Sir Alex Ferguson feels that Manchester United are making great progress under Jose Mourinho this season and says the Portuguese has “done a great job”.

The former Red Devils boss also believes the club have been “unlucky” in a number of games and could be closer to challenging Chelsea for the Premier League title.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, he said: “I think he has done a great job.

“You can see he has got to grips with the club.”

Mourinho had a task on his hand, when taking up the mantle of the club in May 2016, as he sought to reinvigorate a team that had lost its way under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

While his reign started well with maximum wins from his opening three games, a slump over the next seven Premier League matches saw many question whether Mourinho was the right man to take the club forward.

Despite remaining off the pace at the top of the standings, in sixth place, Ferguson still sees plenty of positives.

He added: “The team is playing really well and he has been very unlucky. He has had six 1-1 draws and in every game he has battered the opposition.

“If they hadn’t had all these draws, they would be there challenging Chelsea. That is the unfortunate part but he is going to have to live with that.”

Up next for United is a trip to Hull on Thursday for the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

“I think Jose is finding solutions now,” Ferguson continued. “There was a period earlier in the season when he wasn’t getting the decisions and his emotions boiled over. You see him now – he is calm and in control.

“That is the obvious observation I am making of the team now. The team is mirroring its manager.”

Wayne Rooney became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer when he netted an equaliser in the club’s 1-1 draw with Stoke over the weekend, to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s 249 goals Manchester United

Ferguson concluded: “On Saturday at Stoke, they played to the last kick of the ball. They never gave in and got their rewards to take something from the game with that great Rooney goal.

“And did you see what he did? Ran to the halfway line. No celebration. Pointed to the ball as if to say ‘get it, we are going to win this’. That is exactly the spirit Jose has created.”