What are the most pressing challenges for Mourinho to overcome at Manchester United?

The Portuguese was appointed manager of the club on Thursday afternoon

BY Raf Diallo 18:30 Thursday 26 May 2016, 18:30 26 May 2016

Picture by: Anthony Devlin / PA Wire/Press Association Images

If speculation is to be believed, Jose Mourinho thought he was a shoe-in to take the Manchester United job three years ago when Alex Ferguson retired.

But perhaps he was fortunate to be overlooked for the role that David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal took on with minimal success, given the decline of the club on the field over the past few seasons.

But with United still in transition, he has many decisions to make in the short and medium term now that he has finally been appointed manager.

Ryan Giggs

According to reports, Man United's chief executive Ed Woodward has made it clear to the current assistant manager that he wants him to stay at the club in an unspecified role. But in terms of his managerial ambitions, this may be the time to leave and grow as a first team coach outside the Old Trafford bubble.

For Mourinho, he will have to decide if the former playing legend is someone he sees as the man to assist him, and if the ex-Chelsea boss is in it for the long haul, is he comfortable working with a figure who the fans will be eager to see take over the job in the future?

Mourinho's backroom team has always included Portuguese compatriot Rui Faria who has been his assistant coach at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. He also served as a fitness coach when they were at Porto over a decade ago, so it is likely that he will be brought into the set up too, pushing Giggs down the pecking order.

Smoothing things over with the power brokers

If it weren't for apparent misgivings about Mourinho among elements of the hierarchy, he may well have been Man United manager much earlier than today.

One key figure often cited in that regard is club legend and board member Bobby Charlton, who did not see the 53-year-old as a United manager based on his past behaviour and the baggage that comes with it.

After Mourinho poked the eye of late Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova during a touchline dispute between his Real Madrid side and Barca in 2011, Charlton noted that "a United manager wouldn't do that."

The 1968 European Cup winner had also added that "he pontificates too much for my liking."

Charlton has publicly stated that he respects Mourinho as a good football manager, but that clearly has a caveat if questions over his behaviour and public conduct are raised.

Some media outlets have also claimed that Mourinho is only getting the job because Ferguson has relented regarding his unease at the latter's potential elevation, despite the apparent strong respect which exists between the two former competitors.

Smoothing over relationships with those who have doubts about him within the club will therefore be important for Mourinho, and that is also part of a long game that must see the manager tone down the bristly aspects of his mind games. He will also need to be conscious of not repeating incidents like his public treatment of former Chelsea club doctor Eva Carneiro in a match against Swansea last season, which set the tone for a meltdown of a campaign for the Stamford Bridge club.

Summer outlays

Mourinho is represented by one of football's most influential agents, Jorge Mendes, which could open the door to a host of players making their way to Old Trafford, and this summer is the first key juncture for Mourinho to squad-build.

Significantly, the club's best player, David De Gea, is on Mendes' books too, as is potential Real Madrid departee James Rodriguez. 

And more importantly, he will have to vastly improve on the quality of spending during the two previous regimes, with Anthony Martial the only post-2013 arrival that could be said to be a qualified success, even though United have money to burn.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is rumoured to be the first big arrivalbringing with him star power, assurance and the experience of having previously worked with Mourinho.

Further surgery is needed across the rest of the squad departments from defence, central midfield and the forward line - almost the whole team basically.

The European Championships add a minor complication with some of Europe's best players occupied by international commitments until early July, and some less high-profile targets could attract wider interest with good showings at the tournament.

That means these next couple of weeks could be crucial in trying to get some early deals done for specified targets that have already been identified by the new Man United manager and his scouts. 


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