The Portuguese’s tenure at the helm of the Red Devils is now at a crossroads where he must deliver the goods or perish.

When the final whistle blew in Manchester United‘s disappointing FA Cup final loss to Chelsea, nobody in the stadium was probably more disgruntled by the result than Jose Mourinho. The United boss might have maintained a straight face and carried on with the post-match proceedings quietly thanks to his respect for his former side, but deep down, he knew that final blow was the end of a disappointing season for the club and himself.

The loss also meant that Mourinho’s infamous “second season success” streak was broken, which proved that he isn’t really “The Special One” anymore. The Red Devils played some really poor football to grind out victories throughout the campaign, with Mourinho’s defensive football frustrating United fans all around. However, they weren’t the only side to play a more defensive-oriented style of football among the top six, with Antonio Conte‘s hapless Chelsea scoring fewer.

Watch: Will Jose Mourinho be sacked this season?

Mourinho has failed to instil his “winning mentality” in the club so far and that was on show when United failed to win when needed numerous times last season. It’s not that the Red Devils didn’t show shades of their promise, as a thunderous start to the season proved how well the boys can play if allowed some freedom to express themselves.

But, just when it looked like United were getting back into the groove, Mourinho reverted back to his ultra-defensive system in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, something which along with Paul Pogba‘s untimely injury, caused a glaring downfall in their football.

The Red Devils failed to maintain any consistency in their game afterward, dropping points to average sides and eventually losing out in the title race against Pep Guardiola‘s unstoppable Manchester City.  One thing which plagued Mourinho throughout the campaign was the fact that he failed to find the right combination for his team. He kept on experimenting with different lineups and constantly benching talented, important players took away all the confidence which had built up earlier in the term.

It was well-known that the Red Devils needed to heavily reinforce in the summer if they are to challenge at the top next season. There are some glaring problems at the back for them and the lack of a proper full-back haunted the club throughout the previous season. To that end, United seemed to have solved their “third midfielder” conundrum by signing Brazilian, Fred. While talented young centre-back Diogo Dalot has joined him, the lack of transfer activity at Old Trafford, has, it seems, been getting on the manager’s nerves.

Indeed, with just over a week left before the Premier League’s transfer windoiw closes, the tactician needs additions and fast. The capture of Brazilian left-back Alex Sandro could be vital, with the Juventus man having the experience to guide Luke Shaw next season. United also need another experienced defender, with Toby Alderwerield being tailormade to be the leader in the center of defense.

The Red Devils also desperately lack a real leader and even though Antonio Valencia does well to show grit and energy on the pitch, there seems to be nobody who can take the game by the scruff of the neck for them. Since the departure of Wayne Rooney, United have looked very unsure of how to handle pressure at times and nobody has been willing to take charge for them. Mourinho needs to identify and appoint some leaders on the pitch and give them the freedom to try and motivate the players.

Another bane of Mourinho has been his persistence in criticizing players who were showing signs of improvement. Be it Shaw, who despite improving, was benched by because he “wanted more” or even more so Anthony Martial, who despite having a great season, was abruptly replaced by newcomer Alexis Sanchez who wasn’t really needed. Mourinho’s consistent targetting and criticism of his own players will do him no good and eventually turn the locker room against him.

Watch: All Manchester United goals during the 2016-17 season

While “The Special One” has brought decent success to the Red Devils and visibly improved some areas of their game (most of all their defensive solidity), he’s failed to bring the real success which the club has craved since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. His failure to mount a real challenge for the “big trophies” like the Premier League or the Champions League, which have been pivotal to the “heritage” of the club, hasn’t helped his reputation at all.


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Mourinho needs to reaffirm his ability to be a top manager and come up with the goods next season. He needs to prove how his “defensive philosophy” is correct by challenging for trophies on all fronts because if he can’t do that, then soon his own fans will turn on the kind of football he’s playing with such a talented squad. Moreover, if Mourinho once again shows signs of his “third season breakdown,” he will be swiftly fired, just as David Moyes was a few seasons ago.

The Portuguese has already made himself a loathed figure among the fans with some of his comments, namely in disregarding the effort of the players whom he deems “not part of my squad” and the criticism of many others. He’s also rustled up the likes of Pogba and Martial with some of his comments against them. Now, on the back of a disappointing pre-season tour of the US, things could get worse for United.

It almost seems as if Mourinho is deliberately lowering the morale of the squad with his stinking criticism and trying to set them up for failure. He’s looking like a grumpy old man on the sidelines and his failure to get the best out of his squad isn’t helping win over the fans who’ve doubted him. Moreover, Mourinho is not getting the kind of financial support from the United board as a result.

If Mourinho’s United stars continue playing like Chelsea did a few years ago, the Red Devils’ hierarchy won’t be hesitant to sack the manager to save the reputation and brand image of the club. But, another sacking could be catastrophic for Mourinho because it’ll prove his deterioration as a manager over the past few years. His inability to win something “big” with a club like United would only serve to substantiate that he is a fading force.

Watch: All Manchester United goals from the 2017-18 season

Also, The Special One’s latest defensive philosophy shown at the helm of United might have rubbed some of the clubs who wanted him the wrong way. While he was bold to reject a proposal from Real Madrid to return as manager next season, Mourinho won’t have any other “top” clubs willing to sign him if he continues in the same vein.

Apart from that, he doesn’t really have anywhere else left to go, having won everything there is to win everywhere he’s been. Mourinho doesn’t bring the style of play which will please Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and doesn’t seem intent on going back to Spain or Italy. His biggest task right now is to take United back to the top of English Football, something which will also enhance his reputation as one of the greatest managers of all-time.

Mourinho might revel in being the “bad guy” of modern football, but even he knows deep down that bad guys meet some terrible fates in the end. He might be unflinching at the thought of being fired once again, but he needs to be careful not to shoot himself in the foot again. Another mid-season sacking could turn into “The Normal One”, a reality which could possibly be his worst nightmare.