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Mourinho's moaners? Why this week proved Man Utd tradition is back

COMMENT: So that's it? After just a week? No, scratch that. Five days. After five days. Two games. Jose Mourinho has ripped the heart out of Manchester United? Destroyed everything that is good about the club...?

Give us a break. Two clean sheets. One at Anfield. One in the Champions League. Yet, after all the goals. The 4-0 scorelines. The scoring records of Romelu Lukaku. The revival of Anthony Martial. The progress of Marcus Rashford. After all those boxes ticked. Inside five days. A draw at Anfield. A win at Benfica. It's hysterics. He's dismantling the foundations of the club. Tearing at its soul.

"Cowardly", Mourinho was branded for his approach at Anfield. That was Garth Crooks, once of Spurs now of the BBC. "Tolerated" was another line from another pundit, with United's "desperation" to get back amongst the elite only keeping him in his job. Those thoughts were brought to you by Craig Bellamy, formerly of, ahem, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Even a chat with French TV TF1 on Saturday night was pulled apart. Describing PARIS as "something special. Magic, quality, youth, it's fantastic", suddenly across the channel became Mourinho gushing about Nasser Al-Khelaifi's expensively assembled PSG. The United manager had just been fitted up. Pure and simple.

Of course, Mourinho's seen all this before. They - as in the local media - did it in Madrid. Just as it was done to him in Milan. It's a surprise seeing the same happen in England, but perhaps all bets are off when it comes to the Special One...

Mourinho's not upset. He knew it would be coming. The only thing that's left him disappointed was the lack of coverage of Chelsea shipping three goals and blowing the points against Roma, while his lot were doing what was needed at Benfica. Yes, he enjoyed needling Antonio Conte about complaints over his injury-list - though not as much as the Italian's reaction in response. The only thing was not seeing the irony recognised in Thursday morning's press. United had done their job. They're just about through to the Champions League knockouts. Chelsea, however, are leaking like a sieve and are no guarantee of getting out of their group.

What this week has shown is Mourinho is successfully revitalising the traditions of Manchester United. The stubborn maturity. The winning mentality. The qualities that sees a team, when things aren't going their way, eke out points at difficult grounds. Would a Louis van Gaal team have survived the tidal wave of Liverpool attacks on Saturday? What about David Moyes? Would they have known how to find a way through to earn that point? That's the difference.

Remember all those quotes from opposition locker room sources? United were "soft". They'd lost their "fear factor". You don't hear those claims anymore. The genius of Mourinho is that it's taken him just 18 months to achieve what Sir Alex Ferguson took, let's say arguably, four years to bring through at United.

This is a team which finished sixth last season, yet now there'll be disappointment if they don't finish champions. And that's all the while there's an expectation for Mourinho to take United deep into the final rounds of the Champions League.

From where United were under Van Gaal to today is staggering. LVG was given money to spend. Huge money. But that winning culture had long gone. The steel. The drive of past greats like Roy Keane and Bryan Robson. That simply didn't exist when Mourinho walked through the Carrington Gates.

But today? If this week proved anything, it was Mourinho has re-installed that winning mental strength. These days, no-one cries off at United. No-one collapses. They hold their line. In the clinches it can be ugly, but what do those moaning really want? For any fan, from Mansfield to Manchester United, it's always been about passion and commitment. Give us that and we can forgive the rest. Is there any United fan, particularly those regularly at the away ends, who can genuinely complain that Mourinho's players, to a man, aren't putting a shift in?

This team isn't a patch on Mourinho's Real Madrid. Nor Inter Milan's Treble winners. Not even his Chelsea sides. But this United are learning how to win again. The culture is returning.

And as this week proved, not everyone is happy about it. For United fans, would you have it anyother way?

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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