The partnership of Manchester United and Jose Mourinho was always likely to happen at some point during the Portuguese’s eventful management career. Mourinho had often spoken of his respect for the Red Devils whilst Chelsea boss and he was on the shortlist to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson when the legendary Scot retired in 2013.
David Moyes got the job on Ferguson’s recommendation and therefore, the ‘Special One’ returned to Stamford Bridge for a second spell which brought another Premier League title to west London. However, Chelsea’s 2015-2016 meltdown led to Jose’s sacking before Christmas. He was quickly linked to the United post where Louis van Gaal had lost the support of the fans and evidently, the board.
Although he won the FA Cup in May 2016, van Gaal was shifted aside fairly brutally and Mourinho was appointed as his successor. Could one of the best in the management game become a success at the most successful English club in the history of football?
It wasn’t to be. There was a League Cup and UEFA Europa League double in 2017 and a distant runner-up finish to Manchester City a year later – United’s best league finish since Ferguson’s retirement. However, by summer 2018 – a real discord was evident between Mourinho and chief executive Ed Woodward.
His desperate pleas to improve his defence fell on deaf ears and his pre-season predictions made for grim reading with supporters. Couple that with his failure to get the best out of Alexis Sanchez and the breakdown in trust with Paul Pogba and Mourinho was on a ticket heading out of The Theatre of Dreams.
Clubs like Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur had overtaken United as Manchester City’s closest pursuers. There were more negative headlines coming out of press conferences, with tough criticism aimed at the likes of Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford. The football was also joyless for the fans who demand their team to attack at all costs.
Two days after a 3-1 defeat at Anfield, Mourinho was sacked and Manchester United were looking for their fourth permanent manager in just over five-and-a-half years. The ‘dream’ partnership had turned into a nightmare for both parties.
After a brief spell working as a pundit for Sky Sports, Mourinho returned to the dugout in November 2019, succeeding Mauricio Pochettino as manager of Tottenham.