First, let me say that I haven’t written in a while because it seems I’m more prolific when I’m angry.
As United struggled during the Moyes and Van Gaal eras I was furious most of the time, and writing about it seemed quite cathartic.
And I’ve really had very little to complain about this season, as I feel confident we are finally moving in the right direction again.
I’m in the camp of people who believed that Jose Mourinho was the right man for this job. And based on what we’re seeing of late, even those of you who were adamantly outspoken on the matter must surely be feeling like you have gotten it wrong.
This is not me wagging the ‘I told you so’ finger, believe me. Even in this day and age I still find it refreshing to take in other people’s views when they are different from my own – despite this flexibility becoming more and more unpopular.
And no, I’m not holding up the EFL Cup as a justification of my argument – although I do believe that winning a competition is always better than not.
But the win serves to confirm several of the things that are now going right at the club. To wit:
- Getting a result when we may not have deserved one – This was a hallmark of the Fergie era. When the other team gets tactics and personnel spot on, but a bit of luck or a bit of magic turns the result in our favour anyway. It’s happened more than once this season, and for it to happen in a cup final is the most MUFC thing I know of.
- It’s hard to get into the starting XI – Here is where previous regimes were entirely too soft. Hell, this happened more than a few times in the last few seasons with Sir Alex. Too many players were complacent and allowed to start week in and week out, regardless of performances. Mourinho is a way better man manager than I would ever have given him credit for. Whether you like his decisions or not, he continues to sit down players who don’t do what he asks – not to mention those with big reputations that simply aren’t delivering the goods. Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are all examples of this.
- Winning is cultural – Clubs like United need serial winners like Mourinho and Zlatan. These figures understand that you’re only as good as the trophy case demonstrates. Winning is not simply being on the books at a club like United [right, Memphis?], winning is done on the pitch – not the barber shop or on Instagram [looking at you Pogba and Lingard]. Comparing Zlatan to Cantona is entirely correct for me because he is showing many of these players that it’s results that matter at a club like this.
- The work never finishes – Teams become dynasties by always improving, always thinking of the next season and never being sentimental. Two of the top performers in this current side [Carrick and Zlatan] were born during the Sexton/Atkinson era. They will need to be replaced. Our record goal scorer is clearly on his way out as well when previous managers let him keep playing. We can’t be surprised when he goes. We need only offer a sincere thank you and move on.
So there you have it. A happy post for a change! Because winning this trophy is a stepping stone as I see it. This manager and this club are both serial winners of things, and I know he’s already plotting how to win the next trophy. And the next one…