Five challenges facing Jose Mourinho at Manchester United
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 26/05/16 5:58pm
As Manchester United appoint Jose Mourinho as Louis van Gaal's successor, we look at five challenges awaiting the former Chelsea manager at Old Trafford...
Unite and excite the supporters
Mourinho's first task will be to unite the disgruntled supporters who booed Van Gaal at Old Trafford and Wembley last week. The FA Cup triumph ensured the Dutchman's tenure ended with silverware, but it will not be remembered happily overall - and many fans made sure he knew it.
This season's total of 49 league goals was their lowest in more than a quarter of a century, and Van Gaal's conservative style was a source of frustration throughout his two-year reign. For Mourinho, improved results are vital to lift the mood at Old Trafford, but he is also under pressure to return to the exciting, attacking football Manchester United fans long for.
That approach is hardly what arch-pragmatist Mourinho is known for, but an injection of speed and excitement would go a long way to winning over his doubters, and he can point to his record-breaking 2011/12 campaign in charge of Real Madrid - in which they scored 121 goals on their way to the title - as compelling evidence of an often overlooked inclination to attack.
Nevertheless, Mourinho's reputation as a defensive coach means the doubts that led United to overlook him three years ago might resurface if entertainment levels do not dramatically improve next season.
Spend wisely in the transfer market
Mourinho must also oversee a dramatic improvement in the transfer market. The club ploughed around a quarter of a billion pounds into player recruitment during Van Gaal's tenure, but Anthony Martial is one of only two or three big-money signings to have lived up to their billing.
The £59.7m purchase of Angel Di Maria stands out as the most expensive disappointment, and the squad is packed with recently-recruited players who have failed to meet expectations. Mourinho must decide on which underperforming players to persist with, and he must also invest in the right reinforcements.
The Portuguese will be heavily backed by United in the transfer market, and there are question marks all over the team, with a lack of depth in central defence and a shortage of attacking flair among the most notable weaknesses.
Sky sources say United are interested in signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while newspaper reports have identified Everton's John Stones, Valencia midfielder Andre Gomes and Juventus striker Alvaro Morata as potential targets. Super-agent Jorge Mendes is likely to be heavily involved in shaping Mourinho's new-look squad.
Convince De Gea to stay
United's new boss must do everything in his power to keep hold of David de Gea. The Spanish goalkeeper won his third consecutive player of the year award for another vital contribution this season, and it is scary to imagine where United might be without his consistent brilliance.
Real Madrid are expected to come back in for the 25-year-old having just missed out on signing him last summer. De Gea might be tempted by the prospect of a return to his hometown, where he would also be offered Champions League football next season.
On the other hand, the opportunity to work with Mourinho might be appealing, and the new United manager's chances of keeping him at Old Trafford could be helped by the fact that they share the same agent in Mendes. Securing De Gea's future could be a tough battle for Mourinho, but it's vital he wins it.
Mourinho and Man Utd
A timeline of events involving Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and Manchester United.
Embrace the youth
Amid the gloom of Van Gaal's final season in charge, there were considerable bright spots from the club's academy. Marcus Rashford's extraordinary breakthrough was a particular cause for celebration, while Jesse Lingard, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson also impressed.
Mourinho's critics accuse him of having a poor record of developing young players, but the club of the Busby Babes and the Class of '92 pride themselves on youth development, and the new manager will be expected to continue the work started by Van Gaal at the same time as bringing in more established reinforcements.
It might require a change in approach. The former Chelsea manager vowed to use youngsters from the Blues' highly successful youth teams when he returned to Stamford Bridge in 2013/14, but in the end his promise to turn Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown and Dominic Solanke into full England internationals was made to look foolish.
Mourinho can point to his faith in Kurt Zouma and Raphael Varane as teenagers at Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively in his defence, but how he approaches the situation at United will test his credentials.
Curb the confrontation?
Will Mourinho's confrontational side shine through or will he be a reformed character at Old Trafford? He styled himself as 'the happy one' on his return to Chelsea, but United will be wary of how his second spell in west London unravelled.
It was not the first time Mourinho has become increasingly combustible in the months before leaving a job, and his bitter row with Chelsea's team doctor Eva Carnerio left a dark cloud over their season. It was the kind of incident Sir Bobby Charlton had in mind when he questioned Mourinho's suitability for United in 2012.
United will hope Mourinho settles at Old Trafford in a way he hasn't at his previous clubs, but a cross-town rivalry with his old foe Pep Guardiola is likely to get his blood pumping, as is another opportunity to go head to head with Arsene Wenger. Confrontation goes hand in hand with Mourinho, but his challenge is to ensure things don't get ugly.