What Importance Does José Mourinho Place On Winning The Europa League With Manchester United?

Posted: September 14, 2016 in Chelsea, European Football, Football, Manchester United, Opinion
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In the not too distant past, José Mourinho would have poured scorn on this competition. He always saw it as a tournament for losers, as a punishment for not being good enough in your own league and, therefore, confined to the basement of European football to compete with teams whose names are difficult to pronounce from countries which are difficult to find.

This was a view shared, strangely enough, by his great friend and hero Sir Alex Ferguson whose own journey into the Europa League was a one-time experience and very short-lived.

The difference between the two is, as I am sure Mourinho would point out, that Alex Ferguson was the manager who took United into the Europa League whereas Mourinho cannot be held responsible for that slipping of standards.

The new Mourinho, however, is different. Ever since he became the manager of Manchester United he is a changed man. He speaks respectfully of United’s history, the size of the club and the importance of the team over any individual, surprisingly, even including himself in this summation.

People always had the impression, when he was at Chelsea, that he was the main man. The feeling was that Chelsea wouldn’t be where they were if he hadn’t been in charge to get them off the ground. Obviously this was an opinion that Mourinho did absolutely nothing to discourage, probably because it was an opinion he shared. There is also, possibly, an element of truth in it.

Since arriving at Old Trafford he has toned it down a little. Whether or not this lasts remains to be seen. He has already accused some of the players of not following his instructions during the first half of the Manchester derby. This airing of views in public contributed to his dismissal from Chelsea although, admittedly, there was quite a bit more to it than just that night at Leicester.

He has also been quite quick to play down his comments by saying that the occasion and size of the game got to those players which was the real cause of them disobeying orders. In other words, they were confused by an occasion they couldn’t handle. Having watched the game I have to agree that both Mkhitaryan and Lindgard seemed to be completely off the pace of the game and it wasn’t a surprise to see them replaced at half time.

This change in character the public is seeing in Mourinho also manifested itself when he said that Manchester United would always try to win any tournament in which they were competing. This statement alone deflected any thoughts that he may not think very highly of the Europa League. The truth is that he may not think very highly of the Europa League but he will still try and win it. One shouldn’t expect any tears though if he gets knocked out quite early and has to concentrate all his efforts on the Premier League.

In fairness to Mourinho it would be quite awkward for him to say anything other than he wants to win the competition. It is mainly thanks to him that Chelsea are not competing in Europe at all this season, a fact which, conversely, could very well aid them in their quest to win the Premier League title. He could hardly say, having failed to lead Chelsea anywhere near Europe, that he was disappointed to only be in the Europa League.

He hasn’t yet publicly thanked Louis van Gaal for his opportunity in Europe, as he did when he won the Community Shield due to van Gaal having won the FA Cup. It is possible we will have to wait and see if United win it. Maybe then, and only then, will he thank the Dutchman. I suppose it is a little silly to thank somebody else if you don’t win a competition!

So we will see on Thursday night whether or not Jose Mourinho is taking the Europa League seriously. The team selection should give us a clue. There will be changes due to injury and loss of form but how many? Realistically, if this was an important league game I would expect a maximum of three changes from the team which started the game against Manchester City. If any more than that are rested, dropped or injured then the impression would have to be that the Europa League is a competitive training session for however long it lasts.

Either way, if it results in Manchester United winning the Premier League title next May, José Mourinho will be a hero and the Europa League will be long forgotten, unless he wins it of course, you just never know!

  1. RedMe says:

    If you think Mourinho is responsible for Chelsea’s last season failure, why couldn’t the famous Guus not get them to perform either? And OK good start for Conte, but I don’t think it will last.
    The group that Manchester United is in is a group with teams that have made the champions league before so winning that group will not be that easy. For the changes if he leaves Lingard out of it we are OK.


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