JOSE MOURINHO has had Second Season Syndrome for a while now.
Only for him, rather than SSS meaning a drop in form after overachieving in a first campaign, it’s the season where he makes his move and wins the league.
Can he do it again with United? There’s no reason why not. But what is for sure – he will go about it his way.
Last season there were a lot of complaints about his style of play. But this is Jose Mourinho. That IS his style of play.
In big matches he’s careful and plays on the counter. He’s always been that way.
His Chelsea teams were great on the counter-attack.
People have always been reluctant to praise his sides.
Yet Antonio Conte did exactly the same last season, won the league and everyone was gushing!
Even playing the way he did with United last season, Jose still won two trophies.
And they went on an amazing unbeaten run.
OK, it was not a pretty run but if they could have converted some of those draws into wins they would have been battling for the title.
Pep has a way of playing and don’t ask him to change. Tony Pulis has his way.
It’s the same with Jose. I get annoyed when people say ‘did you see how he played?’ Why are they surprised?
He might tweak his style now and again but essentially it’s his way. It’s not a crime.
And he can turn on the style if he needs to anyway. The task he had to overcome Barcelona when he arrived at Real Madrid in 2010 was a hell of a job.
Barca had an amazing forward line with Messi, Villa, Sanchez and Pedro to choose from but Real amassed 100 points and won the league by nine points.
They scored 121 goals – the most in the history of La Liga. Yet, they were still regarded as a team that did not play fancy football.
They were thought of as not as flamboyant as Barca. But look at the numbers.
Time will tell if he has the armoury to do the same with United.
He will miss Zlatan Ibrahimovich. He’s a big character, charismatic, scored goals but was also important as a leader, as a pro others can look up to.
He had that Man United vibe.
And it shouldn’t fall entirely on Romelu Lukaku to replace him. Others have to help like Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.
But, of course, people will look to Lukaku. Can he answer the call? I think so.
He’s stepped up every time. When he was at West Brom he was superb and then he smashed records at Everton. He has shown he is not a one-season wonder. He’s ticked every box.
Now he needs to prove he can now play when a team sits deep, when they are bang up for it because they are playing against United – no disrespect to Everton. He needs to grab that important away goal in Europe when United are struggling.
He’s still young with lots to learn. I wasn’t the same player at 29 as I was at 24. But I am confident in him.
Nemanja Matic is a good signing for United too. It’s great when there’s an understanding, love, respect between a boss and a player. Jose clearly likes him –he’s signed him three times!
And both Lukaku and Matic know the league. That’s key. You don’t have to wait months for them to bed in, there are no worries about can they handle the winter months and the rush of fixtures.
My one question about United is where does Rashford fit in?
After bursting on to the scene under Louis Van Gaal, he waited patiently last season and then took his chance when Ibra was injured. He will now find himself out wide again or on the bench.
For a young talent to improve he needs to be on the field. What would have happened to Michael Owen if he’d had to wait? Or me? You need game time. I hope Mourinho can find a way – but that’s why being a manager is so difficult.
Everything looked rosy at Spurs at the end of last season.
Yes, they just missed out on the title but they have a young squad, lots of talent, all on long contracts, a great manager, a new stadium being built.
But there are now signs that all is not well in paradise.
Kyle Walker has left, Danny Rose is not happy and Eric Dier has been rumoured to want a transfer too.
It just shows to be a top, top club you need to pay top, top wages. And to win trophies. And Spurs haven’t been able to offer either of those.
Money is bound to be tight – they have a new stadium to fund. I know how hard that hit us at Arsenal.
Having said all that, I really like the way Mauricio Pochettino has handled the situation.
He admits they need players in, that they need competition so players aren’t resting on their laurels, especially with the Champions League to deal with.
But he is not panicking and throwing his toys out of the pram.
And that sends a good message to the players he has: ‘I trust you.’
It would be easy for him to moan about money. Yes, he is putting subtle pressure on chairman Daniel Levy but still being upbeat.
That positive outlook helps a club move forward. He’s thinking about what he has, not what he doesn’t have. That’s healthy.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t buy. They should – as Poch admits.
But one thing that gives Spurs a huge advantage over the other top six sides is that today he can put out pretty much the same team that has played the last two or three seasons. That’s a big boost.