Jose Mourinho should just get on with his job
After guiding Manchester United to it's worst start to a Premier League season in over 25 years, the bullish Mourinho put up a characteristic defense of his achievements, pompously demanding for respect, by stating that he had won a total of three Premier League titles, which is one more than the other 19 managers combined.
As much as there is a lot of truth in that, however, a closer look at his statement would show that his grandstanding is not as awe-inspiring as it looks at first site.
Of all the current 20 Premier League managers, only Mauricio Pochetino has stayed longer than Jurgen Klopp at his current job as a Premier League coach, with the Liverpool manager being appointed in October of 2015. It means the 51-year-old former Dortmund coach has not even spent the requisite time in England to win the three titles Mourinho is talking about. Of the remaining 18, seven have less than 2 years managerial experience in the Premier League, while four made their EPL managerial bows this season.
Going further, Mourinho's self-praise fails to highlight the fact that two of his three league titles came way back in 2005 and 2006 when over half of the managers he is referencing had not even begun their managerial careers.
It also doesn't point out that two of the 19 managers he demeaned have triumphed over him in a Premier League campaign in the last four seasons, or that both Unai Emery and Pep Guardiola won league titles only last season while Mourinho's previous league success came back in 2015.
Jose Mourinho arrived Manchester United amidst much fanfare in 2016 after the regression the club experienced under first David Moyes and later Louis Van Gaal, as fans believed the arrival of a serial winner with a proven track record would help turn their fortunes around instantly.
However, three seasons in and those hopes are beginning to fade. There were three trophies won in Jose's debut campaign, albeit none in the calibre of those the Old Trafford club were used to winning over the years. Despite the sixth-place league finish, his first season was taken as a sign of progress even if the football was most times boring and fans believed the club was on track to restore the glory years of yore.
Much was made of Mourinho's second season syndrome, and pointed out that he had won the league title in each of his previous jobs, so last season was expected to be the one in which Mourinho pieced together the final pieces of his grand plan, after the trials of his first season.
However, things did not pan out according to plans. Jose's Manchester United were efficient last season even if laborious, and might very well have triumphed in the PL but for the presence of the absolute juggernaut that was Pep's City.
Despite achieving the club's highest league finish post-Fergie, there were lots of grumbles over the way the season panned out, with Manchester United's spineless exit to Sevilla in the round-of-16 at Old Trafford the highlight of the ultra-pragmatic football played by Mourinho last season.
What even made the situation more appalling was his press conference after the elimination, where he spoke about United's 'legacy' in the Champions League, and made it seems like that it was no big deal that inferior opposition eliminated Manchester United at Old Trafford and that fans should have expected it.
Mourinho's public hiding of his players including Martial, Rashford, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba also didn't help matters, neither has his poor record in the transfer market where most of the roughly £400m worth of signings he has made have not lived up to the billing, apart from arguably Romelu Lukaku.
Despite trying to make it seem like the criticisms of his United tenure are unfounded, and making much of the fact of the tendency for the press to blow things out of proportion, the bottom line is that much of the nit-picking of his time at Old Trafford are justified.
Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest managers in the history of football, that is a fact beyond doubt. And one key component of his legendary achievements was his ability to get his players to key into his methods wholeheartedly and make them go out on the pitch of play ready to die for him, similar to what Diego Simeone is doing at Atletico Madrid.
His players once held him in high esteem, and it would be difficult to find one of his wards from his early days at Porto, Chelsea or Inter Milan who speaks ill of him, they still revere him to this day. Indeed, the commitment from Inter players to him was so legendary, that they did not take kindly to his departure after the treble-winning campaign, with Materazzi claiming incoming manager Rafa Benitez forced the players to take down pictures of Jose Mourinho around the training ground.
That seems to no longer be the case, having left in controversial circumstances at his previous two jobs, first at Real Madrid where he fell out with a number of crucial dressing room figures including club captain Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo then later at his beloved Chelsea where he claimed he had been betrayed by his players upon his sack by the club in December with the then defending champions hovering around the relegation places.
That trend has continued at United, with the 55-year-old having already had major public fall-outs with some first-team players including Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
Another criticism levelled at the foot of Mourinho has been the regression experienced by a host of United players since he arrived. Apart from Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia, arguably no other player at United has improved in the last two seasons.
Marcus Rashford looks a shadow of the player he was when he made his debut in 2016, while 2015 Golden Boy winner has seen the likes of Leroy Sane and Marco Asensio who he beat to the award overtake him.
Elsewhere in other departments, the players haven't fared much better. Pogba continues with his Jekkyl and Hyde performances, Smalling and Jones in the centre of defence are still as unreliable as ever, while Mata looks lost anytime he steps out onto the pitch for United.
This comes in sharp contrast to Mou's early managerial career, particularly at Porto and Chelsea, where he took hitherto unknown players like John Terry, William Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Deco and Didier Drogba, turning them into world beaters.
Every balanced and successful team has a core group of seven to eight players who are a permanent fixture in the starting XI, Jose himself said as much when he suggested he had nine untouchables in his squad during his first spell at Chelsea.
Just look at the Barcelona or Real Madrid starting lineup on any given matchday, you'll notice there are some players who would always start provided they are fit, with just one or two spots available for rotation. However, three seasons in and the one cock-sure Mourinho when it came to team selection admits he doesn't still know his best team.
This is particularly telling, as, since Mourinho's arrival at Old Trafford, the Mancunians lead the way for most changes to their starting XI with 235.
This particular chopping and changing particularly in the centre of defence robs players off the consistency required to gel together on the pitch, as one day you're in the starting lineup, and the next week you find yourself sitting at home as you did not make the matchday squad.
Mourinho has infamously never stayed at a club beyond three years, and he has previously stated that he would like to stay on for a long time at Manchester United and create a legacy with the club. The new contract he signed in January was also proof that the board saw him as the man to take United into the future.
However, eight months are a very long time in football, and a lot has happened in the intervening time to erode the once public backing he had, and Mourinho is very much now a man on the ledge.
As colourful and headline-grabbing as his press conferences are, the truth of the matter is that he has to forget about the press and do his talking on the pitch. In the words of legendary Real Madrid player and manager Alfredo di Stefano according to Ramon Calderon, 'a great coach could never complain about referees, injuries, bad luck or any other circumstance – that was reserved for the mediocre'.
Jose Mourinho is definitely no mediocre, hence the need to stop the we-against-the-world rhetoric and blame games. He should start to focus on delivering results on the field of play, starting with Saturday's clash with Burnley, as his Manchester United future could very well depend on it.