When José Mourinho took over at the start of the season, many Manchester United fans felt like the Special One would be the ideal choice to shake off the complacency that had crept in under Moyes and van Gaal. Although the Community Shield brought instant silverware, a mixed start to the league campaign had many in the media – and Old Trafford – wondering if he was actually the right choice.

The build-up to Christmas and into New Year, when United went unbeaten for 17 matches, helped change the minds of a lot of people. Players and fans alike have suddenly seemed much more confident about the future and what the rest of the season might hold.

Plenty of pundits made their feelings known about the form of some of the big players, such as Rooney and new signings Pogba and Ibrahimović, at the beginning of the season, but a sense of teamwork and common goals is starting to show through now.

A second trophy was won in February when United lifted the EFL Cup, and with the side still involved in the Europa League, there could be more to come before the end of the season. Two or three trophies in his first year in charge would have to be seen as a success for Mourinho, even if they were not the biggest prizes on offer.

Although the media might be quick to criticise him – for example, this 888sport article asks if Mourinho has lost the plot at Manchester United – he has definitely brought a new mentality to the club and put his faith in a side that he has taken time to get used to. A lot of fans were disappointed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t seem to be given much of a chance at the start of the season, but Mourinho has now brought him into the team when he has been needed and the Armenian has shown what a talent he is.

Another favourite target for criticism has been Paul Pogba. With such a massive transfer fee, the Frenchman was always going to disappoint some, but many forget that he is still only 24 years old and has plenty of time to stamp his full authority on the side in the next few years, given the chance.

Zlatan Ibrahimović has taken immense delight in proving his critics wrong and could easily finish with over 20 goals for the season and a handful of winners’ medals. If Mourinho can convince the Swede to rebuff interest from the US and China and stay at Old Trafford, then the future is suddenly looking very bright for United – and Mourinho.

With a Champions League spot not entirely out of their grasp, United might be able to top off a successful season with qualification for the biggest European prize of all. United’s stature in world football is already big enough to attract some of the top names in the sport, but the promise of Champions League football next season would really help Mourinho in taking the club back to the heights that everyone there expects.

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