Making Jose Mourinho Manchester United manager would be a terrible idea

Jose Mourinho is very good at what he does, and what he does can be essentially reduced to two words: Win now.

Since 2002 Mourinho has had five managerial stints at different clubs and has never made it to a fourth season in any of them. He’s also never failed to win the league at any of those clubs, and on three occasions, his teams have won the Champions League. Astonishing statistics not to be dismissed.

His formula for success has become clear: He breezes into the club on a wave of confidence, tightens up the defense, adds some steel to the midfield, and turns the heat up as far as it’ll go. He pushes his players past their breaking point and then further still, always demanding more. It works in the short term, but there’s always a regression. Players — people — simply can’t push themselves that hard for that long without giving themselves any time to breath.

Mourinho doesn’t have to deal with that part, of course, because he’s usually off trophy-hunting at a different club by this point. But as he’s been trying to prove that he can oversee a dynasty rather than a success over a short period of time, he’s been forced to confront the downsides of his method. And when they do inevitably arise, Mourinho shirks the blame

Mourinho was fired as Chelsea manager last week after orchestrating one of the most catastrophic early-season meltdowns in history. His players clearly exhausted, Mourinho accused them of betraying him, berated them in public, spoke of referees’ conspiracies against him and threw every other kind of punch imaginable. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich tried to stand by him and deserves credit for it, but in the end, Mourinho had ensured there was no way he could.

Now, after passing on the opportunity to hire Mourinho a few years ago, Manchester United are considering making a move for the former Chelsea man to replace Louis Van Gaal, its current manager who is overseeing a pretty substantial downturn in form.
ORG XMIT: ILNH103 Manchester United fans cheer as they watch while the soccer team holds a practice in Bridgeview, Ill., Wednesday, July 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Mourinho’s past success is alluring to Manchester United, as is his superstar status, and his record essentially guarantees he’ll win something should he go there. But winning with Mourinho comes at a cost.

Mourinho’s strategy is to unify his team by claiming there are conspiracies all around him, which will do do huge damage to one of the most recognizable brands in the world — just as it did with Real Madrid. Legends will feel slighted by the way Mourinho elevates himself above the club. Fans will resent his defense-first, counter-attacking style of soccer, and they’ll detest his refusal to play young players.

Mourinho brings success in the short term, but he’ll do it scorching the earth behind him. It’s simply not worth it. Louis Van Gaal may not be the right manager for Manchester United, but Jose Mourinho is almost certainly the wrong one.

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