He is undoubtedly one of the greatest managers of all time, with an impressive record for picking up trophies, but are his summer rants a sign that it is the beginning of the end of Jose Mourinho’s time as Manchester United manager?
Much has been said about Mourinho over the years, with the public becoming bewitched by the Portuguese ever since he announced himself as ‘The Special One’ upon his arrival at Chelsea back in 2004.
There is no doubting his pedigree, winning 25 major trophies, including eight league titles in four different countries, and two Champions League crowns with underdogs Porto and Inter Milan.
While his reputation as a serial winner precedes him, so does his reputation of being a bit of a moaner and regularly developing ‘third season syndrome,’ a debilitating illness that seems to cause the Portuguese boss to have a meltdown in his third season at a big club.
Signs and symptoms of this evil illness include, but are not limited to, whinging about signings, whinging about a lack of signings, publicly berating players, and generally blaming everyone else for absolutely everything rather than himself. In years gone by, doctors have found no cure for this debilitating disease, with the only known treatment being the termination of his contract.
To date, he has suffered three occasions of this sickness, twice at Chelsea, and once at Real Madrid, but there are signs that Mourinho is heading down a similar path at Manchester United.
Despite the Portuguese regularly claiming that he wants to stay on as Manchester United boss for the long-term, he still hasn’t purchased a property in the North West, with his family still living in London while he lives in a Manchester hotel.
However, the last two weeks have all been about Jose Mourinho, with the writing team here at The Football Faithful constantly waiting for what he is going to whinge about next. Is he looking for a way out, or do his rants have a point to them?
To listen to him speak, you would think that he is the only manager in the Premier League to have had players go to the World Cup, or the only team to have struggled to sign players.
However, look at Spurs for instance. Eight key players made it to the final weekend at the World Cup compared to United’s seven, and they have made no signings whatsoever, but we haven’t heard Mauricio Pochettino complaining? In fact it has been quite the opposite.
When you compare what Mourinho has said this summer to that of his counterparts, it really makes you think that all is not right at Old Trafford.
While other managers have said they have been happy to use their youngsters this summer and give them an opportunity around the first team, Mourinho has belittled Manchester United’s young players, basically saying they aren’t good enough:
“Do you want him (Alexis Sanchez) to be very happy with the players he has around him?”
What kind of message does that send out? But it wasn’t the only derogatory comment aimed towards the youngsters.
“This is not my squad, not even half, not even 30 per cent of my squad.”
Again, what message does that send out? ‘You kids haven’t got a chance of getting any game time this season’? It’s pretty pathetic from the Portuguese, especially at a club like Manchester United, who have a rich tradition of bringing young players through their famed academy. He should be saying things like ‘it’s their chance to impress, it’s their chance to stake a claim in the squad’ – but no.
Then there have been his rants about a lack of signings, although this time, his rants may have some substance.
United last won the title back in 2013, and even then, most onlookers said that it was the worst Man Utd side to have ever won the league. Since then, that title winning squad has been broken down by David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, and has been replaced by players like Marouane Fellaini, Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian to name just a few.
It has been glaringly obvious that this would be Mourinho’s biggest ever job to transform this mishmashed side of average players back into a world class juggernaut of a club, and it would take an awful lot of money to do so.
He has already brought in some big name players, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, but it isn’t enough. There are other areas of the team that simply isn’t up to scratch, and for a serial winner like Mourinho, the board should be doing more to support him.
It is clear to most that Jones, Smalling, Rojo and maybe even Lindelof aren’t good enough, hence United’s interest in Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld and Yerry Mina. But it’s not just the heart of defence that isn’t up to scratch, the full backs aren’t either.
With the current evolution of football, the full back is now one of the most important positions on the pitch and when you look at Man City last season, their record breaking success can be partially traced back to Pep Guardiola selling all four of his full backs last summer, and replacing them with quality.
Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have done a decent enough job, but this is Manchester United, this is the top end of the Premier League, decent just isn’t good enough, and they aren’t getting any younger. While Luke Shaw has the potential to be one of the best left-backs in the World and is likely to start the first game of the season next week, he has rarely shown the desire to fulfil that potential.
Then there is right-wing, a position neglected for years, and while the side have three wide players for the left flank (Sanchez, Martial and Rashford), you could argue that there are none for the right, with Juan Mata/Jesse Lingard often asked to do the job, despite being more comfortable and effective through the middle.
Mourinho’s message about the lack of signings was a thinly veiled attack on the board for not giving him the tools he needs, and while reports suggest he still has the full backing of the board, if third season syndrome kicks in with full effect, and he loses the dressing room once again like he did at Chelsea and Madrid, that backing will quickly dwindle.
Only time will tell if Mourinho’s comments are part of a plot to create a siege mentality within his squad, or part of his latest meltdown.
What are your thoughts on Mourinho? Leave us a comment below.