Manchester United and manager Jose Mourinho experienced a unique season in 2017-18, as results and tactics clashed in a negative manner. The Red Devils expect a certain type of attacking and exciting football to bring success, and that is not necessarily something that the Portuguese coach always delivers.
Mourinho has proven himself to be a great tactician, often able to devise the proper strategy that will bring victory. However, frustrations arrive when the silverware is not produced from that approach. In this sense, the upcoming campaign will likely bring a repeat of recent history for him and his employer.
Mourinho is a mercenary, an individual that a club turns to in order to bring trophies or stability. It began well enough in some respects, capturing a League Cup and Community Shield in his first term. Lifting the UEFA Europa League crown was supposed to set up a strong run this past season, but that was not the case.
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola ran away with the Premier League title race, and elimination in the Champions League at the hands of Sevilla only angered supporters. A defensive alignment and plan is fine when you are winning, although it becomes the opposite amidst consistent losses.
United eventually would finish second in the league table, and lost in the FA Cup final to Chelsea.
All that is part of the equation, as is what almost feels like a ticking clock on his time at Old Trafford. Since his tremendous success guiding FC Porto to European glory, Mourinho does not stay at a club for very long. This has been for a variety of reasons.
The 55-year-old has been known to clash with ownership and wants business handled his way. That aspect is not difficult to put up with, but only when triumphs are a common occurrence.
The third year has been a critical moment for Mourinho, as the breaking point is normally reached. This took place twice at Chelsea, and with Real Madrid in 2013. At Inter Milan, the exit was even sooner.
When examining the mood around United at the moment and looking at what is on the horizon, a perfect storm is beginning to form. City are a genuine juggernaut, and Guardiola will only be provided more reinforcements this summer. Reports have some key players like Paul Pogba growing agitated with the situation, and it may be tough for Mourinho to regain his focus.
Real Madrid won yet another Champions League trophy, and the idea of United making a deep run in that coming tournament seems unlikely.
If the 2018-19 campaign begins in a poor manner, there is no guarantee that Mourinho will even make it until the end. Never one to hold back his opinions, it is a scenario that would appear all too familiar to those that have followed his fascinating career.
Manchester United are going through an identity crisis, and it really started when Sir Alex Ferguson stepped away. Jose Mourinho is currently trying to find that identity, but it will be a search that ends in failure for the manager that has achieved so much throughout Europe.