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Opinion: How José Mourinho Played A Blinder This January

Following the St Stephen’s Day showing against Burnley at Old Trafford, José Mourinho was irate.

Of course, having trailed 2-0 at the break thanks to a listless first-half display he had complete reason to be.

Then came the second-half Jesse Lingard-inspired salvo that rescued a point not being good enough for a side that looks to trouble Manchester City’s dominance at the Premier League summit.

Mourinho, annoyed at the 90 minutes that had unfolded, was reminded that his side had dropped eight points from their previous five matches and was asked whether such a lapse might be unacceptable for a club of United’s stature.

Speaking about Manchester City and their seemingly endless amount of money thanks to the Abu Dhabi investment, the United manager took aim at the Old Trafford hierarchy claiming that the £261 million invested during his tenure has not been enough.

‘‘We are in the second year of trying to rebuild a football team that is not one of the best teams in the world.

“Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of strikers. It is not enough.

“And the price for the big clubs, the price for the big clubs is different from the other clubs. So the big, historical clubs are normally punished in the market for that history.’’

Blaming the apparent lack of money spent during his time at the helm, constant bemoaning of issues such as injuries and fixture-lists while dealing with the media, has become a feature of recent interviews.

Add to this his sides dreadful run of form over Christmas that saw them lose sight of Pep Guardiola’s spellbindingly good Manchester City side and is easy to see why the critics went after the Portuguese.

Furthermore, his flirtation with the ultra-rich French giants Paris Saint-Germain back in November raised concerned eyebrows among Manchester United directors and fans alike as he labelled the Ligue 1 champions’ project as ‘‘special…magic…fantastic’’.

This added to the growing worry that Mourinho was ready to leave United, thanks to what he felt as a lack of support from the Old Trafford board.

However, Mourinho, who is renowned for being a master of mind-games, may just have pulled a masterstroke by taking aim at the United board and batting his eyelashes at PSG.

This was a clear plea from the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss towards the United board to fully back him and spend more money as he looks to rejuvenate United into a formidable outfit on all fronts once more.

It is now clear that Mourinho, who is an opportunist, realised after the Burnley draw that the supposed deal between Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Pep Guardiola may have hit a stumbling block.

Sensing an opportunity, his post-match comments acted as a call to arms for the Old Trafford hierarchy and CEO Ed Woodward to sign a world-class attacking talent; the type of signing that would garner support from the terraces and would enhance United’s at-times stagnant attacking threat.

By 6 pm on Monday, Sanchez had been unveiled as a United player with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way in a straight swap.

It is believed that Mourinho played a significant role in the Sanchez transfer negotiations and managed to sway the Chilean’s interest away from Manchester City and towards Manchester United by working round the clock to ensure his signature.

Sanchez, who has high standards, reflects Mourinho’s burning desire to succeed on the pitch whatever the cost and this winning mentality, to drag a team over the winning line is something that has been lacking at United since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013.

A tireless worker who hounds and harries opposition defences as they emerge with the ball, the Chilean will bring much-needed intensity to United’s tackling but the biggest draw here is his incredible footballing talent.

Sanchez, who is a fantastic dribbler, can shoot off both feet and has an innate talent for finding and more importantly, exploiting space, can add dynamism to United’s attack by being able to play as a striker, a number 10 or on either wing.

This is something that significantly strengthens Mourinho’s attacking hand allowing the manager to play a range of different formations.

Calling United a ‘very powerful club and the biggest in England,’ Sanchez claimed that the opportunity of working under the United manager was a massive factor in his decision to snub Manchester City and sign for their cross-city rivals.

“That was one of the things that attracted me to come here, along with the manager, who is a person who won everything in Italy, the same as he did in Spain, and he’s a manager who likes to win. I’m a player who likes to win everything.”

With the signing of Sanchez, it looks more likely that Mourinho, whose contract talks with United are reportedly going well, will sign a new bumper deal that will see him earn a marked increase on his reported £15 million deal that expires in the summer of 2019.

The former Chelsea boss, who won the EFL Cup and UEFA Europa League last season, wanted a deal that would reflect the steady progress that United have made under his stewardship and he admitted recently that he wants to commit his long-term future to the club.

With Alexis Sanchez his newest signing, it is clear that the United board of directors wish for the same.

“I am going to leave when the club wants me to leave because I have no intention to leave at all. My intention is to stay and to work and to improve and to bring the club to where the club belongs.”

The man who infamously claimed he was ‘‘The Special One’’ when he was unveiled as Chelsea manager in 2004 may be turning the Titanic ship of Manchester United rather than jumping to PSG, and with his newest recruit the embodiment of his values this January may have finally marked an upturn in fortunes at Old Trafford.

Conor O’Shea, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.