Unveiling the Mourinho Quandary
Three years ago, Manchester United fans sighed with relief on the news of the appointment of Jose Mourinho as the new gaffer. There is no denying that Mourinho is among the most successful managers of the modern era. Having won the domestic title with Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid- in the top-seeded UEFA member countries, then he was surely the Messiah to lead the Manchester United fraternity to the nirvana of the league title triumph.
Things looked promising when he brought home the UEFA Europa League, which was no mean feat. This season, however, things seem to be in a pulsated downward spiral for the special one, not to forget that he is in his third year at the reigns of the Old Trafford outfit. Previously, his third year at the helm of a club often produced disastrous results. Having recently received a thumping from Championship outfit, Derby County, which is managed by his former player at Chelsea in Frank Lampard, Mourinho left a bitter aftertaste to the fans after the weekend loss to a lowly West Ham United. The barren draw with Valencia in the UEFA Champions league match did not help the matters either as they were leapfrogged by Juventus in the group standings. Many have had enough of the Portuguese tactician and are calling for his head.
During the regime of the previous managers, Manchester United team has always sported an attacking brand of football. There is that aura of “what we will do to them” which Mourinho seemed to have turned around to “what they will do to us”. This mentality has led the team to produce a brand of boring and defensive minded football which is a chagrin to many fans. Even Louis van Gaal, with his tepid possession, minded football looks a far better prospect than the “Parking the bus” tactic that Mourinho so often employs.
Due to the defensive and negative tactics employed by Mourinho, the end results are always disastrous. A quick comparison with his immediate title rival to the east, Pep Guardiola reveals the managerial trends that bode well with a club. Guardiola always tends to absorb the blame and protect his players, whilst Mourinho hangs them out to dry. It is not rare to have him pick a spat with a player or member of his backroom staff- The latest case being Paul Pogba and before him was Sanchez, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, and even Eva Carneiro, the medic at Chelsea some years back.
Jose Mourinho’s arrogance is not helping matters either. When confronted in regards to the below-par performances, usually caused by his lack of a definite starting eleven. The Portuguese blasted the journalists, claiming he has achieved much more than the other league managers. An early exit from the Champions League last season had Mourinho lambasted the press by claiming that it was no extraordinary thing for Manchester United to be ejected from the competition at such an early time.
Notwithstanding his tough demeanor and below-par performances, football pundit and former Man United captain, Gary Neville, believes Mourinho should not be sacked. Manchester United always gives new managers a lot of time to gel. A perfect example being Sir Alex Ferguson, who is arguably the greatest manager in the sport of all time. Having arrived from Aberdeen in November 1986, Sir Alex Ferguson was to spend the next 6 years without a piece of silverware. Things took a complete turn when he won the domestic championship in 1992, with silverware raining in thick and fast. Gary Neville believes that this is what the club has failed to do since the legendary gum totting scot retired in 2013.
Mourinho is certainly not blameless but a look into the transfer market and you get the fact that it is not entirely his fault that things are going south. Sir Alex Ferguson had the backing of David Gill, the then Chief executive. Malcolm Glazer, though he never set foot in Manchester, was always supportive of his chief executive and manager. Malcolm Glazer has since died and the club ownership transferred to his son Joel, who is not interested in trophies but in the financial side of the club; his objectives are achieved when the club at least qualifies for the UEFA Champions League. The fact that Ed Woodward, the current chief executive, reportedly concurs with the ideology of Joel Glazer does not help things.
Neither Joel Glazer nor Ed Woodward have any previous football experience. As such, Mourinho always cuts a frustrated figure when they ignore or fail to achieve his transfer targets. Last season, Mourinho got his signings, he reciprocated by bringing home a major silverware. Mourinho had already handed in his transfer targets in May. The manager’s pleas were ignored and the fans were fed with the best bits of transfer rumors and speculations which never saw the light of day.
Back in 2007, Mourinho had his request for signings ignored by Roman Abramovich, when he later suffered a defeat and was asked for his comment, he simply said “No eggs, no omelette” meaning if the club did not give him the signings he asked for, then he could also not deliver to their expectations. Abramovich obviously exploded to that one and Mourinho got the sack.
Mourinho signed a contract to keep him in the club until 2020. If the hierarchy feels that he should go, they will have to part ways with a sizeable lump of money to his favor, which is what Mourinho might be attempting the board to do in his jibes at not getting desired results due to lack of quality signings last summer.
Zinedine Zidane, the former Real Madrid manager is rumored to have been contacted by the board in regards to taking over the Old Trafford hot seat. The club has vehemently denied having had any contact with the Frenchman. Zidane, though with a great record having won the Champions League back to back, is still largely seen as untested. The squad he won with the hat-trick of Champions League glory was inherited. It is yet to be seen how he would cope with having to build a squad from scratch. Zidane’s record at the domestic level proved wanting last season as he finished 16 points behind runaway leaders, Barcelona. Despite finishing as the champions of Europe, Real Madrid salvaged 76 points in their domestic campaign, their worst tally in over a decade.
No player is bigger than the club. Sir Alex Ferguson's no-nonsense approach and the fact that he had the full backing of the board ensured that no player ever felt he was more important than the rest. The gaffer even went one better by confronting his captain, David Beckham, who was also the best player in the squad and ultimately throwing him overboard when his (Beckham’s) fame got to his head. It would, therefore, be against the club’s belief should they relieve the manager of his duties because he fell out with a star player. It should be the other way around.
Mourinho is synonymous with his short stints in management. He is not known to stay more than three years at a club. However, great managers are known to have achieved results after a lengthy period of mediocrity, look at Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. They need a lot of time before they hit the right cord. What if- Just, what if Mourinho was given time more time, maybe for another season or two?
Okay, don’t snap off my head, it was just a speculation after all.