Charlie Nicholas: Jose Mourinho wasn't bad at Manchester United - they were on a spiral

Charlie Nicholas provides his verdict on Jose Mourinho's Manchester United spell
Charlie Nicholas provides his verdict on Jose Mourinho's Manchester United spell

Soccer Saturday pundit Charlie Nicholas assesses Jose Mourinho's time at Old Trafford ahead of his return with Tottenham on Wednesday.

Read also: Alex Keble says Jose Mourinho can seize the moment

Was Jose actually that bad at Man United?

Jose Mourinho was at Old Trafford earlier this season as a pundit with Sky Sports
Jose Mourinho was at Old Trafford earlier this season as a pundit with Sky Sports

"I don’t think he was. I think his personality and style was an agitation to a lot of people, but what they did to David Moyes was criminal and they found how bad things could be with Louis van Gaal, how it was all about him and no one else. Jose Mourinho comes in and spent some money to try and get it back on board, trying to strike and blend balance, experience and a few youngsters.

"He doesn’t like bringing them in too easily and they have to truly earn it. The youngsters must prove to him and the experienced players that this is why he is picking them. Manchester United were in a mess. He got them the top four, won a trophy, and it was a pretty decent achievement for the team he had.

"As Jose does, once he has a couple of rows, it can only go one of two ways. He would get them out, but he couldn’t find the time to get them out, or the players would go against him? Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Nemanja Matic could have been a few, and this was his downfall. I don’t feel United fans disliked him. They didn’t love him but they didn’t dislike him.

"I don’t think he did a bad job, but Man United were on such a slide that this was probably his poorest period in English football. Manchester City were ripping it up alongside all of this, but I don’t sit back and think he was poor. United were on a spiral and he was just a small part of it."

Has he taken a step up now looking at Spurs v United?

Jose Mourinho and his new coaching staff
Jose Mourinho and his new coaching staff at Tottenham

"He has taken on much better players at Tottenham than he did at United. I don’t look at it and see the partnership between Daniel Levy and Mourinho. It is a strange combination and I am not sure how to understand it.

"These are good players that are here. You look at the difference already with Dele Alli, but it has only been three games. If he gets the best out of him then they are on to a winner, but away from that, in those three games Tottenham have conceded two goals in each game. Will they go back to Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen who are potentially leaving? Which way will Christian Eriksen look at it? He will be leaving - Jose is no mug. He knows who is popular and knows which players are required to build momentum.

"If he can get the top four and go as far as last season in the Champions League then well done to him. The Tottenham team is not as good as last year, but there are still struggles they had here - it was a club which needed a new manager. He goes there and tries to tidy it up defensively, but they are a better attacking team than Manchester United.

"If he walked away with a draw he would be pleased, but this is an opportunity for Jose to build momentum, and if he does that then it is fair to say that he is doing this. These are the games for Tottenham."

Sky Bet: Tottenham 7/4 to finish in Premier League's top four

What kind of reception will he get off the Manchester United fans?

"I think he will get some applause when he walks down the side to the dugout. I do not see it being hostile and I wouldn’t understand it.

"I do not deny that Man United fans think he didn’t want to stay in the hotel and that he was costing them all that money, but only Jose has the answer to that and the reality to that saga and story.

"I never got the vibe of dislike. Man Utd won trophies, he represented their club and did so in decent fashion. It may be similar to Arsenal. It was perhaps a lack of leadership of hierarchy rather than pinpointing the actual manager.

"Louis van Gaal had the arrogance and Jose had a different style to that I think. He gave them something back, but a lot of the players were guilty. The leadership and hierarchy of the club is where the leadership lacks. There will be a fair amount of applause for Jose."

Will he get one over his old side?

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Manchester United boss struggling for consistency

"I just think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hanging in there. I don’t know what the board make of it all, but Mauricio Pochettino is looming large and is all over the news. If Man Utd lose, he comes under some serious scrutiny, more so than what he is now.

"United would be completely out of the top four race, if they aren’t already, and the danger with this is here and evident, and real. I went with 2-2 as both teams are really weak at the back.

"Man Utd need 10-15 minutes of energy for things to happen - we saw that against Sheffield United and Aston Villa. Tottenham play more fluently - Heung-Min Son has pace, movement and more variety in his play that tells me Tottenham will get something, and this is possibly why they are favourites.

"There are too many mistakes in these two teams. Jose needs time to sort that and Solskjaer doesn’t seem to have the time, or the answer for that matter. Who partners Harry Maguire at the back? David De Gea is not quite world class and too many goals are going in, it is his duty, alongside the defences, to stop this happening. I do not see why Tottenham should not be going after this and for all three points."

Charlie predicts: Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham (Sky Bet odds: 11/1)


Latest odds

Manchester United - 13/8 | Draw - 12/5 | Tottenham - 8/5

Dele Alli scores his second for Tottenham against Bournemouth
Dele Alli scores his second for Tottenham against Bournemouth

Prices via Sky Bet and correct as of 1030 GMT on 03/12/19


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