After Manchester United won the League Cup on Sunday at the expense of runners-up Southampton, it appears the Reds have brought the good times back to Old Trafford under new manager Jose Mourinho. However, they should be under no illusion the silverware they’ve won is enough to call this season a success.
Before the season began, many pundits and fans alike have maintained that the minimum for United this year is to get back to the Champions League. That means finishing at least fourth in the League. This is why previous manager Louis van Gaal was sacked. After all, he failed to do so in his last season at the club, despite winning the FA Cup – a title the Reds have not won for more than a decade.
Just as well, Mourinho should also be put under the same microscope. Indeed, United’s League Cup win last Sunday is historic, there’s no doubt about that. The Reds’ victory at Wembley on the weekend meant they are now joint-top English club with the most major trophy wins at 41, level with their fiercest rivals Liverpool.
On a personal level, the EFL Cup haul is also a record for Mourinho. The Portuguese tactician is now the first-ever Manchester United manager to win a major trophy in his first season, signalling that his approach brings about instant success to the club.
But the usage of the term “success” should not make him or the club complacent. The trophy is all well and good but a top-four finish in the Premier League is the bare minimum requirement for the club this season – even Mourinho knows that.
“Manchester United is a Champions League club,” the former Inter and Real Madrid boss said in his first ever presser for the Red Devils in pre-season.
“In July 2017, instead of waiting for Europa League play-offs, we make sure this club is where it is meant to be – the Champions League.”
Sure enough, nothing less than Champions League qualification is the target for United this season. Anything else that comes in lieu of that – even a historic, groundbreaking, League Cup win – will be considered a failure.