Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has told Sky Sports that suggestions Jose Mourinho has lost his magic are “ridiculous.”
Mourinho, 53, has faced questions over his management after leading a dismal Premier League title defence at Chelsea before being sacked in December and then struggling to bring consistency at United since taking charge in the summer.
United are currently sixth in the table, eight points behind leaders Liverpool, but Neville said: “I think we’re judging Jose Mourinho on a moment. You hear ridiculous things like: ‘Has he lost his magic?’
“He won the league 18 months ago, he’s one of the most successful managers of all time and he’s only young in management terms.
“If Manchester United go and win the next four matches, Mourinho will be a genius again, they’ll say, and we’re very quick these days to shoot managers, coaches, players down, particularly those who have built up enough credit to prove it over a long period of time.
“Ultimately, let him do his job, let him deliver. There’s nothing to suggest he’s not going to deliver here yet, in my mind. There’s evidence to suggest it’s going to be tough, tougher than he thought.”
Sky Sports pundit Neville, who has defended Mourinho on several occasions this season, said it is important United try to find some stability in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
David Moyes succeeded Ferguson in 2013 but lasted less than a year, and Louis van Gaal was dismissed in the summer after finishing fifth last season.
Neville, who spent his entire club career playing under Ferguson, said: “Of course, the psychology has changed since Fergie left. The players who have been there for a while, they had one voice, they knew who was in control.
“They’ve now had three managers in three, four years. You know that change in direction, style of play, how each manager works, getting used to that.
“It’s the same in any workplace. If you had three different bosses in your company in three years, you wouldn’t know whether you were coming or going, and that’s the same out there. It’s important that the club can stick by Jose for three years, let him do the work. It’s going to be tough, you can see that at the moment.”
Neville also backed the growing calls for his former teammate Michael Carrick to be given a more prominent role.
The midfielder has been on the winning side in all six of his appearances for United this season, and Neville said: “Carrick is almost never going to be star of the show, but I always get the feeling that when Michael is in the team, the team play better.
“That was the feeling when I was there, and since I’ve left [in 2011].
“He has the habit of bringing the best out of other players. That’s through the control he brings, the composure, the experience, the defensive and positional play that some people don’t always spot because it’s not a sliding tackle or aggressive header.”
Mourinho said after the 3-1 win over Swansea before the international break: “I would love to play him [Carrick] every game but that is not possible. Why? For the same reason that I cannot go to the gym every day anymore! He started today and he played very, very well.”