So this summers long running transfer saga has finally been concluded. While most of us were scrapping round the back of our sofas looking for loose change last week, no expenses were spared as Manchester United completed the signing of Paul Pogba for the mental, eye-watering sum of £89 million. What’s even more bonkers is the fact that Pogba left United for Juventus 4 years ago for the measly fee of £800k. Cue the calls of Footballs gone mad and that Pogba isn’t worth that sort of money. Who cares? Do we care? I’ll tell you one person who doesn’t – Jose Mourinho.
The former Chelsea boss long played pantomime villain at Old Trafford, but since taking over the helm, Mourinho has wasted no time in making his presence felt, making four key signings and breaking the world record transfer fee in the process. Is 89 million too much? Probably. But Pogba is not some unproven youngster with limited experience under his belt. 4 league titles in 4 years with Juventus will tell you that much. And his transfer fee will be the first thing forgotten should he be stood with his first Premier League title aloft come the seasons end.
Arsene Wenger has said he is a player who ‘ticks all the boxes’, whilst Gary Neville has said that Man United need players with arrogance. Players that will puff their chests out and have the balls to play for United. Pogba ticks that box too. And so does Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The considerably cheaper free signing Swede brings with him as much bravado as Eric Cantona in his heyday; and he’s the closest thing United will get to another King Eric. Yes he’s on astronomical wages, but do the fans care? Fans pay to see their team win and Jose has given United a fair crack at doing that. And whilst Wenger has been left paddling around in a punctured dinghy in the transfer market ocean, Mourinho is whizzing off into the sunset in a speedboat.
Since Mourinho took over at United, he identified 4 targets, and he’s got all 4. Pogba is the last piece in the jigsaw, and with it ‘The Special One’ has transformed the Red Devils from underachievers into Title contenders. Only Pep Guardiolas appointment across Manchester has stopped the bookies from instilling Jose’s United as favourites, dropping their trousers and waving their white flag. But whilst Guardiolas cruise-liner is destined for a remarkable journey, it will do so in its own time. Mourinho is a winner who will not wait patiently in line. He built a title winning side at Chelsea in his first season around a core of key players. Cech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba. And now at United he has instilled the very same with the dependable David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Pogba, Rooney and Zlatan. Hungry players who will win at all costs.
That being said, any preconceptions United fans have of an attractive attacking style may as well be put to bed now. Mourinho will characteristically make his team difficult to beat. If drab 1-0 wins are the route to the title then so be it. Mourinho will happily park the bus and build on the defensive work of his predecessor Louis Van Gaal – who didn’t do much right but did give United the joint best defence in the league last season. The difference being that this season they have the firepower and the belief instilled by Jose and galvanised by the leadership of Ibrahimovic, to go on and win games. Zlatan is a shrewd piece of business, as for all his cocksure selfish persona, Zlatan is like a fine wine that keeps bettering with age. He will provide flashes of individual brilliance and goals and give the whole team a lift.
In the most wide open Premier League in recent memory, the title race is far from a foregone conclusion. But after his sacking from Chelsea, Jose has a point to prove. So does Pogba. And Zlatan. And that spells trouble. Under Ferguson, United were brash with their in-your-face success. They had the talent to take the game to their opponents and losing wasn’t an option. Under Mourinho it probably won’t be as entertaining but they have the foundations to mimic the United of old. Mourinho’s signings have gone a long way towards that, and in turn they wouldn’t be here if he was not in charge. Adidas announced Pogba’s transfer with a ‘First never follows’ slogan, whilst Ibrahimovic prefers to preach ‘Dare to Zlatan’. Well Jose never follows, and that’s why he dares to be first. If he pulls it off come May, well, that would be a special one.
By Darren Wells.