Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho aiming to bury painful past and bring new glory to Manchester United

By Mark Ogden

A hearse passed through the Old Trafford car park moments before Jose Mourinho's official introduction as Manchester United manager.

It was carrying a coffin, surrounded by red and white roses, and it seemed an appropriate metaphor for what followed Old Trafford's Europa Suite.

This was the day that United were burying the last three years, consigning them to history, and handing Mourinho the task of overseeing the club's resurrection. The Portuguese was in town to bring life back to Manchester United.

It was strictly business as the 53-year-old entered the room, however. Six minutes earlier than the scheduled 11am start, Mourinho stepped onto the dais wearing a United training top carrying the initials 'JM.'

This wasn't a day for a suit, nor a soundbite to continue the thread from Special One through to Happy One. If anything, Mourinho was the Impatient One - three signings already done, the thorny issue of Ryan Giggs dealt with and a tour of the club's facilities already undertaken weeks ago.

"The other two times (when unveiled by Chelsea), I was arriving at the country," Mourinho said. "This is a different one.

"I was sacked by Chelsea and then I stayed in the same country, the same competition with the same faces in front of me, so it is nothing new for me.

"It is not a dream job, it is a reality as Manchester United manager.

"It is just to arrive into a club which is difficult to describe, to find the right words to describe this club.

"I don't like denomination people use like dream job - it is not a dream job, it is reality as Manchester United manager.

"I think it is a job everyone wants and not many have a chance to have and I have it."

Nine questions and 30 minutes later, the question as to whether he wanted it and could have had it three years ago following Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement failed to materialise, left for another day.

But Mourinho was aware of the magnitude of his surroundings and the legacy he inherits.

"I know the legacy, the history of this club," he said. "I know what the fans expect from me and this challenge doesn't make me nervous because my history in the last 10 years or more was always to live with big clubs; expectation.

"I think it comes in the right moment of my career, I feel very prepared, very stable and with a great motivation.

"I am where I want to me in this club, in this country, but I feel frustrated I am not playing Champions League.

"I don't hide that I chase Sir Alex's record in the Champions League for matches as a manager (192) - I am around 130 matches.

"Hopefully it is only one season I am not there. When I say we, obviously the club is more important than myself, Manchester United is more important than myself and we have to make sure that, in July 2017, this club is where it has to be in the Champions League."

Mourinho's appointment has been well-received by United supporters, with his winning track record a welcome return to the days of Ferguson and an end to the three years of night under David Moyes and Van Gaal - two managers ill-prepared for the demands of the Old Trafford stage.

But while Pep Guardiola checks in at Manchester City with a reputation for delivering success, style and panache, Mourinho remains, to many, a figure from the dark side.

The perception is that he does not promote youth and prescribes functional, rather than flowing, football but the man himself suggests both are misconceptions.

"I prefer to be more aggressive and say we want to win and I can anticipate any one of you will come later with a question about style of play," Mourinho said. "I can answer by saying you can win a short competition, a couple of matches, without playing well, but you cannot win competitions without playing well."

And the youth development? Would a Marcus Rashford or Timothy Fosu-Mensah - or even a Beckham, Scholes or Neville - find their way through under Mourinho?

"To answer it would take 10 minutes, but I knew that was coming," he said. "You know how many young players I promote to the first team from academies? 49? Do you want to know who they are? I can give you that. I promote 49 players from the academies from the clubs and with two factors,

"Sometimes you promote players because you don't have another chance because you have so many injuries.

"That is one factor and the second factor is when you are not playing for big targets, it is easier to bring them up.

"I never promote players because of need. I did it because of conviction and decision.

"I did 49. Some of them are big names, they are today Champions League winners or playing in the Euros.

"One lie repeated many times, sometimes it looks true but it will never be true. 49. If you want the names, I give you the names."

The truth is that Mourinho's past, his track record in terms of trophies and youth development, now counts for little more than the credibility it will guarantee in the dressing room and among the supporters.

It will not last forever. Success going forward will be the only commodity Mourinho and United are interested. Guardiola will be a respected rival in that sense, but it seems, for the first time since Ferguson retired, United possess manager capable of escaping his shadow.

The two have already spoken, with the Scot offered some valuable advice.

"Yes, bring the umbrella!" Mourinho joked. "Yesterday I couldn't believe it was raining, so it was great advice.

"The second advice was to bring my typical bottle of wine. Now we are going to have many occasions to be together."

United and Ferguson have had enough of drowning their sorrows over the past three years, but Mourinho will only expect to drink in celebration.

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