It only needs a win away to Yeovil Town on the occasion of his 100th game as Manchester United manager on Friday night now for Jose Mourinho to cap off a perfect week. His 55th birthday brings the perfect opportunity to celebrate a five-day period which has not just brought him a new signing in Alexis Sanchez but now a personal contract extension to boot.
United announced on Thursday evening that the Portuguese manager has signed up for a one-year extension containing a further one-year option which would see Mourinho stay at Old Trafford until 2021. For a man who has built his reputation on short-term assignments, seeing out this deal would break new ground.
“I feel happy. I don’t sign contracts if I’m not happy,” he told MUTV after putting pen to paper on the new deal. “I’m really happy with the trust, with the empathy. It’s a special contract for me because I’m used to signing new contracts with clubs after a big achievement, with Chelsea after being champion, in Inter after winning a Scudetto, at Real Madrid after winning La Liga.
“Here it is just a consequence of my work. We believe in each other and we are happy with each other. I think I am doing the things that the owners and the board think are the right things for the future of the football club.”
And this is where Mourinho’s new United contract was less of a formality. Some Red Devils fans consider the jury to still be out on the manager given that there still hasn’t been a concerted push for a league title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013. But most will surely believe this to be just the kind of stability the club need after the events of the last five years.
David Moyes was identified as the long-term replacement for Ferguson but had gone within a year and even his successor Louis van Gaal failed to see out his three-year deal. A club which had known only one way for over a quarter of a century were suddenly being pushed from pillar to post.
Moyes brought in one type of player, Van Gaal another. And with each new manager came a new way of doing things. With Mourinho there has been a very distinct line drawn in the operation of the football business. Another overhaul under another new boss is the last thing that a club known for their stability need.
The players in particular will feel the benefit of this deal, as Mourinho joked: “I think honestly it is good for them, even if there are one or two – or more, I don’t know! – who are not happy with my new contract, it is good even for them to know that I am going to stay!”
It makes complete sense for the man himself too. After short-term posts at Lieira, Benfica, Porto, Chelsea twice, Inter and Real Madrid, there are surely only so many roles he can bounce around before he really sees a job through, and Manchester United is the perfect place to do that.
He may have had some questions asked of his decision not to put down roots in the area by buying a house, but he clearly finds the facilities laid on at the city-centre hotel he currently calls home to be conducive with his circumstances. His living arrangements suit him, and for as long as he keeps getting the backing he has received from the United board, so does his work life.
He is not everybody’s cup of tea, and he has yet to prove that he can bring United that top drawer success of a league title or Champions League crown. But he is the man whose vision the United board has thrown their weight behind, just this week committing another £350,000 a week to the cause to bring in Alexis Sanchez, and it is only right that they look beyond two-year or three-year plans if they are to make the club what they were on the pitch once again.
Mourinho is the man for the job, whether people like it or not. This really is a case of ‘better the Red Devil you know’.