Predicting Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge of Man Utd
12 months with The Special One
The worst-kept secret in world sport has finally been confirmed: Jose Mourinho will be the new manager of Manchester United. The appointment may mean the end of Man Utd’s lofty ideals and history of exciting, attacking football but after two years of sideways passing under Louis “The Thumb” Van Gaal, it would be hard to find anyone stood in the Sir Alex Ferguson stand who won’t be welcoming the Special One with open arms.
The next season promises to bring plenty of excitement to Manchester, as Mourinho tries to rebuild the Greatest Club In The World (TM) and get the better of his old rival Pep Guardiola, who steps into the dug-out across town at Manchester City. But how will he get on?
The dust has barely settled on this season’s Premier League campaign and change is already in the air in Manchester. The Red Devils announce the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer. Zlatan tells the press: “Mourinho is a great man, we understand each other very well. I know we will both make Manchester very successful.”
Mourinho laughs off suggestions the transfer will limit first-team opportunities for Marcus Rashford and says he has learned from the mistakes he made at Chelsea. He says: “If before I was the Special One, or the Happy One, now I am the Wise One.”
England get knocked out in the round of 16 at Euro 2016 after Wayne Rooney damages his cruciate ligaments, an injury that rules him out for most of the upcoming season. Mourinho, in an appearance as a TV pundit during the tournament, heaps criticism on the Spanish referee for not protecting his player. He says: “In big matches, you need big referees and this man is not one. If you look at the other game today, Mark Clattenburg refereed and he was fantastic, no injuries. This other referee though is a disgrace.”
Ryan Giggs leaves Manchester United to pursue a career in management.
United fail in an audacious £200m bid for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mourinho moves out of his recently-purchased residence in Manchester’s Northern Quarter after realising his new address would have meant sharing a postcode with Guardiola. He decides to relocate his family to outside of Manchester and commute in.
United fail in an audacious £180m bid for Neymar.
Manchester United face Manchester City in a pre-season friendly. Both Mourinho and Guardiola down-play the match’s significance to the press. Man City win 2-0 and no Man Utd player is let out of the dressing room for the two hours after full-time. Mourinho suggests after the game that some of his players will have to do better or they won’t stay at Man Utd. He also accidentally calls Borthwick-Jackson Jackson-Borthwick.
United sign Joao Moutinho for £53m.
Super-agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include Mourinho, moves into an office at Man Utd’s training complex. Man Utd insist Mendes has no influence over their transfer activity.
United re-sign Bebe for £2.5m from Benfica.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores on the opening day of the season away at Stoke. He smugly tells reporters afterwards: “For years the English said I couldn’t do it and I wasn’t any good but now look at me. I can even score at Stoke.”
Juan Mata leaves Man Utd on Deadline Day, signing for PSG. Hours later, Man Utd proudly announce a new official foot deodoriser partner and embarrassingly forget to remove Mata from the promotional materials. The billboard of Mata holding his boots by his face in one hand while pinching his nose over the other is a particular embarrassment.
Man Utd lose at Old Trafford for the first time this season as Ibrahimovic fails to score for the first time in six games. Mourinho later blames the result on a knock the Swede picked up in training the day before.
Two days after the defeat, Man Utd fire their physio.
For a Europa League group match away to APOEL Nicosia, Mourinho lines Man Utd up with two holding midfielders. They manage just two shots on target all match and have to settle for a 0-0 draw. The result leaves them top of the group by just one point. Mourinho describes the match as an “important result” and cites an overly-demanding schedule as the reason for the poor performance.
The month ends with a controversial 1-0 win away at Swansea, where Ashley Young is accused of diving to win a penalty. Mourinho calls the allegations “sickening” and says there is a conspiracy to undermine his players.
The first Manchester derby of the season finishes with three red cards and a 1-1 draw. Mourinho criticises Mark Clattenburg’s performance after the match, though the press accuse him of trying to distract from Ibrahimovic’s failure to score for the eighth game in a row.
Despite Ibrahimovic’s loss of form, Marcus Rashford is yet to make an appearance this season. Rumours begin to circulate on Twitter that Rashford has been dropped as punishment for sexting Mourinho’s daughter.
Ibrahimovic finds form again, scoring a hat-trick against Arsenal at the Emirates. Arsenal fans call for Wenger to be sacked after failing to sign a striker better than Olivier Giroud for yet another season.
Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge ends in a 1-0 defeat. After the game, Mourinho gives a heavily sarcastic press conference in which he congratulates the Chelsea side for “remembering how to play football at last”. Paul Scholes appears in the BT Sport studio and lambasts Mourinho for not playing “the United way”.
Man Utd lose again, this time to Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City. Mourinho refuses to accept suggestions from the press that Ranieri is a better manager than him, pointing to Leicester’s failure to qualify from their Champions League group as proof Ranieri will “never win anything big again”.
Ryan Giggs is sacked as manager of Bury after only two wins in 17 games.
Mourinho bows to mounting pressure to blood some of Man Utd’s youngsters and gives Borthwick-Jackson and five other academy graduates a start away at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup. After the game finishes 1-1, Mourinho insists the result has only vindicated his decision to not give the youngsters more of a chance.
United fail in an audacious £230m bid for Gareth Bale.
Ryan Giggs re-joins Man Utd as a coach of their academy side. He insists he still wants to be a manager one day, but is now focused on using his experiences at Bury to become a better coach away from the glare of the media.
United re-sign Angel di Maria for £92m.
Bebe is named on the substitutes bench for the semi-final second leg of the Capital One Cup, reminding United fans that he still exists.
Manchester United go top after Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores another hat-trick against Arsenal. Gunners fans call on Wenger to stand down at the end of the season, especially as the defeat follows a first-leg loss to Barcelona in the Champions League knockout stages. Giroud misses a sitter in both matches.
Marcus Rashford goes on an emergency loan to Preston.
Man Utd win the Capital One Cup, beating Southampton 1-0 in the final. Henry Winter describes the match in his report for The Times as “obdurate, and at times antithetical to the Busby tradition”.
Manchester United slip from top spot after a 3-1 defeat away to Manchester City in the second Manchester derby. Mourinho spent the build-up to the game refusing to say anything in his press conferences apart from “We will win”. Afterwards, he calls the result “fake”, says the sending off of Fellaini for punching David Silva was “a travesty” and calls on Manchester United fans to riot in the streets.
Mourinho’s Man Utd side beat Leicester City 3-0, leading Mourinho to sneer dismissively at Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. “It is no surprise a man who cannot beat the Faroe Islands also cannot beat us. They are a mid-table side and we are future champions. I was never worried about this result, or about him beating me.”
Marcus Rashford is spotted buying a prawn mayo sandwich in Macclesfield.
Wayne Rooney returns from injury at last and plays 60 minutes for the Under 21s. Mourinho says afterwards that if Rooney had been fit all season they would be finishing the season as champions, rather than in third place.
On the last day of the season, Man Utd play a Tottenham side who can pip Man City to the title if they win and Man City fail to win away at Stoke. Mourinho names a starting XI comprised completely of academy players and Tottenham win the game 4-1.
However, Man City win 5-0 away at Stoke, despite torrential rain, to win the league. Man Utd are fined by the FA for not naming a full-strength side and football fans around the world agree to stop saying “But can he do it on a rainy day at Stoke?”
Mourinho says he has no regrets from the season and pledges to win the quadruple next year, including the Champions League which they qualify for by beating Sevilla in the Europa League final. Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays his last game for the club and receives a standing ovation when he is substituted in the 72nd minute, the highlight of which is the four specially-trained peregrine falcons which swoop down to rest on Ibrahmovic’s arms which he holds out, Christ-like, as he walks off the pitch.