Man Utd crisis UNCOVERED: Pressure is on Mourinho as his side faces Spurs on Monday
Symptoms include surprise defeats, worsening relationships with his employers and with his players – and his ever darker moods. So what is going wrong at Old Trafford?
It is scarcely the picture of a happy camp. Paul Pogba said he would be fined if he said what he really thought about life at Old Trafford.
The World Cup winner seems keen on a move to Barcelona. Anthony Martial definitely wanted to leave. Mourinho criticised his captain Antonio Valencia in the summer, while Luke Shaw has been a regular target.
Others may lose confidence in Mourinho’s regular complaints about a lack of buys. Meanwhile, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, two centre-backs Mourinho paid £60million for, were dreadful in defeat at Brighton.
Some of his superstar signings, like Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, have produced more for other managers. Too few have played to their potential for Mourinho.
Perhaps Toby Alderweireld was always going to play at Old Trafford tomorrow.
But a transfer target of Mourinho’s will line up for Spurs, not United. Plenty of others eluded him in a summer of frustration that echoed his last close-season at Chelsea.
Mourinho missed out on a centre-back and a winger and Fred was his only major signing. If the Portuguese thinks Ed Woodward should have moved for Harry Maguire sooner, United’s executive vice-chairman was reluctant to commit major sums for 29 and 30-year-olds like Alderweireld, Jerome Boateng, and Willian.
It makes Mourinho seem short-termist – and Woodward looking for a future beyond him.
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Mourinho’s brand of football, winning the league with 70-75 goals, worked in the 2000s
Mourinho defended United’s style of play last year by saying: “I don’t know who is more ambitious than us.”
But perhaps all of the big six are. United had the sixth most possession last season and were the fifth highest scorers, with 38 fewer goals than City.
Mourinho’s brand of football, winning the league with 70-75 goals, worked in the 2000s. But no matter how many talented individuals United have, it is not enough in an era when City can score 106.
He seems a man out of time when Guardiola’s more attacking ethos prevails. Tellingly, the City manager is a big fan of Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri. Other clubs are appointing Guardiola-style managers.
Some think Mourinho’s mood took a turn for the worse after he signed a new contract in January.
But he has felt more sullen and sulky since last autumn, since the realisation set in that Manchester City were just too good.
A manager who used to be branded the greatest ever has struggled to cope with being the second best in Greater Manchester. He toppled Pep Guardiola when his Real Madrid became Spanish champions.
Mourinho feels unable to cope with the realisation that history will not repeat itself in Manchester.
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Much of Mourinho’s rhetoric scarcely seems designed to help Manchester United.
Instead, by hinting blame lies with everyone from Woodward to the players, he seems to be seeking to deflect responsibility and escape with his reputation undamaged.
He has had a mantra about City’s spending. He stated this summer that Liverpool must win the title after buying big.
He has ignored United’s £392million outlay in his reign and that they fielded a £400m starting XI in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Brighton.
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The contradiction at the heart of Mourinho’s reign is that United long felt his dream job, the one he longed for, yet he treats it like just another job.
The contrast is with managers like Klopp, who treats Liverpool like a dream job.
Whereas some of his rivals immerse themselves in the history and culture of their clubs, Mourinho appears to feel like a contract worker, still living in a hotel.
His misjudged comments in March about United’s lack of “football heritage” referred to their poor record since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement but still contributed to the image of a man who does not, and does not try to, understand United.