Jose Mourinho’s start at Manchester United has been widely criticised for several reasons. From paying the world-record transfer fee and bringing the one that got away — Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford — to his team getting draws after draws at home, his 10-month reign has not been what it was expected to be.The team’s performances has left most United fans disappointed. United have created the most amount of chances from inside the box but have failed to put them away which has cost them dearly and might well haunt them come May. His first season has been regarded as a failure by most people but is it really so?Mourinho few days back said that he inherited a nice bunch of boys but the team lacked belief in themselves under Louis Van Gaal and one cannot argue about that observation of the current United manager if you look at the previous performances of the team. Yes, the team had won the F.A. Cup but they also played some lacklustre football and failed to go past easy opponents and conceded some horror goals as well. The defence was shaky, the forwards failed to take their chances and score goals and the team didn’t do enough when they should have.Has all of that changed in the last 10 months? Not fully but improvement is certainly there to be seen.Under Mourinho, United have conceded way less goals and also scored more already than under Van Gaal. Last season, they scored 49 and conceded 35 from 38 matches and had 66 points on the board, finishing fifth. This season they have already scored 51 goals and conceded 25 goals till now, with four matches to go. United have the second best clean sheet record in the league, behind second placed Tottenham Hotspurs, who have conceded 22 — three goals less in equal amount of matches so far. Not only that but the Red Devils are on a 25-game unbeaten streak in the league, which is the best in Europe amongst the top six leagues.advertisementBut they’re 16 points off the leaders Chelsea and one point adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City and qualifying for Champions League is looking tough with Arsenal and Spurs still to play. What’s the use of the unbeaten streak then?SOLID DEFENCEWell, if one looks at it this way, it’s of no use what so ever but if one considers the performance and the stability Mourinho has brought at the back, making it a solid defence from a shaky one, one has to say that he has done a commendable job. David de Gea has been the club’s best player for the past three years and no player had scored anywhere near 20 goals for the Red Devils after Sir Alex Ferguson left but this year it hasn’t been the case. De Gea has performed exceptionally when called upon but he has been more of a spectator when compared to the last few years.In the attacking front, the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who Mourinho bought for free, has scored 28 goals so far — a far better return over Anthony Martial — who scored 17 in his debut season — last year. Not only that, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford also scored 10 goals each.Reuters PhotoThe 20-time league champions have already won the EFL Cup and are in the semi-finals of the Europa League – a competition that they have never won before. All this when he had to deal with several injuries time and again. In the last couple of matches he has had to play without a consistent pair at the back. Plus, Zlatan and Marcos Rojo being ruled out of the season after hurting themselves and Mata’s injury at one of the most crucial moments of the season has not helped his cause in any way.STILL FIGHTING FOR TROPHIESAfter another draw at home — against Swansea last night, they will play Celta Vigo next in the Europa League semis and if they can beat them over the two legs and win in the final as well – they earn direct qualification to the Champions League. They can still finish as high as third in the league as well. How is that bad for a team that played dull football and didn’t even manage to eke out results last year.Yes, Jose’s United have been boring as well and they have drawn 14 games, the highest in the league, but the Portuguese has built a solid defence and managed to build the foundation that was missing from the United of the last few years. His tactical genius saw Manchester City off last week, his masterclass helped United beat Chelsea at Old Trafford and his way of ‘somehow’ getting the job done has worked more often than not.advertisementThe team has to do a lot more with the likes of Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Ibrahimovic in the ranks — you’re expected to do bigger things and get silverware — agreed. But, Jose’s first season at most of his clubs has been about building a foundation and then winning a major trophy in his second. Be it his second spell at Chelsea or the one prior to it in Real Madrid.The football has been dreary mostly and the good work done by the Portuguese has certainly not brought results out in the open for people to see but if one judges by the performance of United compared to last few years, it’s not going to be difficult for them to realise the difference. Moreover, he has just had one pre-season to work with the team — it’s a team he took over but not his own. Once the transfer window comes and he gets his own set of players, this team will be a way more potent and a challenging one.Therefore, patience is the key here and if he delivers a Champions League spot, this season will be a good one for United to kick on from, laying the foundation for a trademark second season from the ‘Special One’.