It appears that Mateo Kovacic has rejected a once in a lifetime opportunity to move to a club like Man Utd. But is it?
The reason for the rejection is that he doesn’t like Jose Mourinho’s tactics and the way he has set Man Utd. up to play. Kovacic obviously believes his style of play does not suit Mourinho’s – surely something he should know about himself by now. Does this make him right to reject the move? I personally wouldn’t use the word ‘right’ in this context, as if Kovacic has come out and made a statement like this, fair play to him. This shows psychological maturity to see past the money and the status it would bring, and a more grounded interest in the game itself. If the move wouldn’t suit his strengths as a player, then logic dictates: why then make the move?
Kovacic boasts some great attributes as a winger. His ball mastery, quick burst of pace, eye for a pass, defensive capabilities and his ability to consistently look to play forward can be frightening in some games. On reflection, it is arguably a good decision not to join Utd.
Recently under Mourinho, Utd’s tactics look more an attempt not to lose rather than to win, whereas Kovacic is a player who looks for freedom to show what he can do, to push the boundaries and go for the win, rather than be constrained to this style of playing. Combined with the fact that he is only 24 and declining the opportunity to work with one the brightest minds in football today (if not ever!), he clearly shows the kind of maturity and self-awareness required for top level football. He obviously wants to play, therefore he should have the choice in which club he thinks is best, if he leaves Real Madrid.
‘I admire Kovacic - he rejected a big money move to a historic club that he didn’t feel was right for him. He obviously understands, in depth, his style of play and the teams that are more suited to him. So why would he settle for a team that wouldn’t bring the best out of him?’
‘Kovacic’s not the only player to openly feel this way. Mourinho is undeniably a talented manager, but what’s happening at Man Utd.?’
That said, on a selfish note, it would be great to see a talent such as his in the Premier League. If Real Madrid are open to selling him, other clubs internationally would be lining up in the race for his signature. Premier League team Spurs, or even Man City, would be perfect for him. But, ultimately, the decision doesn’t just lie with Kovacic. External factors are at play too. He might be being pushed for time by Real Madrid, agents will be whispering words of wisdom… Will these influence his decision? Of course they will, but remember: a year at a club you’re unhappy at is a long time, and you don’t want to kill that enthusiasm, or worse, rest it on a bench or with defensive tactics. To be the best, he needs room and encouragement to grow. Man Utd. is just one team, there will be others.
In life, to be happy, you have to make decisions that you believe will best suit you and will propel you forward to achieve your ambitions and goals. If you aren’t happy, your mental wellbeing will decrease, affecting other areas of your life too. It may be hard work and time-consuming – you may even be criticised - but it will be worth it in the end. Kovacic’s current thinking highlights that he does not believe adjusting to Mourinho’s style of play would make him happy, and he has the right to this.
Kudos to Kovacic. Few players would turn down the opportunity to play at United and under Mourinho, though more seem to be lately. It doesn’t even seem like Mourinho himself wants to be there.
So, is this a really a Kovacic question? Or is there more to it. Has Mourinho started to lose player respect?