“We don’t want his type at this club.” So said Sir Bobby Charlton when it was suggested Jose Mourinho replace Sir Alex Ferguson when the latter retired at Old Trafford.
Sir Bobby’s word counted for a great deal at the club back then. Perhaps less so now.
Jose Mourinho is about to become the new manager of Manchester United.
I had a bet on him to get the job months ago. Like the man himself, I’ve had to be patient. I knew he was in negotiations with the owners of the club. But then so did lots of people.
Mourinho wanted to take charge much earlier than this week. He wanted the club to have him replace Louis Van Gaal soon after Mourinho left Chelsea. Jose didn’t want the break from the game I suggested he needed after the way things ended for him at Stamford Bridge.
He has had to wait to take charge and will be all the more eager to hit the ground running this summer. He’s already talked to his friend Zlatan Ibrahimovic about signing for Man Utd. That would be his Didier Drogba like signing for United.
There has been some sympathy for FA Cup winning manager Louis Van Gaal. True, the fact that the world and their wives knew Mourinho would be replacing him is yet another example how business is conducted while Ed Woodward is executive vice-chairman.
Mourinho and Van Gaal go way back. They worked together at Barcelona in 1997 and, although long time rivals for the top job at Manchester United, they remain friends.
Louis Van Gaal would not want people to feel sorry for him. As he was very fast to say after his team beat Crystal Palace at Wembley, he’s now won domestic Cups in four countries. And he leaves with a pay off. So hold back the tears for LVG.
I happen to think he is one of the rudest men in football and, personally, I am pleased to see the back of him. He pushed and shoved camera crews who were simply doing their job, he answered fair questions in a brusque, rude and arrogant fashion. And, more importantly, he turned Manchester United into a boring side to watch. I’m not a United supporter but for my generation of football fan, that’s criminal.
Whether or not the football will be any more entertaining under Jose Mourinho only time will tell. We should not forget that Chelsea fans complained how boring the football was that they were watching in the last years of his first reign at Stamford Bridge.
But Jose is likely to sign some exciting players. I hope he also encourages the local youngsters who have come to the fore at United. He has a mixed record with talented, young, home grown players. He sent some out on loan during his last years at Chelsea.
One thing we do know. With his old enemy Pep Guardiola managing at Manchester City, the rivalry between the two clubs will be all the more passionate.