Manchester United fans could be forgiven for assuming that the bad times were over when Jose Mourinho was appointed in May of this year. The Portuguese took over after two years of underachievement under Louis van Gaal was finally brought to an end after the club failed to finish in the top four, and thus missed out Champions League qualification for the second time in three seasons, something unthinkable during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.
Fans appetites were whetted when Mourinho sanctioned deals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mhitaryan, who were all voted as the best player in their respective domestic leagues last season whilst purchasing the promising young talent Eric Bailly. It felt like the former Chelsea boss would be able to hit the ground running and cope with the challenge posed by Manchester City and their appointment of Pep Guardiola, and United did win their first three Premier League games without too much fuss. Of course, it hasn’t been plain sailing since then.
Things took a nasty turn during United’s 1-2 derby defeat to City at the start of September, sparking a run of three consecutive defeats. Wins against Northampton Town in the EFL Cup, Leicester City in the league and Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League helped, but after Sunday’s 4-0 demolition at Stamford Bridge by Mourinho’s former side, United have only recorded one win in six league games. Worse still, against City, Liverpool and Chelsea, three teams expected to challenge for the league title, they have scored once and earned just one solitary point.
Many are alreadying calling for his sack. Some United fans on twitter are already mobilizing other fans of the club for a protest to demand the sack of the former Chelsea man.
There is frustration within the club’s fanbase; big-name players are underperforming, the football is far too similar in intensity to the dark days of Van Gaal’s reign and Mourinho hasn’t brought the consistency or solidity that so many fans expected. In short, he and United need to do better, and quickly.
But of course, the Portuguese manager should still be given time. Bad form or not, United haven’t been cut adrift in the Premier League, and have shown encouraging signs on occasion that they are turning into a capable side. Admittedly, those flashes need to happen each week to convince fans that United have truly turned a corner, but Mourinho is still trying to rebuild a side whose confidence and self-belief were decimated by his predecessor, and it would take a magnificent collapse for United to even consider replacing another manager so quickly. Mourinho is the man that the club wanted, and he needs and deserves time to get things right.