Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes that next season will be “the more important one” for Jose Mourinho‘s men.
The Mourinho era, despite beginning with four straight wins, quickly began to wilt during the early stages of the season, leaving Man United in sixth spot – 13 points behind leaders Chelsea.
United have undergone something of a resurgence in recent weeks, however, claiming four consecutive wins to keep them within touching distance of the top four.
Ferdinand, speaking earlier this week, believes that next season will be the time where Mourinho’s men need to deliver from the start.
“I think next season will be the more important one for United,” Ferdinand said.
“They’ve spent big this summer and they’ll probably reinvest again next summer and go again the following season. This season, though, any one of six teams is capable of winning the league and United are in that mix.
“We need to keep being consistent and keep up a run of games where we build up confidence and get points on the board.”
The consensus amongst United fans regarding Louis van Gaal was, essentially: okay, give him a year to sort everything out, reach the top four, and then challenge next season. Next season is the big one.
And so the Dutchman duly fulfilled the first half of this tacit arrangement, guiding his side to fourth spot. But the real question, of course, was whether his side could then kick on and challenge for the title. Needless to say, the Dutchman never delivered, slumping backwards into fifth spot, and in turn slumping back to his Portuguese villa after being relieved of his duties in May.
Such an attitude should apply to Mourinho: find a balanced starting XI (something he has already done, and something van Gaal never really managed to do), reach the top four, continue to develop his side’s chemistry whilst drafting in a few other names, and steamroll to the title next year.