Manchester United: After Busy Preseason, Jose Mourinho Seems to Finally Know His Best Team

Jose Mourinho
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, center, at the Philip II Arena, Skopje, Macedonia, August 8. Dan Mullan/Getty

For Jose Mourinho, his second season at a football club has always brought success. Twelve months with a new team and Mourinho has consistently proven himself to be the master at figuring out where weaknesses lie and how to turn it into a winning machine.

In his second year at Porto, Mourinho announced himself on the world’s footballing stage by delivering the Champions League to the Portuguese club in the 2003-04 season, earning himself the Chelsea job. He won the Premier League title in both his first and second season there. His next job, in Italy, saw Mourinho win a coveted treble, including the Champions League, in 2010, his second year with Inter Milan.

On to Spain and the trend continued, where Mourinho ended Pep Guardiola’s domination with Barcelona by winning the 2012 La Liga title in his second season with Real Madrid. Mourinho returned to England, again with Chelsea, and took 12 months to bring together his title winning team, going to on to win the 2015 Premier League in his second season back at Stamford Bridge.

And now, after a season to settle in at Old Trafford, Manchester United has high expectations. The club believes Mourinho is the man to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson four years ago.

Despite a rocky start, Mourinho has put in the foundations. United lifted three trophies last season—Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League—to create a winning mentality within his squad. But Mourinho knows United demands more sought after silverware.

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He has been given the funds to inject quality into his team, to address the problems David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failed to correct. Last summer, Mourinho spent around £150 million (about $195 million), bringing in Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, for a then-world-record fee. And he has already matched that amount this summer.

With three weeks still remaining of the summer window, Mourinho has three new signings and wants at least one more. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku followed Swedish center-back Victor Lindelof was followed to Old Trafford, and Nemanja Matic was reunited with Mourinho from Chelsea.

Matic, the big Serbian midfielder, has fitted seamlessly into the United midfield. His presence will allow Pogba license to get further up the field, joining the attacks without worrying about protecting the defense.

The French midfielder will be looking to link up with Lukaku, his close friend. Lukaku guarantees goals for Mourinho, having been second highest scorer in the Premier League last season for Everton. His coach will be expecting the Belgian striker to deliver just as Zlatan Ibrahimovic did last season, and he is already doing so.

On Tuesday night, Lukaku scored in the Super Cup final against Real Madrid, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the might of the Spanish champion. He was also on target during the club’s preseason tour of the United States.

Mourinho’s team enjoyed a good summer, with the only downside coming in a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona. But Mourinho will know that the results were unimportant; creating the spirit within his team, building a mentality, and emulating what he has been doing for so many years was the purpose.

The real signs of how serious United will be this season will come on Sunday afternoon when West Ham is the visitor to Old Trafford. Then, Mourinho will know whether his work is, once again, on the right track.