Jose Mourinho's time at Manchester United turned incredibly toxic towards the end of his tenure, meaning it often gets lost that he was the club's most successful manager of the post-Fergie era.
The Portuguese boss won a Community Shield, League Cup, and Europa League at Old Trafford, as well as guiding them to a second place finish in the league for the 2017/18 season.
Considering the club's recent history, that is nothing to be sniffed at. In fact, Mourinho told ESPN a few years ago that he puts that runner-up finish in his final full season in charge as one of his greatest managerial achievements.
If I tell you, for example, that I consider one of the best jobs of my career was to finish second with Man United in the Premier League, you will say, ‘this guy is crazy'.
I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. And sometimes we, in this side of the cameras [punditry], analyse things with a different perspective.
Those quotes were widely ridiculed at the time. Manchester United are a club that were used to success, so finishing in second and well behind champions Manchester City was not seen as much of an achievement.
However, it looks better in hindsight. In fact, Rio Ferdinand believes Mourinho's comments have actually aged rather well.
Speaking on his ‘Vibe with FIVE‘ podcast, the Englishman said that most outsiders probably didn't appreciate the level of dysfunction going on behind the scenes at the time.
I think Jose Mourinho’s quote has aged so, so well. I think, for one, I would apologise maybe, to some extent, in terms of the way that you kind of looked at him and judged him.
But I still feel that there were flaws in some of the ways that he handled people and handled some of the situations that he was involved in.
That was said in 2019, on finishing second in the Premier League! That has aged so well. So, we can see that there’s been stuff going on that’s wrong behind the scenes. But, at that time, we didn’t know the extent of it. Obviously, Jose Mourinho did.
He wanted to get rid of numerous players, and he wanted to bring in certain players. And obviously, they handed out big wages and contracts to certain players, and he’s thinking, ‘Woah, what’s going on?
I can see the flaws in certain individuals, flaws in the way the club is set up at the moment – I want to change things.’ He wasn’t probably afforded that.
I would love to have half an hour talking to Jose, just about his time there. Just to kind of work out where he was at with a bit more detail than we’ve actually ever seen and gauge it to where we are now.
United did manage a second placed finish last season, although they benefitted from poor campaigns from both Liverpool and Chelsea, while they never looked like challenging for the title. Since then their form has dipped dramatically.
They would certainly bite your hand off for a finish in the top two next season.