The treble may be unorthodox, but Jose Mourinho has delivered trophies to Manchester United in his first season. There are more to come.
A moment before lifting the Europa League trophy at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, José Mourinho had his three fingers up in the air and was telling his players to do the same. Showing the world what he had achieved in his first season at Manchester United: winning the Community Shield, the EFL Cup and the Europa League, with Champions League football next season.
A modern media genius, underlying his personal treble this season. A non-traditional one, but an important one nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong: winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League is something else. But José wanted to respond to the heavy criticism that accompanied him throughout his inaugural season at Manchester United. And did it in style, with a fundamental Europa League win.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 26, 2017
His three fingers are more than just appearance. Winning silverware is always important. Clubs like Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham haven’t won any this year. Arsenal could do so in the FA Cup final, but won’t be in the Champions League next year. José will. The fact winning the Europa League guarantees the best European competition gives added substance to the mini treble.
The criticism stems from the money spent in the transfer window. And fair enough, United have splashed out big sums. $244 million, to be precise. And the Red Devils should probably be playing better. Their football – in a true Mourinho fashion – is efficient though, and a season like this is the best possible to build on and grow from.
After all, Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp all spent big sums, without winning trophies. The former Barcelona coach has had a very disappointing season, having spent more than anyone in the league but at least grabbed a top four spot along with Liverpool, but unlike Arsenal.
Dab + billy dance = 🏆😁🔥 pic.twitter.com/0OL2VAKQlM
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) May 24, 2017
Spending is key in football, but to spend well is another matter. United have bought the right players for this team, on evaluation after 12 months of football. Even Leicester City spent $86 million last summer, but clearly selecting the wrong players.
Mourinho’s attitude of creating conflicts to strengthen his teams mentally has worked this way since the start, battling criticism and the media as a strategy to protect his players. Paul Pogba’s first words after winning the Europa League were roughly: “We’ve been criticised, here is the trophy”. He learnt from his manager.
After all, let’s not forget the bulk of players who have won the title with Antonio Conte this year did the same with Mourinho only two-years-ago. A fact that has been brushed aside by too many people.
Mourinho might have spent too much, Manchester United might not be playing exciting football, Pogba might not be scoring as many goals as expected, but look at the trophy cabinet and look at where the Red Devils will be in September and you can only compliment the team and the club and consider the possible growth too.
Under Mourinho, United piled together three trophies and the ticket to be in the Champions League group stages for next season. With another big spending summer approaching, United could be back in the elite of football within 12 months.