Supreme Confidence. Winner. Darling of the Media.
No, we’re not talking about Jurgen Klopp, but Jose Mourinho of the past.
Jose was a real winner. He exuded the swagger of a man who truly enjoyed what he did, believed in what he did… one who never doubted himself, who would nonchalantly throw his Champions League winners’ medals into the crowd minutes after receiving it, then disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel, many times off to a new challenge. Nowadays, at Manchester United, some fans feel his new defeatist demeanour and style could see him throwing away a Champions League spot.
Gone are the entertaining press conferences and silk suit knee slides. Gone are the fist-on heart-pumping celebrations. Nowadays, he cuts a sulky, slouched, pitiful version of his former self.
Even the 3-1 victory over Swansea City couldn’t lift his mood. Fans were elated – Zlatan scored a brace, Paul Pogba scored a screamer, a makeshift back four had kept Swansea relatively quiet.
“I am happy” Jose said afterwards. Body Language saying something else entirely. Towards the end of his post match press conference, his hints grabbed all the media attention for all the wrong reasons.
“There is a difference between the brave, who want to play at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference… If I were to speak with the many great football people of this team, they will say they played many times without being 100 per cent. We have players on the pitch with problems. In every sport, how many times do you play and you’re not 100 per cent?” – Jose Mourinho
And just like that, Mourinho took the feel good atmosphere resulting from Man United’s 1st win in 5 games, and flipped it into a negative one.
Now, more than likely, players like Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling (and Henrik Mkhitaryan, who has been fully fit for weeks) will furthermore feel alienated by his hints of their alleged cowardice. He has effectively created an “ us vs them” scenario within Old Trafford. A worryingly dangerous road to travel.
Why not seek to lift the players and create a “United” dressing Room? Lift the dreary mood, not accentuate it? Why is he behaving the way he is currently? More questions than answers.
In recent times we have seen Alex Ferguson coming out, speaking in full praise of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. For me, the most telling part of his lavish admiration for the manager of a club he hated most, was : “You can see Klopp’s dedication on the sideline – I’m convinced his work in training is similar. He’s a strong personality. That’s absolutely vital at a big club.”
At face value, it may seem like genuine appreciation for Klopp, but it’s more than likely a veiled stab at Jose. Reports indicate that Mourinho hasn’t fully settled in Manchester yet, choosing to live out of a suitcase. Other reports suggest that he isn’t attending training sessions, leaving assistant Rui Faria to handle sessions from start to finish. This is ridiculously strange! He was always a ‘hands on’ manager… which leads some to ask: has he still not recovered from falling off (Stamford) Bridge?
He has a squad (on paper) capable of doing great things and has always wanted the Man United manager’s role… now that he’s got it, he seems uninterested, uninspired, distant even.
Some fans feel he should’ve been appointed to succeed Alex Ferguson when he hung up his chewing gum. Back then, Mourinho was a bit younger, hungrier for success, unaffected by the despondency of defeat. His failure last season at Chelsea seems to have broken his spirit. It’s almost as if Manchester United fans have received a shadow of his former (brilliant) self.
He has enough time to turn things around. Now, he must strive to rediscover the Champion within, or future glory Old Trafford will be without.