Former Manchester United midfielder Lee Sharpe has lauded Jose Mourinho for the job he has done during the early stages of his time at the club.
The 53-year-old has guided Man United – empowered by the acquisitions of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba over the summer – to a 100% start in the Premier League following victories over AFC Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull City.
Speaking with Omnisport, Sharpe reflected on how Mourinho’s side evoked memories of the United of old.
“It took me a little bit back to old United,” he said, reflecting on United’s last minute winner against Hull City.
“Hull made it really difficult for them defensively, yet they kept going and you could see at some point in the game that they were going to score.
“I think under Louis van Gaal they were a little bit sedate when they were chasing a game or chasing a winner towards the end, whereas this was like the Alamo.
“They were just going that whole last 20 minutes and it just so happens they scored in good old ‘Fergie time’.
“The team look really strong in every department. I think the manager’s strengthened in good areas with top-quality players and I think the rest of the team are raising their standards to join them.”
The difference between the current United side and the turgid outfit that stumbled through last season was highlighted most clearly in the final 20 minutes against Hull.
Imagine the same situation (the game is goalless, possession is all yours, and the opposition is quite content with a point), only with Louis van Gaal as manager. Such a parallel universe is excruciating: despite the urgency required, the Dutchman would’ve instructed his team to follow the same stolid formula, aimlessly moving the ball around the periphery of Hull’s defence as time ticked away. Needless to say, a goalless draw would be the outcome. But at least we had 65% possession and managed a clean sheet, right?
With Mourinho, however, it was quintessential United, and also reflective of Mourinho’s insatiable desire for victory, no matter how it arrives. Any vestige of a game-plan was abandoned, and in its place came sheer bombardment – a constant, furious bashing on the door until, finally, the ball went in. Pinning the opposition back until they have no choice but to lie down and accept their fate. It was vintage United, and supporters will hope to see it continue this season.