‘Typical City’. ‘Everton aren’t we?’ ‘The Liverpool/West Ham Way.’
Fans of each and every football club like to think that there is something special about their beloved which makes them different, and better than everyone else. It’s there, it’s DNA, and if you don’t get it then you simply don’t understand. You’re not doing it right. Go and watch cricket or something.
It’s largely a load of rubbish, obviously, but it’s there and we as fans lap it up. We have to, because what is the point of being a fan otherwise? Again, Lord’s is that way if you’re not on board.
And a lot of this is being pandered to as Manchester United prepare to unfurl the red carpet, release the white smoke and inform the stock market that Jose Mourinho is replacing Louis van Gaal as the club’s new manager.
Two years ago, Van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford as a respected coach, a serial winner and a man who invoked some sort of Jedi mind trick when he brought on Tim Krul for Jasper Cillessen for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica and led the Netherlands to the World Cup semi-finals.
He leaves with his reputation battered and bruised and as something of a laughing stock.
He’s become ‘that weird bloke who fell over that time’ and the person that draws disapproving tuts from Middle England when his face appears on the television. And given how many Manchester United fans come from… okay, okay, you get the point.
We’re told that Van Gaal betrayed United’s principles by not playing attacking football, and again that is true, but that’s not really the point is it?
Van Gaal betrayed United’s principles by not coming anywhere close to winning the Premier League in his two seasons in charge, as well as surrendering meekly in Europe in both the Champions League group stages and in the Europa League – to Liverpool, of all teams.
These are the traditions that United fans hold dearest, and not the way the team plays. That’s why so much of the ‘concern’ over the appointment of Mourinho is nothing more than hot air.
We football fans are a fickle bunch, and you can bet that if the new manager wins United the Premier League in his first season in charge with a flat-back nine and Wayne Rooney flailing about upfront then they’ll be screaming for a knighthood at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese is a serial winner who isn’t satisfied until he has rubbed that success in the faces of a growing list of enemies, and that is exactly what Manchester United need right now. Theirs isn’t a club to be pitied or pandered to, theirs is a club to be envied. They need their swagger back.
Mourinho, all cocksure, arrogant and knowing of his own abilities is the right fit at this point in United’s history, a point where playing attacking football, blooding youngsters or relying on long-held principles is pretty irrelevant.
They need to win again, and they need to clamber back up onto a perch which from which they so enjoyed looking down on everyone.
After his bitter parting of the ways at Chelsea, Mourinho needs that too.
How he goes about achieving it promises to be a fascinating watch, but he’ll try and do it his way, regardless of whatever he’s being told that he ‘should’ do.
The bottom line is that he ‘should’ win. He has to win.
Because with a dwindling prominence in the English and European game, the alternative is no longer available to United.
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