The Boogeyman is gone.
At the start of business, yesterday, in Manchester, it was announced that José Mourinho was no longer the manager of Manchester United. So, of course, living on the east coast of the United States, I woke up to about 76 notifications; that’s the last time I sleep-in while we have an embattled manager on the thinnest of ice.
We have outlined all the administrative changes that need to happen in Northwest England to dig this storied club out of the quagmire that it has found itself in because of gross negligence and mismanagement. While we wait for The Glazers and Ed Woodward to concede control to a person actually concerned with on-field performance, it’s time to call on the players to step up.
I repeat again. The Boogeyman is gone. Playing for Mourinho is no longer the task for every player wearing that red shirt. The source of crushing narcissism that has plagued the club is gone, and the players need to remove their own egos too.
It’s time to play for that Red Devil crest on the shirt, it’s time to remember that Manchester United isn’t about one manager or a handful of players, and it’s time to remember that Manchester United is the best damn football team to come out of England, period.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been brought in as caretaker manager while the club positions itself to hire a permanent manager — Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is rumoured as the next man up. Solskjaer’s appointment, along with the return of former coach Mike Phelan, suggest the United leadership want to rekindle the good ole days of Sir Alex Ferguson. Both men have all had hands in the success of the club and will serve as beacons for the current crop of United players.
Speaking of that fractured dressing room, for a third time, the Boogeyman is gone and before Christmas no less. This team has three matches before the next transfer window to prove they’re professional players worthy of playing for any team, let alone Manchester United.
If Paul Pogba thought the spotlight was bright before today, wait until he steps out on the pitch against a miserable Cardiff City side. His excuses are no longer valid with Mourinho gone, and he has five months to prove that he is the $100 million talisman. We may see him have a hand in three goals on Saturday and the noise will quiet down, but, if he fails to produce consistently through the rest of the season, the team leadership will be hard-pressed to keep him when the European mega clubs come calling.
Other maligned players of Mourinho past like Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Fred and Alexis — if he’s healthy — all have an opportunity to step up and prove to themselves, this club or other clubs that they’re worthy of playing professional football.
The road will not be any easier with the club sitting 11 points outside of the top four and drawing Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. However, the supporters will rally if this team shows up and plays proper football again. An upset in the Champions League, a surge in the Premier League standings or a run in the FA Cup are all on the table and are a great opportunity for this team to also look more attractive to the next manager to take the helm.
So, boys, it’s up to you to restore faith and bring energy back to the Theatre of Dreams... Do you think you got the minerals to make some noise and wear that crest with pride again?