Jose Mourinho has had it “tough” at Manchester United, claims Paul Ince, with the Portuguese still cleaning up the mess left behind by David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
The Red Devils always knew that it would be difficult to replace Sir Alex Ferguson and, after 27 years of stability under the Scot, got through three bosses in as many years in the wake of his departure.
Moyes came and went in under a season, with Ryan Giggs taking in a spell as caretaker, while Van Gaal managed to deliver an FA Cup triumph but won few admirers with his brand of football.
Mourinho was then handed the reins in 2016 and asked to rebuild a fallen giant.
He landed three trophies in his debut campaign, but has struggled since then and is facing more uncomfortable questions this season amid domestic and European inconsistencies.
Ince, though, feels the United boss is being unfairly criticised, with the former midfielder telling PA Sport: “It's tough on Mourinho because he came in off the back of David Moyes and Van Gaal.
“Under Van Gaal they went back big time, they went back two years
“While Man United were going back, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool, they were going forwards.
“He [Mourinho] had to try to get them up just to compete with those teams and it's been a tough time for him.”
Things are not about to get any easier for the Red Devils either as their next outing is set to take them to Anfield to face unbeaten Premier League leaders Liverpool.
It is imperative that Mourinho’s side take something from that fixture as they continue to play catch-up in the race for top-four finishes.
Ince concedes that is the best that United can hope for this season, with a sixth-placed standing at present and the promise of a tough draw in the last 16 of the Champions League leaving another campaign hanging in the balance.
“Are we talking about a case where Man United might be struggling year after year to make the top four?” added the ex-England international.
“Only one team are going to win the league. Man United are not going to win the league.
“They've got to try to win a cup and they've got to try to finish in the top four, which is going to be a tough ask for them.”