Jose Mourinho finally has the job he wanted so long. Ever since his first spell in charge of Chelsea, Mourinho cast envious glances at the position at the position Alex Ferguson occupied for over a quarter of a century. Like a married man casting lustful glances at his best friend’s other half. Mourinho and his “people,” whatever the feck that means, were even lobbying for the Manchester United job behind the scenes. All while Louis Van Gaal was still in the role. For all of Van Gaal’s many, many faults, he deserved better from a man he helped to mentor.
So, it goes without saying the notoriously moody thinking woman’s low-rent Latino heartthrob – Antonio Banderas is clearly more A-list – couldn’t be happier. Skipping and cartwheeling around Carrington like everyday is the first day of Spring. Right?
Wrong. From the first game of the season Jose has a face like a wet Wednesday in Wigan, utterly grim and his mood is seemingly even worse than he looks.
That mood is being reflected in the performances of his players. United have been thoroughly miserable since losing the Manchester Derby where United ceded the entire first half without even so much as a whimper. The match that most summed things up was not the 4-0 smashing received at Stamford Bridge but the monotonous goalless draw against Liverpool a week earlier. The barefaced cynicism in United’s performance that day and the fact some fans were happy grinding out one of the most nihilistic performances in United history was a sign all was not well.
The latest instalment of Mourinho attempting a longer version of the portrayal of Brian Clough in The Damned United, involves him laying into his own players as being too soft. First Henrikh Mhkitaryan, a new signing that he signed! Still, that was nowhere close to being as baffling as his comments in the aftermath of United’s victory against a god-awful Swansea team.
Rather than praise his players and capitalise on things to raise the spirits of the club after a needed win, Mourinho chose to wage psychological warfare on some of his own players. His comments on Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling were not only confusing but needlessly crass. Smalling, it has transpired, is now injured for four weeks with a broken toe in two places. No doctor in the world would be indecent enough to clear him to play. Indeed, it appears Smalling had been carrying the injury for sometime, including the ignominious defeat to Chelsea. So much for not playing through the pain.
Shaw, has not long ago returned from a truly hideous injury. By right’s it’s a minor miracle he is even playing after PSV Eindhoven’s Hector Moreno attempted to amputate his leg in September 2015. Shaw is clearly still getting over the psychological issues of a traumatic injury. People need to show some patience.
Mourinho’s solution is to brand them as soft. He has previous of course, attempting to bully Chelsea team doctor Eva Carniero when god forbid, she tried to do her job and treat and injured player. Apparently, Mourinho’s study of Galen and the four humours trumps any actual proper knowledge of medicine.
In a world where we have seen the likes of Gary Speed and Robert Enke commit suicide and Michael Johnson – one of England’s brightest talents – retiring and wanting to be “left alone,” such public treatment of players is reprehensible. It makes you wonder what the bloody hell this incredibly irritating man’s problem is?!
Mourinho’s record as a manager is without dispute. Eight League titles, Two Champions Leagues, One UEFA Cup/Europa League and seven domestic cups, all in the last 13 years. Not bad Jose. I stand and applaud. However, take a closer look at that record and you will see a worrying pattern. From 2003’s UEFA Cup win at Porto to his Champions League win with Internazionale. Mourinho won seventeen competitive trophies. From beginning his spell at Real Madrid in 2010 to 2016, he has won six.
The writer and journalist Jonathan Wilson, rightly makes the point that managers rarely maintain success for more than a decade at the top level. The constant reassessment and revaluation is astoundingly draining. Also, for men who have learnt to be hard-headed it is tough to change. Why should I change? This always worked before! Its an easy trap easy to fall into and most managers eventually do. Arsene Wenger I’m looking in your direction.
His approach to man-management, which is to be about as subtle and empathetic as a sledgehammer shot to the testicles, will alienate most players after a while. This is not because players are whiny, overpaid babies in the modern era – although some certainly are – people just get tired. Even Helenio Herrera, the man to which Mourinho is most often compared, dropped off on the fifteen-year mark, winning only two trophies after the European Cup win of 1965. Even that, was a freakishly long run with the heavy dark cloud of illegal doping hanging over it.
Mourinho’s run of success has been 12 years and the latter half of that has not been as productive as the first.
Maybe that’s what’s bothering Mourinho, not Chris Smalling’s toe.
Often criticised for blowing up in his third season – or fatal season as Bela Guttman used to say – now Mourinho is imploding just months into his new job. Struck dumb by his once successful methods no longer working. Mourinho’s run may well be over and he is waging an epic, internal struggle to come to terms with it.
Its easy to forget what a freakish exception Ferguson was. From his time at Aberdeen, he sustained success for three decades as a manager. Not through sheer force of will but being a master of reinvention. Like a Glaswegian, slightly sozzled, rough-as-arseholes David Bowie. Ferguson was always evolving, which often involved changing his staff to learn and discover new ideas. Only the late Valeriy Lobanovskyi could match that run and he, took a well-paid jolly to the Middle East for a while before returning to conquer all with Dynamo Kyiv in the late 1990’s.
United fan’s defending Mourinho seem to be looking for the next Alex Ferguson. They won’t get one.
United shouldn’t sack Mourinho right now of course. He must at least be given the season. If only because the dim-witted, cretinous quislings working for the Glazers have painted the club into a corner with yet another ill-thought out expensive appointment. And obviously, I, like everyone else concerned at United wants Mourinho to turn things around.
Unfortunately for his own enormous, Donald Trump-like ego, this requires him reviewing and changing his methods. The loudmouthed, rebellious trickster, challenging the establishment should be shut away. Mourinho is well into his fifties now and is the highest paid manager in the world. He IS the establishment; his old role has since been taken on by the likes of Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp.
If Mourinho doesn’t change. Then its time to accept his best days have passed him by.