Manchester United’s team spirit under Jose Mourinho is at its best since the Sir Alex Ferguson era, according to several senior members of the squad.
The Portuguese inherited a beleaguered and, in his own words, sad group of players following a lobotomising campaign under Louis van Gaal that ended in his dismissal.
Under Mourinho, however, Man United’s campaign ended in winning the Europa League – their second trophy of the season – and securing a place in next season’s Champions League.
Only eight players remain from the Fergie era, but the consensus is that Mourinho and his team have invoked a sense of bullishness and collective drive.
The 54-year-old has developed a reputation for being a divisive, sour figure, but behind the scenes – where the us against them is generated and consolidated – the complexion is very different.
Van Gaal’s overly high strung and authoritarian PE teacher-esque ripped the very soul out of the first team squad and supporters alike. It was almost condescending, you felt.
With Mourinho, however, a more relaxed approach has been taken. Players are given responsibility rather than simply barked at, which has naturally compelled players – supplemented by the embedded serial winning mentality brought by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba – to engage with a collective march towards success.
Harp about Mourinho’s ‘abrasive’ countenance when placed in front of a microphone, but you do not win two trophies in your first season without engendering the right environment.