It’s international break and Manchester United and Mourinho are trying to make the most of the time to salvage and rebuild what they can. Behind the scenes, the club is gradually making changes and planning for life post Mourinho, whose time at the club is a ticking time-bomb made worse by the series of losses, draws, near scrape victories and numerous bust-ups with senior players and club officials.
Facing an uncertain future at Old Trafford, reports suggest the club is actively searching for a potential successor, but nobody’s bitten. A heavily uncomfortable situation. With training ground disputes, questionable on pitch decisions, no team structure and no club structure, United are in limb. A situation not helped by the hierarchy. The ‘more money than sense’ Glazer family and Ed Woodward are controlling the club like a business, not the world-class footballing family it is. The club is being run independently; there’s no real communication between the manager and hierarchy. It needs to change. Or what’s going to happen next? We follow the likes of Chelsea, sacking managers every 2nd or 3rd season? Some people argue that at least they won titles. Urgh, yes, because the club had some footballing know how with Michael Emenalo and Marina Granovskaia controlling the transfers, football operations and maintaining the core values and style.
For 26 years, United didn’t require a technical director. Sir Alex was around – a strong leader whose ideologies created the club’s values. He didn’t need an upper hand; he understood the ethos of the club and the importance of the youth, which Sir Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy started. The Glazers were busy securing sponsors during Sir Alex’s final season. They didn’t properly consider life after him or who would run the club after the man spearheading the football operations and managing the team retired. There was no one to stop David Moyes (busy targeting Jagielka, Fellaini and co.) and they club didn’t try to sign Kroos – they knew Moyes would work under a budget so spend the money on God knows what instead.
‘United’s board have been negligent. It’s not impossible that Mourinho would be sent packing just to cover the Glazers’ tracks.’
Everybody knows Mourinho’s history with authority issues, but they still signed him. It was a good decision. Mourinho is great at getting what he wants and with the right financial backing all the players he needs. Mkhitarayan, Zlatan, Pogba and Bailly won them the Europa and EFL Cup in the first season, but Lukaku, Lindelof and Matic failed the following year, with United missing out on Perisic when the club refused to pay a few extra million. They missed out on Bale too, and failed to get a left-back or experienced center-back for 2 whole seasons. There’s no stability. Yet Mourinho keeps asking for more players suiting his defensive style.
‘Not a fan of youth and attacking football, Mourinho prefers experience whilst the Heads prefer youth, drooling over their marketability, not their skill.’
Without a Director of Football, this clash of ideologies will continue (if you can say that. The club owners don’t even have a football ideology). Mourinho is free to play defensive football because nobody with a footballing brain is there to keep an eye on him, and when he does make a good decision nobody is there to back him or to properly explain the importance to the owners. (If it doesn’t make sense from a ‘business point of view’, financial backing is a no-go.)
The biggest problem: the manager is always under fire and the club hasn’t supported him at all and doesn’t understand the football behind Manchester United FOOTBALL Club.
‘United are not a modern FOOTBALL club and not a stable club. They need to follow the examples of Inter Milan, Ajax and Roma who employ former players who know the values of the club. Strong values implemented season upon season.’
Mourinho isn’t blameless. It’s a mess and he vents his frustrations on the pitch and the players, who have to do what they can under the circumstances. Scott McTominay plays defense, and strength and defensive players like Fellaini, Matic and Herrera slow the game down. This isn’t the United we know. Where is the fast and high-octane attacking game play?
Fact: Mourinho is a great manager. However, until someone stops him, he will continue playing ‘Dinosaur’ football. United haven’t had a solid defensive pairing for 3 seasons; they still haven’t. Eric Bailly, who is arguably the club’s best center-back, is rarely selected or substituted off within 20 minutes. There is no stability in defense, and that only added salt to the wounds when we were denied an experienced center-back, world class right winger and attacking midfielder. Sanchez plays in the wrong position and public criticism of Pogba is the definition of playing the Jose way and the not United way.
‘Given the attitude of the board, United’s fixtures against Juventus and Chelsea will make or break Mourinho’s future at the club. It’s not looking good.’
Mourinho is a serial winner and I will support him to till the end. United shouldn’t sack him, but given the state of things and without a Director of Football United aren’t going to win a major titles any time soon.
The constant disputes between the board, manager and team aren’t going to get the club anywhere. Even if you’re the best manager on the planet, without the club understanding football and good communication, it won’t work. Mourinho won’t be able to mentally do his job properly, he’ll keep taking out his anger like he has been, and the other players will begin to lose confidence in him, just like the senior squad members have. He is unintentionally harming the club’s reputation, stature, image and values all because of an ignorant board and no footballing mind to look after him.
It’s a two-sided problem. Things need to change at the club and fast – appointing a new Director before January. If they do that, a man who knows the club’s values could reduce the burden and guide Mourinho to plan for the future. It is late, but it is possible. Otherwise, even if he goes, the same thing will happen with the next manager and the next manager and the next… until something breaks the cycle.
For success, you need continuity and strength of views, a club uniting together… Just like the foundations Sir Alex created. Manchester United needs to once again be United.