Jose Mourinho wants to leave Manchester United in a “much, much, much better” state than the club he took over.
There were always going to be teething problems when Alex Ferguson called time on his spell at Old Trafford, but few could have foreseen quite how tough it would be.
Successor David Moyes did not even see through his first season at the helm, with Louis van Gaal last year paying the price for his prosaic football and inability to secure Champions League qualification.
Mourinho has struggled to immediately turn around United’s Premier League fortunes, but Europa League, EFL Cup, and Community Shield glory has helped bring a winning mentality back to the club. Mourinho recently said he would love to be at the club for a further 15 years — but whenever he leaves, he wants the club to be stronger than when he found them.
“I would like the next manager to arrive — not now — but I would like the next manager to arrive and to find a much, much, much better club and team than I found at every level,” Mourinho said.
“I found an amazing club with an amazing history, but not ready for me to win. I want to win and I want the next one to win too.”
Upon his unveiling last summer, Mourinho said United needed to forget the previous three years and re-find the winning “routine” that had gone missing. “You know, we won three trophies and the Europa League was very difficult to win, but it is not the Champions League,” he said, speaking at Georgetown in Washington.
“We went to the Europa League as one of the top teams, we go to the Champions League and we are not one of the top teams.
“We have to be better, much better for that objective. So, you know, we cannot be just thinking that we won, like I say, two-and-a-half trophies, like we did last season.
“This season is going to be more difficult but I think we have also better conditions to fight for the Premier League against fantastic teams, against amazing investments.
“But I believe in our group, in our spirit, in our empathy, in our togetherness, in our happiness to be together, in our happiness to work together. I trust my boys and we are going to try.”
The squad certainly seem to enjoy working together, while Mourinho has more often than not been seen with a smile on his face during the American tour. Questions over the Portuguese’s happiness were raised during his first campaign at Old Trafford, yet he feels even more enthused and motivated than when leading Porto to their shock Champions League triumph in 2004.
“More — more than before,” Mourinho said. “More than before and better prepared than before. Porto was 2004, 13 years later it looked so fast for me. I think when it looked so fast it is because you love it so much.
“Because when time flies, it is because you enjoy that time. When time looks very slow, it is because you are not enjoying and it never ends.”
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