Jose Mourinho is close to becoming Manchester United’s next manager after executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and agent Jorge Mendes held talks in London yesterday.
Louis van Gaal’s turbulent two-year Old Trafford reign was brought to an end on Monday, just two days after leading the Red Devils to their first major trophy of the post-Alex Ferguson era.
The Dutchman paid for United’s prosaic style and underwhelming substance, with Saturday’s FA Cup win unable to mask the poor Premier League performances that saw them miss out on Champions League qualification.
United confirmed they planned to announce Van Gaal’s successor “soon” in the Monday statement confirming the widely-expected change in management. Woodward held talks with Mourinho’s agent Mendes yesterday, with his appointment appearing a case of when rather than if.
Mourinho’s impending arrival has not been universally welcomed, though, as club great Eric Cantona believes Manchester City-bound Pep Guardiola would have been a better fit.
“I love Jose Mourinho, but in terms of the type of football he plays I don’t think he is Manchester United,” the Frenchman told the Guardian.
“I love his personality, I love the passion he has for the game, his humour. He is very intelligent, he demands 100% of his players. And of course he wins things.
“But I don’t think it’s the type of football that the fans of Manchester United will love, even if they win. He can win with Manchester United. But do they expect that type of football, even if they win? I don’t think so.
“Guardiola was the one to take,” Cantona added. “He is the spiritual son of Johan Cruyff.
“I would have loved to have seen Guardiola in Manchester (United).”
Cantona suggested he is open to one day returning to Old Trafford as manager, but it is the future of former team-mate Ryan Giggs that is of serious interest right now.
The position of United’s most decorated player is uncertain, with reports suggesting the former winger is considering ending his near 29-year association with the club.
It is understood Giggs has an offer to stay on at United, although it is unclear what that role would be having been assistant to Van Gaal.
Meanwhile, Ronald de Boer has warned United that Mourinho possesses the same traits as Louis van Gaal.
Having worked under both managers and seen reports of player disillusionment at Old Trafford, he believes there is a risk of history repeating itself.
He also, however, expects Mourinho to improve their disappointing results.
“He is similar,” said De Boer, 46. “Most of the time what I know — and it’s the same with Mourinho — you hate him or you love him. People run away with the impression of Mourinho and it’s the same with Van Gaal.
“There will always be players who are not playing who will dislike him. Always.
“Mourinho is very good. He can shape a team and go straight for results. He is like Van Gaal, a workaholic and prepares perfectly on how to win. Sometimes it is not pretty but he knows how to grind out wins. That is what you get.”
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