Do Mourinho's recent comments reveal his ineptitude or the Manchester United board's?
Image: Daniel CC BY-SA 2.0
Manchester United supporters were never avid fans of the Glazers. Mass protests broke out when their interest in the club became evident in 2005. Some fans even turned their backs on Old Trafford to form their own club. Through Sir Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden years, however, the greater portion of Old Trafford faithful tolerated the American investors' presence. Since the Scot's retirement, their football inadequacies have come to the fore.
Jose Mourinho's recent tenure with the club highlighted their ineptitude. After his sacking, the 55-year-old was adamant he would not discuss the inner workings of his previous club. So when Mourinho recently appeared on BeIn Sports as a pundit, his subtle digs at United’s football structure came as a surprise to everyone.
Mourinho went on to suggest modern managers lack the power they once possessed:
We are not anymore in the time where the coach by himself is powerful enough to cope and have a relationship of education and sometimes confrontation with players who are not the best professionals. The coaches, nowadays, they need a structure.
The Portuguese isn't wrong about the power shift. One need only look at Sven Mislintat's influence at Arsenal even in Arsene Wenger's final season to see that, or Marcel Brand's at Everton. What the former Chelsea and United manager fails to realise is his old-school manner of ‘disciplining’ and ‘educating’ players is what inhibited him.
Gone are the days when a dressing room bashing would get a player up and raring to go unless you mean to another club. Whether we like it or not players have become more sensitive. If Mourinho fails to adapt, he will find himself living on his past glories.
The Portuguese went on suggest the way he thinks clubs should adapt:
For me, a club must be very well organised to cope with this kind of situations, where the manager is only the manager and not the man who is trying to keep the discipline or who are trying to educate the players. A club must have an owner or a president, a CEO or a director executive, a sports director or a football director, and then the manager. This is a structure that can cope with all the problems modernity is bringing to all of us.
While Mourinho could learn some man-management skills from the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he makes another point by hinting at the haphazard way United operates. Some managers happily make use of what is given. Others demand more, Mourinho is the latter. So, when he encountered [what he implied was] United’s outdated footballing structure, he was rightly upset.
United can sign the best man-manager in the world but if the Glazers don't improve the club's business model, long term success will be impossible to sustain.
Since the three-time Premier League-winning manager's sack, speculation as to his next destination is rife. Real Madrid tops the list. Recently, Benfica allegedly asked Mourinho to be their next manager only for the Ex-Porto man to turn them down.
On BeIn, Mourinho offered insight:
I want to coach, I am too young. I am in football for a long, long time, but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks and am really too young. Where I am going to stay is where I belong, I belong to top football. I belong to top-level football and is where I am going to be.
The truth is both Manchester United and Jose Mourinho must reflect on their failed relationship. Mourinho's attitude requires adjustment, a problem ever since he signed on with Real Madrid the first time. It is the driving factor behind his infamous third season syndrome. Manchester United must accept Ferguson and David Gill's genius covered up their mistakes. Sir Alex's fingerprints on Solskjaer's hire is a good sign. The club must hire football people to manage their football business. If not, on-field success won't return.