An auspicious day for Manchester United to sign Jose Mourinho
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 26, 2016
The date May 26th already held huge significance for both Manchester United and Jose Mourinho before his deal to take over at Old Trafford was finalised and reportedly signed in a London hotel.
Students of sports history, and there will be many among readers and punters, may already know why, but in case you don’t or need a reminder, here’s what makes May 26th such an auspicious day…
A dozen years ago on this day, Mourinho guided his plucky Porto side to Champions League glory with a comprehensive 3-0 victory in the 2004 final over a Monaco team that contained Patrice Evra, who would go on to sign for the Red Devils and serve them with distinction.
Adding the European Cup to a managerial and coaching CV, which – at that point – included spells working under Sir Bobby Robson and United predecessor Louis van Gaal at Barcelona, as well as domestic silverware in his native Portugal, catapulted Mourinho into the spotlight.
Ever since his memorable race down the Old Trafford touchline during the 2004 last 16 tie when the visiting boss, there has been an air of inevitability about Mourinho being a permanent fixture in a dugout seat that was occupied for so long by his friend Sir Alex Ferguson.
Thereafter, Mourinho’s managerial career has been littered with trophies – both in English football and elsewhere – and high-profile departures almost in equal measure.
Between two spells with Chelsea, Mourinho lived up to his self-proclaimed moniker of ‘Special One’ by becoming the first coach to guide Inter Milan, or any Italian team for that matter, to a European treble of Champions League, Coppa Italia and Serie A glory in the same season (2009/10).
He also endured three difficult campaign with Real Madrid (2010-13), bristling at constant criticism from the Spanish media, yet still lifted La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
Enough about Jose. Inch after column inch has been written about this Portuguese coaching prodigy turned trophy hunter. Why is May 26th so significant to Man Utd? Well, there are two main reasons.
As we’re still on the subject of European success, it was on this day in 1999 when the Red Devils under Ferguson completed their own outstanding and unprecedented treble.
Only four days earlier, they had beaten Newcastle United to complete the second leg of this trifecta, scooping the FA Cup, having already ousted Arsenal as Premier League champions.
United came from a goal down in the Nou Camp, with stoppage time strikes from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stunning German giants Bayern Munich and the Red Devils stole away from Barcelona with the Champions League trophy.
Go back a further 90 years to 1909, and a certain Sir Matt Busby was born in Bellshill. The Scot went on to manage Man Utd for almost 25 years, delivering five old First Division titles, two FA Cups and the breakthrough of a maiden European Cup in 1968.
That success in the elite continental competition was all the more remarkable given how United had been shaken a decade earlier by the tragedy of the Munich Air Disaster.
While the Busby Babes would sadly never realise their potential, a new Red Devils team combining survivors of 1958 and names added since like George Best and Brian Kidd took the club to real heights.
Don’t believe in omens? There’s a lot of evidence to the contrary outlined above. Coral offer odds of 6/1 that Manchester United reign again as Premier League champions under Mourinho in 2016/17.