Being a fan of Manchester United used to be easier than this. Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson decided to call it quits, United have limped on, barely managing to hold on to a persistent sense of mediocrity with only an occasional flash of potential. Potential is the critical word here, United have always had potential – from the likes of Chicharito and Welback during the ill-fated reign of David Moyes to Depay and Martial under Van Gaal. But none of them have managed to kick on, some have been moved on and some are likely to move on soon. Young players need time and patience to develop, time some would say United does not have, with the pressure to return to the top of the table. As a fan, I believed in the man Sir Alex had chosen to succeed him and supported David Moyes. I had long thought David Moyes would be a like for like replacement for Sir Alex, however I suppose it was too big a job for him that perhaps came too early.
It was always going to be difficult succeeding Sir Alex, but I don’t think anyone realized the size of the challenge, Sir Alex included. During the final years of Sir Alex’s charge, there were a number of defensive shortcomings beginning to show, problems Sir Alex probably did not have the patience to fix anymore. Taking that into consideration, a higher profile manager would have allowed Manchester United to attract the right kind of players. As things would turn out, Moyes ended up making rushed panicked signings at the end, and since then mistakes have kept on coming. From the toothless tactics of Moyes to the ponderous attitude of Van Gaal. People probably didn’t expect very attacking displays under Mourinho either, and yet it has been Mourinho under whom United has looked more dangerous than ever before. Yes there are still issues with conversion rates, but at times it has felt like better football than the last year of Sir Alex’s rule.
I have always liked Mourinho, right since the fateful day when an ecstatic Mourinho ran down the sidelines at Old Trafford as he celebrated the goal that would knock United out of the Champions League. As an United supporter it was a sad moment, and yet it showed how much more Mourinho’s Porto desired the victory compared to United. They deserved it. And now after three years, United are showing that they want to win again. There is real desire again, and it is showing. Time will tell if it is real development or temporary form. Regardless, it’s fun to watch Manchester United play again. 2017 could indeed be a good year in the life of a Manchester United fan.