Jose Mourinho the right man to bring success back to Man United - Joe Cole
Joe Cole has told ESPN FC that Jose Mourinho is on course to complete a "fantastic" first season at Manchester United and said his former Chelsea manager is the perfect man to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.
Cole, now captaining Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United Soccer League as the Florida-based franchise attempt to secure a licence to play in Major League Soccer, spent seven years at Chelsea between 2003 and 2010 and became a central figure in the team which dominated English football during Mourinho's first spell at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2007.
Mourinho has so far struggled to replicate with United the instant success he enjoyed at Chelsea and the club currently face missing out on Champions League qualification unless they win the Europa League.
But with Premier League leaders Chelsea aiming to move one step closer to winning the title with a win at Old Trafford on Sunday, Cole says Mourinho has already shown he is getting United back on track and can return success to the club.
"I wouldn't say that Jose is struggling," Cole told ESPN FC in a telephone interview. "It depends which way you look at it, but he is the first Manchester United manager to win a trophy in his first season and, even though they are Man United, it is a different era now because different expectations have come into the Premier League. Every one of the top six teams will believe they can win the league. Only one of them can be champions, though.
"But if you look at the team now from when Jose took over, there has definitely been an improvement. They have already won something with the EFL Cup, so he has ticked that box. The squad is developing and the younger players are part of that too.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he does really well there. I am not one of those who thinks he is struggling, I think it is a work in progress. He will be successful. He already has been, but I believe he will win more trophies there.
"Put it this way, who else would Man United want in charge at this time? I can't think of anybody they would rather have because he is the top man."
United go into Sunday's clash with Chelsea on the back of a 1-1 draw against Anderlecht in their Europa League quarterfinal first leg in Brussels on Thursday.
And with Mourinho's team four points adrift of the top four in the league, albeit with a game in hand on fourth-placed Manchester City, Cole believes the Europa League is United's best hope of getting into the Champions League.
"It looks like they will have to win the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League, but maybe it is better for them to focus on that now rather than be hanging around the edge of the top-four race," he said.
"You can rest players now and get ready for the Europa and winning it would be a massive achievement. I don't think United have ever won it before, so it will be a big thing to do it. United fans are used to winning trophies, so if you end the season with two of them, there is an argument for saying that is a fantastic season."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_