Saturday 23 February 2019

Mourinho's in unknown territory at Old Trafford

Down and out: Manchester United’s Eric Bailly looks dejected after the Champions League last-16 defeat to Sevilla on Tuesday night
Down and out: Manchester United’s Eric Bailly looks dejected after the Champions League last-16 defeat to Sevilla on Tuesday night

This is unknown territory for Jose Mourinho. The club he always wanted to manage, the fans he always wanted to impress and the media he performs for have all turned on him.

His mouth has made his situation far more difficult than it need be. From the moment back in July when he welcomed Paul Pogba into his squad as the "most complete midfielder" in world football to his, rash and childish response to losing to Sevilla, he is talking himself into a cul de sac.

Mourinho can't help himself and we know that. At a point of high pressure, he retreats behind a wall of schoolboy defiance and irrational point scoring. He loses his temper and lashes out.

When most managers would take a beating, perhaps complain about the referee as Antonio Conte did after Barcelona and try to move the show on as quickly as possible, 'The Special One' blurted out comments after Sevilla which damned him in many supporters' eyes.

To focus on the moment when he danced a jig up the touchline in front of Alex Ferguson as some kind of explanation for United's removal from the Champions League by a team with a terrible record on the road was idiotic but the kind of thing I've come to expect from Mourinho.

United boss Jose Mourinho shows his disappointment after the loss
United boss Jose Mourinho shows his disappointment after the loss

It was the act of a braggart who thinks only about himself. Instead of addressing justifiable concerns among those who support United about a truly awful performance just four days after they watched their team beat Liverpool, he brought up a moment from his own show reel.

Worse, it was the moment he humiliated the greatest manager of modern times and announced himself to the world with a brash and arrogant flourish.

I didn't like what he did then and nothing has changed about his behaviour since that has removed a very negative first impression.


I wonder what Ed Woodward is thinking now. He and Mourinho are joined at the hip because of Pogba but influential voices at Old Trafford like Bobby Charlton, who never wanted Mourinho as manager, must be very unhappy.

I hear many pundits saying they cannot stand Mourinho and many United fans in agreement. The surprise to me is that it took them so long to see what has been plainly in view for a decade and more.

Increasingly, the storyline is that he is not the right fit for United. That observation will cut deep.

He cannot rely on much backing from fans who have never given him affection. I think both parties in that relationship have always understood that Mourinho is there to win trophies and not to be loved.

All he has to shoot at now is the FA Cup and the bragging rights gained from that big, big win over Liverpool were squandered when he changed his team for the Sevilla game and killed whatever momentum he might have gained by beating bitter local rivals.

Instead of trusting the players who did a good job against Liverpool, he chopped and changed.

He has done this before and won. I've praised him many times for finding a way to win against the odds but I was baffled by his team selection and approach.

United were completely disjointed against Sevilla.

I saw players playing for themselves and nobody capable of pulling them together.

I proposed a solution for Mourinho a while back which revolved around finding a couple of playmakers to match the talent Pep Guardiola found for Manchester City but after this, I think he needs much more than that.

At the heart of the matter is Pogba and the certainty in Mourinho's mind that he cannot ever be the player he announced as a world class playmaker. Pogba's confidence is completely shattered and without that he is nothing.

After dropping him and puncturing Pogba's bubble in a very public and very embarrassing way for the lad, can Mourinho ever be the man to help him rebuild his shattered psyche?

There has to be a big doubt over that and Mourinho's future at the club as a result.

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