not a midfield player. It seems that Rooney will play close to the opposition’s goal as his ability to score is valued above his ability to make a pass. In his mutv interview a comment that the average age of Rashford and Ibrahimovic is equal to the perfect age for a striker, whilst a seemingly contrived analysis may suggest that United might play with two central strikers. Does this point towards a 4-4-2, potentially with a diamond?
Perhaps the most interesting thing we learnt today was around the issue of transfers however. Mourinho outlined a clear transfer strategy, something that will no doubt be reassuring for United fans as it hasn’t always been clear that United have had a planned strategy in recent years.
Jose outlined that he intends to bring in four players to help balance the squad. He inferred that United have secured three of those four players already but United’s press officer Karen Shotbolt clarified that officially two had been confirmed. Jose then again referred to three signings; clearly a third is imminent. Mourinho set out that he hoped the four planned signings would be completed early allowing the club to then operate later in the transfer window from a position of strength if other player appear needed as the pre-season preparations progress.
Jose has clearly hit the ground running and his demeanour whilst serious suggests he is both enjoying and relishing the task.