Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince believes the club’s fans will not tolerate another season of dour football, as he warned manager Jose Mourinho to change his approach or risk losing the backing of the Old Trafford faithful.
Mourinho guided United to a second place finish in the Premier League last season, but an increasingly vocal of the club’s supporter base were venting their annoyance at the brand of cautious football promoted by a manager who has struggled to get the best out of flair players like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Anthony Martial.
Now Paddy Power ambassador Ince has reminded Mourinho that he is at a club with long-standing traditions of playing attacking football, in comments that are unlikely to be viewed as constructive by a manager who has bristled at negative criticism of his version of the game in recent months.
“Man United fans have been brought up on a tradition of playing the game in a certain way. You can go back to Steve Coppell, through to Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and plenty more and they all played football with a bit of daring in them,” begins Ince.
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“United is a club that needs a team playing with style and panache. The fans want to see the team beating teams by three and four goals and if they lose occasionally, they want to see them going down fighting.
“What they have got with Mourinho is very different. To be fair to him, this is a tough job as he went in there after Louis van Gaal, who took Man United backwards, and he has got to try and build them up to Manchester City levels again. That is not easy to do overnight, but that is the job he has to do.
“To finish second is great, but Man United fans will lose patience will him very quickly. The noisy neighbours across the road are not helping as they are playing football from another plenty and it doesn’t help that Liverpool and Tottenham are playing with a bit of style as well. These teams are playing attacking front foot football, creating chance after chance.
“What you see with United is a team trying not to lose most of the time and once Chelsea went 1-0 ahead in the FA Cup final, Mourinho’s team didn’t really look like getting back into the game. That isn’t good enough for this club, it’s as simple as that. These fans don’t want to see their team having one shot every 45 minutes…they will demand more and if they don’t get it, they will turn on the manager.
“Imagine an Alex Ferguson United team in that situation. He would have had two centre-forwards up for the last ten minutes, every player pushing forward and trying to save the situation, but we don’t see that with Mourinho. Fans like to see a bit of risk football being played, but Mourinho won’t allow that to happen.”
Ince went on to remind Mourinho that winning trophies will not be enough to silence his critics at United, as he hopes the signings of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal last January and Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk this summer are a sign of a change in his approach.
“Mourinho is a serial winner and he may have got away with this style of football at his previous clubs because they were happy so long as they won a few trophies, but you won’t get away with this at United,” he added. “The fans just won’t put up with this. He can’t say; this is the way I play, take it or leave it. Because I can tell you now, the fans will not accept that.
“Once he brought Sanchez in, I thought that was a sign that he was trying to change things and the same with this new signing Fred.
“He is signing attacking, exciting players, but he has to give them license to express themselves. If you sign Cristiano Ronaldo, do you tell him to track back all day and play a cautious midfield role? Of course not, but that is what Mourinho has done with some of his creative players like Paul Pogba this season.”
Paul Ince is an ambassador for Paddy Power and will be a guest on Paddy’s Boat Party which will be broadcast live on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube throughout the World Cup. Watch the first episode on June 13th at 6pm.