In the summer of 2013 Manchester United had the choice between David Moyes and Jose Mourinho to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.
Caught up in the euphoria of a twentieth league title and Ferguson’s own farewell, no one thought to actually ask Moyes to bring his CV to the job interview.
If they had it would have revealed he had only won the second division title with Preston 13 years earlier, and nothing else, and was of course woefully ill prepared to manage United.
But United still went ahead and appointed him instead of Mourinho, which would plunge the club in to three years of decline.
This Spring, no one at United would have dared ask Jose Mourinho to bring his CV to the interview, because no one does that to the modern era’s most successful manager.
A record of eight league titles in four different European leagues and two Champions League since 2003 needs no introduction.
Three years on, United have rectified the biggest mistake of the last four decades and finally installed Mourinho.
There is much to dislike about Mourinho; the arrogance, the inherent need for constant conflict, the short-termism, and the treatment of staff, most recently the Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro.
But as his CV so gloriously details he is above all a winner, and after spells with Moyes and yesterday’s man Louis van Gaal, United desperately needed a winner.
And more than that, they have a scorned and freshly motivated winner. This is a man and a club in need of each other.
Mourinho would have hated being escorted off the premises by Chelsea in December, his second spell at Stamford Bridge ending in failure, but after a period of introspection, he is back with a bigger and better vehicle at United to sate his need for trophies.
Mourinho better represents United because he avoids talk of processes and philosophy, and of making it difficult for Newcastle, and aspiring to be Manchester City.
Instead he shares the same obsession with Ferguson and talks only about winning. There has never been any other way for him.
He wants a squad who can win immediately, and so his moves in the transfer market have, in contrast to his two timid predecessors, been bold and brilliant so far, recruiting world-class talent in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
While it still feels strange to see Mourinho in a United tracksuit, it also feels overwhelmingly right. If United are serious about being the best once again, they need to be lead by the best.
The squeamishness of the old guard at United that first prevented and then held up Mourinho’s arrival should soon be becalmed.
Sir Bobby Charlton, who once told me about Mourinho, “It is not the way we would do it,” will start to enjoy watching United win again; and Sir Alex Ferguson, whose own ego and a sense of protectiveness prevented him handing his creation over to him in 2013, should also thrill to United returning to winning ways.
United have suffered too much and for too long to retain any sense of superiority or haughtiness; they need to win again, and Mourinho should make that happen.
Mourinho is finally in the building. Better late than never.
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