Jose Mourinho infamously said that finishing second with Manchester United is one of his best achievements as a manager. That statement, coming from a two-time Champions League winner, has been synonymous with United’s failings since his sacking four years ago.
Despite winning two major trophies in his first season at United, his tenure gradually started to turn sour, and less than a year after signing his second contract at the club, he was let go and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Following his sacking, Mourinho suggested that his second-place finish in his second season was one of his best achievements.
“If I tell you, for example, that I consider one of the best jobs of my career was to finish second with Man United in the Premier League, you will say, ‘this guy is crazy’,” Mourinho said in 2019, according to the Manchester Evening News.
“He won 25 titles and he is saying that a second position was one of his best achievements? I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.”
Those behind-the-scenes issues have come to light on more than one occasion since his departure and United are still scrambling to find the right formula to bring them back to the top.
Rio Ferdinand, the former United defender, has been vocal about what needs to be done at the club and he has now apologised for judging his tenure at United the way he did.
“I think Jose Mourinho’s quote has aged so, so well. And me for one, I would apologise maybe to some extent in terms of the way you kind of looked at him and judged him,” Ferdinand is said on his VIBE with Five show, via the Manchester Evening News.
“I still think there were flaws in some of the ways he handled people and handled some of the situations that he was involved in. But in terms of looking behind the scenes, that [quote] he said in 2019 on finishing second in the Premier League, that has aged so well.
“We can see that there’s been stuff going on that’s wrong behind the scenes, but at that time we didn’t know the extent of it. Obviously Jose Mourinho did.”
Mourinho’s trajectory hasn’t rocketed since he was let go by United but he’s resurrecting his career in Italy after helping Roma reach a European cup final for the first time in over 30 years.
We’ll never know for sure exactly what Mourinho was talking about but we do know that since that infamous statement was made, there have been wholesale changes to United’s footballing structure.
The main man, Ed Woodward, is no longer at the club and Richard Arnold, his replacement, has taken a hands-off approach on football matters.
Chief negotiator Matt Judge has left the club and Darren Fletcher and John Murtough have taken up roles as Technical Director and Football Director respectively.
United’s changes at board level haven’t translated into success just yet but with Erik ten Hag’s arrival at Carrington now imminent, supporters have something to look forward to beyond this torrid season.