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Opinion

Mourinho's magnificent man management

Monday 13th February 2017
Let's talk about Jose Mourinho's magnificent man-management. Often vilified in the press and accused of spikiness, Mourinho is painted as an unempathetic figure. But, his management of Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are a testament to his superb personal skills.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan



It perplexed Manchester United fans and the football community for months. Mkhitaryan's prolonged exile from the starting eleven was a confusing one - the press used it as a sounding board to accuse Mourinho of already 'losing the plot' as United got off to a shaky start.

Taken off at half-time during the Manchester derby, it would take the Armenian months to have another chance to prove himself. Yet, this is an example of brilliant man-management from Mourinho.

It is clear the Portuguese manager was vital in the progression and development of Mkhitaryan; noticing his unsuitableness to the Premier League, he protected him from the jury and gave him the correct environment to adapt; on the training pitch. He nurtured him behind the scenes and aided his evolution. Mikhitaryan never had a bad word to say about Mourinho during his exclusion - this shows a lot about the relationship.

He knuckled down, became stronger and more aware of the intensity of the Premier League and has become pivotal for United in recent months.

Anthony Martial



Martial failed to replicate the form he demonstrated under Louis van Gaal and cut a frustrated and under-confident figure. He had lost that panache, flair and directness that earmarked his style.

There was a lot of talk of a move away and United potentially cutting their losses on their £36million man.
 Martial was linked with a move to Sevilla
Martial was linked with a move to Sevilla
Instead, Mourinho once again proved his exceptional man-management skills. He told Martial to work harder, to stop complaining and to focus on his own game.

He said this in the aftermath of Martial's star performance against Watford on the weekend:

"Martial deserves the chance." Mourinho told BBC Sport after United extended their unbeaten run to 16 league games.

 "He has worked harder than ever in the last two weeks in the way I like - silence but hard."

He did not cast Martial to the wolves; he did not publically berate him; he did not put him in the reserves (having learned from the Bastian Schweinsteiger debacle).

Martial is now, as with Mkhitaryan, a better player for it. The Frenchman is another example of Mourinho's ability to quietly instil confidence in a player's game.

Luke Shaw



The young left-back is next in line. He has been excluded from a number of match-day squads and has found life at Old Trafford hard since his recovery from a horror injury.

If the cases of Martial and Mkhitaryan prove anything, it is that United fans need not worry about their precocious talent: if he works the way Mourinho wants him to, if he focuses on improving and gets stronger and fitter, he will be back in the Manchester United team.
 Shaw will be back in the first team if he knuckles down.
Shaw will be back in the first team if he knuckles down.
Granted, Mourinho is ruthless. But, if he spots talent and sees that such a player is willing to put the hard work in, he will reward them. The ex-Chelsea manager gets a hard press: he has had myriad bust-ups with players, but the main reasons for such disputes are in the fact that the player isn't working hard enough. (See Chelsea squad c.2016).

The Manchester United manager knows when to introduce players and has the emotional capacity and football awareness to nurture his talents. Good man management is essential to success in football: at Manchester United, Mourinho has this in abundance.
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