- The Premier League title seems unreachable for Manchester United.
- The Champions League should be now their main target.
- José Mourinho has won it twice and has become a cup-winning manager.
Is not a secret that José Mourinho has become more a cup-winning manager than a league-winning manager. Since he left Inter Milan in 2010 to manage Real Madrid he only won two league titles, one at the Spanish capital in 2012 amidst his brave feud with Pep Guardiola, and one during his ill-fated second spell at Chelsea.
However, in his first season at Manchester United alone he won that same amount of cup trophies, the EFL Cup and the Europa League, securing by winning the latter the Champions League spot that remained elusive via the league.
This season Mourinho might repeat his heroics at Porto where he won the UEFA Cup in 2003 and the main European tournament the following year, only the second manager to achieve it after Liverpool’s legend Bob Paisley did it in 1976 and 1977.
Mourinho’s legacy at Old Trafford will never be compared to that of Paisley at Anfield of course, neither he is demanded the same amount of titles Paisley won in his time, but in his second season in charge at Manchester United the pressure starts building for him to win the important competitions they play in.
Watching Manchester City running away with the Premier League title, Mourinho’s main task right now might be reaching the final that will be played in Kiev in May 26th, a tournament that fits more with his not-playing-not-allowing-to-play style. However, serious continental contenders pose a severe threat for his ambitions.
The first knockout stage draw avoided United big worries in Sevilla, having escaped the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, all second-placed teams in their groups. But if they manage to advance to the last eight, the rival to visit will not be in a warm South Spain location.
Even though the Premier League title seems a lost cause for them, finding momentum and confidence in the domestic competition will undeniably help Manchester United in their European adventures. Football is a very motivational game and even if Manchester City will stay unreachable, acquiring a solid style of play will contribute United players to stay mentally strong to face top continental opposition.
Mourinho is an old fox that knows how to carve his way through the big stages and both the pressure and his own relentless pursuit of success (sometimes he stays only in the pursuit phase) might make United reach again the holy final they only played three times in, but they always emerged victorious from.
Feature by Alejandro Pérez, author of the book “More than 90 minutes”, available here: http://amzn.to/2o0jsSD.