Back in July 2006 Rob Smyth1 wrote himself into minor infamy with a Guardian article titled ‘Shredding his legacy at every turn’. In it he prematurely called time on Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford, accusing him of losing the plot, relying on the wrong players and forecasting ever-declining standards at Manchester United. The tone of the article was so pessimistic, and its timing so divinely, uncannily ripe for schadenfreude in hindsight, that when United promptly went onto win three consecutive championships, win the Champions League in 2008 and had Cristiano Ronaldo win the Ballon d’Or, Smyth and his piece came to be celebrated with irony by the United fandom.
In this new article, Smyth is on the other side of the spectrum, calling for circumspection when it would be easier (and more popular) to decry the current United manager. The rot seems more institutional than anything else and all the more worrying for it; and the idea that Mourinho may have rediscovered his angsty fire in the humiliation against Chelsea is rather fanciful. But the main point Smyth makes is nonetheless very valid: Mourinho needs more time.
- Who, in my mind and notwithstanding the referenced article, is the best chronicler of all things United. ↩︎