Manchester United face Southampton in the EFL Cup final on Sunday, and the match could be an important occasion for both the club and manager Jose Mourinho.
Despite last season’s FA Cup win, the Red Devils have endured poor recent spells under both David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal in comparison to the trophy-laden era under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Mourinho has been tasked with bringing the good times back to United, and his past record at some of the world’s biggest clubs suggests that he could do just that.
After Premier League title rivals brought in high-profile managers over the summer, United responded by appointing their own. The Portuguese replaced Van Gaal at Old Trafford after leaving Chelsea for a second time in December 2015 — and the signs are that his new side are on the up under his guidance.
To win in the EFL Cup final on Sunday would not only secure the first silverware of the season, but would provide the new Mourinho regime with a real boost towards future successes. A first trophy under the new boss would show that United will be able to compete for the major honours in the near future, and could even produce a push further up the table come the end of the season.
United currently sit sixth in the Premier League; two points off of the top four and four points behind rivals Manchester City in second. Chelsea look like running away with the title, but any of the Champions League spots are still up for grabs, which is a significant improvement for United at this stage of the season compared to recent campaigns.
New recruits are showing good form too. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been scoring for fun for much of the season, and players such as Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have provided exciting glimpses of what they could bring to a future Mourinho side. These players, with the mix of youth and experience already at United, have the makings of a quality side.
While United are still a fair way from being the finished article, fans can take heart from Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea. After a decent first season on his return, he made his side almost unstoppable in the next campaign as they stormed to the title.
Despite an ugly ending to his Chelsea return, the “Special One” is more than capable of working his magic at Old Trafford, and there can be no doubt that his new side will be a real force in seasons to come.