Can't Take It No Mour, Jose

by John Howard
28th Aug 2018

So the ‘Special One’ defiantly pointed out that he has been the mastermind behind three Premier League title triumphs in a rather fiery post-match press conference following Manchester United’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.

One more than all other 19 managers put together. So there!

Brian Clough guided Nottingham Forest to two European Cups, but was relegated with the same club 13 years later.

I don’t think even the most ardent Manchester City or Liverpool fan would believe in their right minds that United will be in the bottom three come May 2019, but many may be pondering a wager that they will finish outside the top four when the last ball is kicked next year. Should that be the case, few will really care about Jose Mourinho’s trio of Premier League crowns. And why should they? None have been for the Red Devils.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Mourinho would do well to think on the above Charles Darwin quote, as football changes constantly, even if you don’t. Money, mentality, playing style, the relationship with the media, all examples of an evolutionary process that stands still for no one.

Let’s go back to 2004. A confident Portuguese coach arrives in England to take charge of the now mega-rich Chelsea. He sweeps in on the back of European success with Porto and quickly establishes the West London club as the team to beat in the Premier League, with two consecutive championships. His young, humorous, cocky exterior is in stark contrast to the two big guns at the time, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

Mourinho would leave the Premier League in 2007 following a number of disagreements with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Managerial stints with Inter Milan and Real Madrid would bring even more success (including a treble for the Italian giants) before the prodigal son made a return to Stamford Bridge. Another league title was overshadowed by a tempestuous tenure and in May 2016 United came calling.

The pattern has (so far) remained the same. Mourinho has won trophies, albeit not another title, but he has also courted controversy, aimed verbal digs at the board and seemingly undermines his squad on an alarmingly regular basis. The latter is of course a manager’s right, but does it yield anything positive? Look at United’s results so far.

And on blaming the board, digest this: the former Real Madrid coach has spent more than £370m during his time with the Red Devils, pushing Mourinho’s total spending as a manager to over £550m.

Compare that to Wenger, who retired only last season, only £430,850,000 spent, but through diligent spending and purchasing only actually lost £13,800,000 in that time, with the Frenchman winning the league three times.

2004 saw Mourinho arrive like the cool kid who joins the sixth form and immediately impresses the masses and challenges the more established order. Now, in 2018, it is he who is the order, looking to re-establish a rapidly falling power while two new kids – let’s call them Pep and Jurgen – rule the roost and look loathed to let another in on their playground.

No way Jose!

A disappointing transfer window will have come as a shock to the Old Trafford faithful. This current crop is not good enough to win the league. The capture of Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer was a good move, but needed to be followed by other top-quality signings, most notably in the back four. A series of not-for-sale responses and players declaring their desires to play elsewhere has called into question Mourinho’s playing style and man-management.

Paul Pogba, the Frenchman has so far enjoyed and endured an indifferent career at England’s most successful club. The 25-year-old, who became football’s most expensive transfer when he re-joined United for €105m (£89.3m) in 2016, has to be the star that the team is built around. Performances at the World Cup would suggest that the former Juventus man has the tools to inspire Old Trafford once more, but is the grumpy Mourinho the man to do it?

Storming out of his press conference will not be the only place he will be hastily moving away from in my opinion.

And so to his replacement. If only there was an enigmatic character, with experience of winning Europe’s top prize three times in consecutive seasons with a footballing super power. Whose name and previous genius on the pitch would attract the world’s best.

You still looking for a job, Mr. Zidane?

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