Jose Mourinho is on the verge of extinction, United should cut him loose now
Jose Mourinho has entered his third year at Manchester United in almost the exact same way he did at his previous clubs. History should have been a clear indicator as to what this could have meant for the club when Jose signed, but fans were optimistic; Sir Alex Ferguson's great rival had taken over his legacy.
Instead of working towards progress, Jose has stagnated the club.
Mourinho has had a spectacular career, winning trophies with multiple clubs, endearing himself to some fans and becoming a target to others. He has always done things his own way, and his achievements in the game have to be recognized and respected.
But it has now been 8 years since Mourinho actually had a real impact on a team.
Yes, he won the title with Chelsea a few years ago, but he was merely a figurehead to that team. The team consisted of veterans like John Terry, Didier Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic. He also had the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Willian, Nemanja Matic and of course Eden Hazard – all of whom were close to their peak.
Yet, the season after his title win, Jose fell out with everyone, especially Hazard. Chelsea were awful in the 2015-2016 season, but almost the exact same squad won them the title the year after.
At Real Madrid, Jose lost the dressing room – Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo - in particular. The signs have always been there. Mercurial talents and Jose Mourinho don’t mesh well together. This is no longer a coincidence.
Why then, did United and Jose sign Paul Pogba? Pogba proved to the world that he is a team player; one who can make sacrifices for the benefit of the team when playing under the right coach. Pogba, the normally flashy player, was unusually cryptic after United’s first game against Leicester this season.
It is painfully obvious that there exists a tension between manager and player.
Jose has seen his power over the club decline over the past couple of years, and is digging his feet in the sand, as he always does when the going gets tough. His stubbornness led him to use Ander Herrera at centre-back last night against Spurs (to obviously make a point), but this isn't going to do him any good.
The club have realized that appointing Jose in the first place might have been a mistake, and are thus not backing the man in the transfer market.
The type of manager that he is – a collector of players in their peak – is no longer needed in the sport on a club level. The days of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger – the long-term managers – might be over, but what is certain is that the days of Mourinho most definitely are.
Talent is being dug up at a much younger age, and with the amount of money clubs spend on potential, it is clear that managers too need to adapt by bringing themselves to be more personable. They need to bring the best out of the talent they possess through coaching and motivation rather than press battles and brash statements.
Woodward must be ruefully looking over at Daniel Levy, who tied up manager Mauricio Pochettino to the club early on this year. Unlike United, Spurs have planned for the future and wrapped up deals for the players and manager to ensure their long-term success.
Meanwhile, Liverpool (United’s biggest and most hated rivals) under Klopp have gone from strength to strength. Klopp has identified his side’s weak points, and gone after players who could strengthen his squad.
Many would argue that with the amount of money in the game, it is ideal for a manager like Mourinho to shine.
But Jose is not a nurturing figure. He is a collector, who gets the best out of football players already at their peak.
United were never going to bow down to his demands. Fans demand the use of young players, especially the likes of Marcus Rashford, who is one of their own. That is what United do. They are the world’s biggest club, yes, but they also show faith in their own, and create superstars from within.
Rashford meanwhile, has stagnated badly under Jose. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise at all with Jose's history.
Zinedine Zidane is living proof of what you can do when you have an endless supply of money and the masterful ability to manage different superstars’ egos. But the difference between Zidane and Mourinho is the former's ability to keep both the players and fans pleased.
Zidane managed to keep both Bale and Isco involved and content despite not playing them regularly, while at the same time keeping the notoriously demanding Madridistas at bay by winning them the Champions League year after year.
Zidane, in many ways, was exactly the manger Real needed; he lives and breathes the club and it is the history that he has with the club that brought him so much success.
Meanwhile, Mourinho had absolutely no connection with United prior to joining, and is more of a mercenary than a father figure.
In the past, he had silverware on his CV to help boost his credentials. He is starting to lose that credit with every passing day.
Last season was a troubling one for United. Despite spending only marginally less than Man City (United’s net spend was 138 million pounds, while City’s was 145 million), United finished miles behind City in second place, and saw their three biggest rivals stake a better claim to the three biggest European club trophies. Chelsea beat United to the FA Cup, Man City beat everyone to the Premier League, and Liverpool almost pulled off the impossible in the Champions League, eventually losing to Real Madrid.
Jose ended up trophy-less last year and equated winning the Community Shield, the League Cup and the Europa League the season before to winning a treble (even though it technically is one).
He also bullies young players regularly, and uses the press to boost his own brand rather than the club’s as a whole. Mourinho – the anti-United and the “necessary evil” many fans thought he was – is fading away fast and no matter what he says, he only stands for himself. That is not how you appease United fans.
And yet the Red Devils boast a squad that any manager would relish working with. Sure there are areas to be strengthened, but that is the case with every club. It is the man in charge's job to get the best out of what he has, and strengthen where they are weak.
Identifying Willian as a transfer target, when the fullback is a clear position of weakness isn't good leadership.
Mourinho cannot hide behind the players anymore. He has to take responsibility and look to improve (but of course, he won’t).
It’s understandable that a manager wouldn’t want to admit that the game has passed them by. Louis Van Gaal and Fabio Capello were perfect examples of managers whose stubborn attitudes kept them in the game longer than they should have been, but to their own detriment.
At least Van Gaal can say he gave Marcus Rashford his debut at United. Mourinho, on the other hand, has bullied Luke Shaw into submission, isolated the supremely talented Anthony Martial and has continually sparred with Paul Pogba, stunting his growth as a player.
It is clear that Mourinho has certain expectations of character from his players, but young players need to be nurtured in order to have their potential fulfilled, not consistently knocked down.
If anything, Mourinho will be the perfect international team manager, and should Portugal come calling, he has to answer. He can happily play the role of a collector as an international manager.
Not having to be around his players all day would mean that he cannot influence their psyche nearly as much as he does now, and could probably get the best out of them when he does see them.
But at United, Mourinho has nowhere else to go. This season is make or break for him.
The only set of fans who will truly welcome him back with open arms are those at Porto and Inter. But Mourinho’s stubborn ego-driven vision will not see him go back ‘down’ to the level of the Portuguese League, and unless Inter can sort out their financial issues and give Mourinho the platform he wants (much like he had in 2010), it is very unlikely that he will go back there either.
And considering it took Inter 8 years to (finally) get back into the Champions League after the wreckage he left behind when he left, they might not think it wise bringing him back either.
United have to be decisive and, for the lack of a better word, 'united' as a club now more than ever. Clearing out the squad should have been the biggest priority in the transfer window, but instead, the board threw money at Shakhtar for Fred and decided to make Sanchez one of the richest men in football.
Young and Valencia might have had good seasons last year, but they have no right to be in the United squad.
Mourinho is right in that he wasn’t backed in the transfer market, but it is his own doing. The club know that Mourinho isn’t going to be around much longer, and thus chose not to back him.
While it might be rash to remove Jose right away, with Zidane waiting in the wings, United do have options. Pogba and Martial will both be excited to see their compatriot potentially taking over, as will youngsters Rashford, Pereira, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes. Zidane managed Madrid as a meritocracy, choosing the likes of Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez ahead of Bale and Isco, and should he take over United, there will be a renewed sense of belief amongst players in the club.
United fans want beautiful football much like that of Sir Alex’s time, and there were too many occasions last season when they were put to sleep rather than entertained. Zidane can bring that back.
Winning a trophy can no longer hide the cracks that exist within the structure of the club. United's rebuilding process has been staggered and broken since Sir Alex left.
But the age of Jose is over. He was never the right man to lead them forward into the new era. Jose needs to re-evaluate his leadership style (it’s highly unlikely that he will) or the toxicity that constantly follows will end up being his own downfall. Jose is a manager on the verge of extinction, and United would be wise to get rid of him soon.