Peter Schmeichel has urged the Manchester United board to give Jose Mourinho ‘time and patience’ and says he can deliver the club Premier League title.
The Red Devils boss came under fire when his team tasted two successive defeats. They lost two of their first three league games for the first time since the 1992-93 season, when the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson guided the club to its first Premier League crown.
The former Real Madrid and Chelsea boss has a strained relationship with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and publicly criticized the club’s transfer dealings over the summer. He demanded a centre-back and Woodward was unwilling to deliver. But Schmeichel, a five-time Premier League winner, insists Mourinho is capable of turning things around if he is given time from the United board.
‘He’s been at great clubs like Real Madrid, Inter Milan. He won the Champions League with Porto. Three Premier League titles with Chelsea.’ said Schmeichel, who joined United in 1991 and went on to play 398 appearances for the club in all competitions.
‘He’s done so many great things in football. But Manchester United is a different level to anything. The scrutiny, the traditions and the history that we have.This is in the equation every day. Every single day, we respect our history. We have very proud traditions.’
Mourinho joked about the club not being able to afford the compensation package agreed on by both parties when he signed a contract extension midway through last season in a rather cheeky comment to Italian press following the 2-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
“It was well documented that he wanted a centre-half,” as quoted by the Daily Express. He also talked a while back about how maybe he should now be called the head coach and not the manager. That is also a dig at the vice-chairman, implying he has no control of the players he brings in or sells after he was denied sanctioning all of his transfer targets.
“It will be a difficult season for everybody, not just for us,” the 55-year-old said.
“I had my plans for many months and I find myself with the market closed in a situation I did not think I would be in. It’s the last time I speak about it. It’s over, the market is closed. That’s football management. I think football is changing and managers should be called head coaches.”
Mourinho has had a difficult week after two consecutive defeats to Brighton and Tottenham. The 2-0 win over Burnley was a relief to the boss, who is trying his best to challenge Manchester City for the title this season. United’s disharmony behind closed doors seems to be seeping on to the field, as most are predicting another tricky and potentially sorry affair when they travel to Watford after the international break.
Fans criticized Woodward by flying banners. Woodward was branded a ‘specialist in failure’ through banners which flew over Turf Moor 20 minutes before kick-off amid applause from a section of United supporters in the away end. The term was once used by Mourinho so it seems as though the former Chelsea manager has the backing from a significant section of the fanbase.
From clapping the fans after the defeat against Spurs to being seen handing a jacket to a fan, it seems as though Mourinho is still building a close bond with the United faithful. A clever way to get people on side. That said, Mourinho has also seemingly backed Woodward by insisting that it’s a shared victory and the club’s chief also won on Sunday.
“You know, in the match I am not looking to the sky unless I am asking something for the guy to give me help. I didn’t see planes but Ed Woodward won this afternoon. He won 2-0,” he is quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Manchester United has made an immediate goal-scoring start to the season, bagging penalties against Leicester City and Brighton.
However, Schmeichel feels supporters will not see the best of the £89million man, Paul Pogba, until he gets a well-earned break.
About Pogba, he said:
“Paul’s come back from the World Cup having won it, he’s come back very early and it’s really difficult. Hopefully later on in the season there is an opportunity to give those players (Paul Pogba is one of them) just a little bit of a breathe – it is so difficult!!”
Schmeichel was part of a great United team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson, winning five Premier League titles in eight years at the club.
His tenure culminated in winning the treble in 1999, the only English team ever to do so, and the 54-year-old says that the club is unlike any other.
“You can’t just walk into Old Trafford and you’re there. There’s so much to get used to,” he added.
“He must think ‘wow this place is so special’ because of what happens around him. Every single place that he goes, he will not meet one or two United fans, but big numbers. They live and breathe Man United.
“This is what the other clubs don’t have in those kind of numbers. There is nowhere he can go where Man United is not with him. I think that takes time.
“When I arrived at the club, I was surprised, and it took a long time to get used to.”
But, despite the apparent negativity surrounding the club, United legend Schmeichel is adamant that progress is being made under Mourinho.
He said: “ I don’t believe for one minute there is any unrest in that dressing room.” : speaking to TalkSport at the FIFA BEST AWARD.
“I think they are working to a plan and it’s kind of going to plan. It’s not this unsuccessful place that I read about and listen to in the media.”
“What I see is progress; it’s getting better, we’ve got better players, more exciting players, players who are inspirational for the fans. People want to get to Old Trafford to see these guys play.”
“There’s a Europa League win, there’s a League Cup win, there’s two FA Cup finals and they were runners-up to an incredible Manchester City side last year. I think, all in all, that’s not too bad.”
Speaking about the former Real Madrid coach he said:
“This is great. Yes we strive for more, but these are very positive things.” “When we give him time and patience, when we understand this is a period in which we have to develop, we can win the Premier League.”
He added: “At some point, everything will get together and Jose will have the kind of team that he really wants and I’m sure that we’re going to see a much more different Man United team and performance.”
Mourinho’s men sit in tenth place in the Premier League going into the international break.Though speculation has gathered in recent weeks that Mourinho may be on the verge of getting sacked, it remains to see whether the manager will be given the time to try and help the club catch the chasing pack.