MANCHESTER United have announced former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho as their new manager on a three-year deal.
News of the change unofficially emerged moments after Jesse Lingard scored an extra-time winner to end 12 years of waiting for FA Cup glory on Saturday evening.
The unpopular Louis van Gaal departed on Monday while question marks remain over his assistant – and United legend – Ryan Giggs having been offered a smaller coaching role under Mourinho.
Mourinho said: “To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game. It is a club known and admired throughout the world.”
I have always felt an affinity with Old Trafford; it has hosted some important memories for me in my career and I have always enjoyed a rapport with the United fans. I’m looking forward to being their manager and enjoying their magnificent support in the coming years.”
The club’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, hailed the move and described the Portuguese as “quite simply the best manager in the game today.”
Having spent £250m in the last summer window, a failure to secure Champions League football for next season was ultimately what cost Van Gaal his job.
Mourinho is far from the most popular coach in the land, he’s a serial winner and ‘The Special One’ is synonymous with success wherever he has managed.
That Old Trafford touchline run for Porto, the Camp Nou heroics with Inter, all show that Mourinho, as the old adage goes, can convince players to run through walls for him.
TIMELINE: A look at Mourinho’s career so far…
One of the key differences between Mourinho and Van Gaal is that one relies heavily on his touchline and media demeanour whilst the other is rarely lifted off his seat.
Manchester United fans want the passion, the drive, the madness – almost – that Mourinho provides and Van Gaal’s touchline dive against Arsenal aside, fans can expect a return to the frenetic touchline behaviour for the new manager.
Yet, Van Gaal’s faith in youth products such as Marcus Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Jesse Lingard and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson should be heralded – partly because his successor never put trust in young players during his two spells at Stamford Bridge.
With a rumoured budget of £200m this summer and a number of big names including talismanic Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Antoine Griezmann linked, fears among some fan circles are that Mourinho is too stubborn to embrace the club’s ethos of blooding youngsters.
REACTION: How Twitter has reacted to Mourinho’s appointment…
Should have been the case in 2013 when Fergie, Mourinho's so-called friend, pushed for Moyes. https://t.co/Ze57EyncPG
— Dale O'Donnell (@ODonnellDale) May 27, 2016
José Mourinho is the first manager since SAF to truly understand Man United. No aspirations to be like #MCFC, no downplaying expectations.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) May 27, 2016
So Mourinho sides have scored 1,327 goals in 645 matches at 2.06 goals per game. Not exactly ‘boring football’ is it?
— James Stretford (@Jamesstretford) May 27, 2016
The conundrum is that fans want instant success whilst also wanting that success with the youngsters – a hark back to the Class of ’92 side.
Mourinho, more than any other manager to line up in the Premier League in 2016/17, brings success at any cost; youngsters won’t get shafted out on loan to the levels seen at Chelsea but he is unlikely to build a team around them all.
Fosu-Mensah and Luke Shaw have all the attributes at full-back that Mourinho loves. Marauding runs forward at pace whilst both seem perfectly adept at the defensive side of the game.
Shaw was rumoured to be a Chelsea target when Mourinho was in charge for the second spell and had it not been for the horrific injury sustained away at PSV Eindhoven, Shaw was set to have an excellent campaign at left-back.
Anthony Martial will undoubtedly have a big part to play again next season whether that be on the wing or through the middle. The young Frenchman dazzled in his first season in England and under Mourinho, with a licence to have more freedom, could reach new heights next term.
There is an expectation that players like Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay will also kick on under the Portuguese after stuttering spells in their first season at the club.
Former Southampton midfield enforcer Schneiderlin resembles the holding midfielder Mourinho builds teams around. Nemanja Matic at Chelsea was a key figure in their last title win and the Serbian has even been linked with a switch such is Mourinho’s affection for his abilities.
Depay has arguably struggled the most of all Van Gaal’s signings despite entering the club with the most hype and promise. An excellent World Cup had fans dreaming of the ‘next Ronaldo’ but Van Gaal’s regimented passing game could not accommodate Depay’s blistering pace out wide, with the much-slower Juan Mata shunted out to the right flank.
LINE-UP: A look at how Mourinho’s first United side may look…
Much like the man that is taking over at United’s noisy neigbours, Pep Guardiola, in Mourinho United have a manager that attracts players despite the Reds’ lack of Champions League football.
He’s burned bridges at every club and Juan Mata will no doubt be sweating that his time at Old Trafford is up after Mourinho sold the Spanish playmaker to the Reds in 2013 for £37m.
But had a change not been made and the board entrusted Van Gaal for the final year of his contract, rumours suggest that club player of the year David De Gea was ready to angle for a move away whilst long-serving professional Michael Carrick remains without a new contract offer.
Gone will be the strict, regimented regime in place under the Dutchman whereby players were simply not allowed to shoot first time in the box; had Lingard followed the ‘philosophy’ he would not have scored that sensational volleyed winner at Wembley against Palace just days ago.
INFOGRAPH: Mourinho’s career in numbers…
With everything from ‘horny’ players to a ‘sex masochism’ it was far from dull for fans and the media in the two years of Louis Van Gaal, but Mourinho is a wounded animal ready to fight back after the recent debacle at Chelsea.
With the scars almost healed he could be about to, not only show his old side what they are missing, but also ruin Guardiola’s English debut.
A short-term fix? Potentially. Less faith in youth? Again, that could well be the case. But Mourinho is exactly what he says on the tin – controversial, high-profile, passionate and crucially incredibly successful.
One thing is certain: it won’t be dull with The Special One in charge…
By Nathan Salt