Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has promised to change the style of football at Old Trafford.
The former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager replaced veteran Dutchman Louis van Gaal after two disappointing campaigns at Old Trafford in which United failed to put together anything resembling a title challenge, culminating in a failure to qualify for the Champions League last season.
And Mourinho has claimed that he will aim to put his own stamp on United after Van Gaal failed to win over the United support with his slow-paced, possession-heavy style of play.
“My teams are different to Mr Van Gaal’s,” Mourinho said told a press conference, as reported by the Manchester Evening News.
“It’s a difficult situation to change the dynamics - it would be easier for me to have 20 new players and start from zero. After two years of work, there are things in their brains that are automatic.
“That’s difficult to change, but we are working hard and the players are giving everything to adapt. Step by step, my team is going to be my team.”
Mourinho has struggled to shake off his reputation as a pragmatic coach in recent years, despite presiding over a number of exciting, counter-attacking sides in his trophy-laden career.
At Real Madrid, Mourinho’s side scored a record 121 La Liga goals as they stormed to the 2011-12 La Liga title, nine points clear of Barcelona. In total, Los Blancos scored more than 100 league goals in each of Mourinho’s three seasons at the Bernabau, influencing Cristiano Ronaldo’s transformation into the most prolific goalscorer in world football.
Meanwhile, in the first six months of his most recent title-winning campaign at Chelsea, the likes of Eden Hazard (below), Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa combined to play some of the most thrilling attacking football the Premier League has seen in recent years.
However, the two-time Champions League winner arrived at Old Trafford with many fans doubting his ability or desire to implement the kind of direct, full-blooded attacking football that underlined so many of Sir Alex Ferguson’s title-winning sides.
“I love José Mourinho, but in terms of the type of football he plays I don’t think he is Manchester United,” Old Trafford legend Eric Cantona told The Guardian in May.
“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.”
Yet, Mourinho has always refuted suggestions that he is overly concerned with the defensive side of the game, pointing to Inter Milan’s 3-2 Champions League semi-final win against Barcelona in 2010 as an example of his results-driven approach as opposed to apparent pragmatism.
“Everyone says we parked the bus in front of the goal,” Mourinho said after Barcelona’s 1-0 win against the 10-man Nerrazzuri.
“We didn't park the bus, we parked the plane and we did it for two reasons. One, because we only had 10 men and two, because we beat them 3-1 at San Siro, not by parking the bus, or the boat or the airplane but by smashing them."
With Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (below) and Marcus Rashford within his ranks, United fans will be hoping their new coach follows through on his claims.