A downcast Mourinho: He has lost his midas touch.
As Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix sprinted down the Old Trafford touchline, punching his fist in the air with the verve and energy of a teenager after his Porto side knocked out English giants Manchester United out of the Champions League on that night in March of 2004,few then would have imagined him being on the dugout 14 years later,looking sullen and downcast ,leading Manchester United to nobody knows where.Then, the figure of arguably the game’s greatest ,manager,Sir Alex Ferguson hovered around Old Trafford like an omen. The defeat to Porto though painful,would not last long as Ferguson would go on to win a handful of more trophies before he dramatically called time on his glittering managerial career. It is not a secret that all Manchester United fans long for the Fergie years,the same way some Americans are wishing Barack Obama had remained president.
Jose Mourinho’ s Porto stint which saw him winning the coveted Champions League trophy saw him rise to managerial stardom. He had a swagger and energy about him that was hard to ignore.In June 2003, Russian billionaire oligarch Roman Arkdyevich Abramovich had assumed control of Chelsea Football Club and set in motion an ambitious project to take Chelsea to the pinnacle of English soccer. Exactly a year later ,in June 2004 he hired the self -proclaimed Special One, Jose Mourinho as manager. Jose Mourinho weaved his magic and in his first season won the English Premier League with a then staggering points haul of 95. Chelsea retained the title a year later,won two FA Cups and League Cups while he was at the helm.He had by now become a household name in the game.He exuded an arrogance that was hard to miss. Matters came to head and clashes with the Chelsea hierachy saw him leave in 2007. He joined Serie A side Inter Milan where he won his second Champions league and a number of trophies including the Scudetto .Another 3 years and he left and joined La Liga giants Real Madrid .At Real Madrid his wane began. Although he won the 2011/12 La Liga title, Barcelona’s swashbuckling football was overshadowing everything he was doing and Mourinho ,who always wants to be the headline increasingly became tense and feisty during press conferences. Soon after, he left Real Madrid and rejoined Chelsea in 2013 .
On his return to Chelsea he said ” he had changed and matured “. He won the title for Chelsea the 3rd time before being sacked a couple of months later,amid rumours of dressing room unrest caused by his arrogance and bad man management skills. A few days before his sacking ,he went on a rant during the press conference ,reminding everyone who cared to listen that he was the best and etcetera. Manchester United had flirted with mediocrity after the departure of Ferguson, culminating in the disastrous appointments of first David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. The club terribly lost its way and when Jose Mourinho was appointed in May 2016,a ray of hope filtered through the club. He had won trophies everywhere he had gone. To be fair to him,his Manchester United stint has not been a disaster per se . He has won the Europa League ,League Cup and finished second last season,the best finish the club has managed post Ferguson .It is the way Manchester United have not made really tangible progress in their long known playing identity that has sent tongues wagging and the way their cross town rivals Manchester City have been progressing in the same period.
The way the team plays is hardly entertaining .There seems to be no identity .The argument that Mourinho is about results is now,like his methods, outdated.Pep Guardiola is about results and does it in an breath taking way,so does Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and even other less known and young managers like Marco Silva are trying to do the same. He is failing to get results that can make Manchester United a force again,so who and what does his “about results” type of play benefit? Every coach is about results, coaching is about results and Manchester United had a manager ,who was about results too but did it an exciting way. You would need tonnes of patience to sit through consistent Manchester United games under Mourinho.They are a bore, they are dull.There is no imagination ,nothing that leaves you salivating for more,it’s a torturous exercise. He began this season in a very negative mood,having “baby cried” all summer about lack of transfers and time to work with his team.Granted Ed Woodward is a mess,a worst mistake than signing Bebe and seems clueless but Mourinho has been steadfastly backed by the board and has spent huge amounts of money on the squad but there has been no change or improvement in the style of play. His negative mood has created a very bad vibe around the team and he keeps talking about his past but other young managers like Pep have come onto the scene and achieved a lot,winning titles in 3 different nations too and keeps playing exciting football. Mourinho is caught in a time warp where he thinks he is still the best manager out there but the Special One mojo is long gone.His methods and approach are past their sell by date.
The harsh reality is that he has been overtaken by events and his sullen and arrogant moods are not helping Manchester United at the moment .Does he even know his best eleven? He keeps chopping and changing players and systems that it’s hard to even tell what he is trying to do. There is no direction or plan that one can point to.The body language of the players is wrong and the buck stops with him. A coach who storms out of press conferences demanding respect for his three league titles in England and gives tense one word answers is an indication of a guy who is frustrated,a guy who thinks his past can influence an ever changing present and a guy who is at the tip of the cliff and at the end his rope!His so -called third season syndrome ,where his relationship with players and club always breakdown seems to be in full swing already. Unless a miracle happens,it is difficult to see him lasting the season at United. He is petulant, sulky and sickeningly arrogant . The club must do the right thing and pull the plug on him while the season is young and find a suitable replacement who can possibly redeem what,with only three games played , looks like a very long season in the offing for Manchester United.
George Damson is a coat of many colours.
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