The Portuguese departed Old Trafford in December 2018, but he has been held in the highest regard by an academy graduate he handed a senior breakthrough to
Jose Mourinho once branded himself “the Special One” and Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay says the Portuguese remains “very special” to him, despite departing Old Trafford.
An experienced coach established a reputation as one of the finest tacticians in world football across spells at the likes of Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid.
That standing took a hit during an ill-fated stint in Manchester, which saw him relieved of his duties in December 2018 after failing to deliver the results expected at an ambitious club.
Mourinho did capture three trophies in his debut campaign, but saw United fail to build from that point as the struggles now making life difficult for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began to take hold.
The 56-year-old has faced accusations of leaving the Red Devils in a weaker position than when he arrived, but McTominay will be forever grateful to a manager who gave him his big senior break .
The Scotland international told Sky Sports of a former boss who continues to divide opinion: “Jose has been very special to me. He still keeps in contact with me now and keeps in touch after some games.
“He’ll always have a special place in mine and my family’s heart because he’s the one who brought you in, he was the one who trusted you, he was the one who had belief in you.
“I owe a tremendous amount of credit to him because if it wasn’t for him I might not necessarily be sitting in this seat.”
While Mourinho opened a first-team door for McTominay, the 22-year-old midfielder accepts that he owes a debt of gratitude to many of those behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
He added: “I wouldn’t be at this football club if it wasn’t for Paul McGuiness, Dave Bushall, Tony Whelan and people like that who show an absolutely ridiculous amount of patience with somebody who can’t even play an U18 game because he’s growing, his legs are stretching and he’s got no co-ordination.
“Yeah they need to be patient. Off the pitch as well they have to be patient with you as well. There’s a lot of different things with school and in your education and your digs you’re staying in.
“Dave Bushall had to change my digs like three or four times because my mum at home wasn’t happy or whatever. It’s amazing the level of work they go to, to ensure that every family and every soccer professional has been happy. It’s incredible and a real credit to the academy and the staff here as well.”
Having come through those challenges to earn recognition at United, McTominay has been hoping to help the club get back to where they once were .
The 13-time Premier League champions have endured a humbling from grace, with Solskjaer now facing questions of his ongoing presence, and the challenge has been to bring positivity back to the ranks.
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“Smiling comes from winning. That’s the way life has been,” McTominay added, with United currently sat 12th in the English top-flight table.
“When you’re doing well everyone wants to smile and everybody has been pleased. That’s where we want to get to as a group. Hopefully in the next few games we can do that as well.”
United will get the chance to put smiles on a few faces on Sunday when they return to action after the international break with a home date against title-chasing Liverpool.