SO long Jose Mourinho, I’ll miss you. It’s true that I’ve often been a critic of Mourinho in this column but he’s a character and the Premier League will be a duller place without him.
His downfall in the end was that the football his Manchester United team were playing was just too dull. That becomes impossible to tolerate if it’s not producing enough wins.
In my first column on Aug 21, I predicted that Mourinho wouldn’t last the season at Old Trafford. His dark mood on the pre-season tour in the United States more than hinted at major problems behind the scenes.
The club were drifting, lacking vision and direction beyond growing the “brand”. I’m sure Mourinho’s sulky outbursts were viewed as tarnishing the brand and thus he had become a marketing liability.
A pay-off reportedly in excess of £20mil (RM106mil) should help soften the blow. But I don’t think he really needs the money and it probably doesn’t compensate for the damage to Mourinho’s professional reputation.
With each manager that fails in the task of replacing him, the reputation of Sir Alex Ferguson only grows.
Next up to try is legendary former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, appointed as caretaker boss until the end of the season. He enjoyed a magnificent start with a 5-1 win away at Cardiff.
After the game, analysts described United as having been “unshackled”, “set free”, and “allowed to breathe”. Solskjaer has an incredible opportunity to audition over the next few months.
But the Norwegian will face far tougher tests of his credentials than Saturday’s. Cardiff manager Neil Warnock wasn’t as impressed as the media seem to be: “You can’t tell me they were amazing, they’ll get more stern tests than us.”
He’s right. Ultimately, I don’t think Solskjaer will pass all of his exams. One result (albeit a very good one) has apparently made everyone forget how bizarre an appointment this actually is.
The leap from Molde in the Norwegian League to Manchester United is of a distance that would trouble an Olympic long jumper. Also, why are the club appointing a caretaker manager?
If they’d taken a bit more care in appointing previous managers – starting with David Moyes – they wouldn’t be in the present predicament.
Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino is widely tipped as the favourite for the job. Understandably so; he’s Premier League tested, has his side playing attractive football, and is clearly ambitious.
Can Spurs match his ambition? The lack of new signings in the summer makes me doubt it.
I think Pochettino is manager of the season so far, even given the superb job that Klopp has done in guiding Liverpool to the top of the table.
Another prediction: Poch will be in charge at United by the start of next season.
Whoever the new manager turns out to be, they shouldn’t underestimate the scale of the task ahead. One win against Cardiff does not herald a return to former glories, however excited people are getting about it.
Many problems remain to be solved with the Pogba one being the most immediate priority. Yes, he played well on Saturday, but I just don’t think he’s anywhere near worth the trouble he brings.
Following Mourinho’s sacking, Pogba reportedly said that the Portuguese had messed with the “wrong baller”. If he ever made a contribution as big as his ego, he’d be the greatest player of all time.
He’s the “wrong baller” for United and if I was the new manager – I’m available Mr Woodward – my first priority would be to sell Pogba.
And after three failed attempts, this time United really need to find the right manager.
Craig Wilkie. Football Writer. Football Coach. Football Fan. Follow him on Twitter @ciwilkie