Jose Mourinho: The master at deflecting media attention
Jose Mourinho. Arguably the greatest coach English football has seen since the turn of the century. A man who has delivered ten domestic honours in nine full seasons as a Premier League manager. That's impressive.
However, as Chelsea and now Manchester United fans will know, it has never always been plain sailing for the self-proclaimed Special One, particularly when that third-season syndrome well and truly starts to sink in...
Red Devils fans have been 'treated' to some truly abysmal football over the last few years. They were more than fine to put up with it during his debut season; winning the Europa League and EFL Cup. However, it has only been downhill from there, as the trophy cabinet remains bare, fan furore continues to rise.
Things seem to be at an all-time low on the field. However, rather cleverly, we're not talking about that. As per usual, 'MP' Mourinho continues to deflect the blame; something he truly excels at, so-much-so, he wouldn't be out of place in the houses of Parliament.
Quite cruelly (for Frank Lampard anyway), today, the footballing world isn't talking about the horrendous Carabao Cup loss to Derby County. Instead, media outlets are frantically writing headlines about Paul Pogba and Phil Jones. The former has been involved in an apparent bust-up with Mourinho while on the training ground. As you can see from the video below, tensions are high, it certainly doesn't look pretty. In Jones' case, the man from Portugal was happy to throw the centre-half under the bus. As the Englishman stepped up, Mourinho 'knew we [United] were in trouble' apparently...
I mean sure, we were all thinking it. Jones is hardly Roberto Carlos when it comes to the dead-ball situation, but to come out and say it straight afterwards cannot be good for morale? But, as long as the media aren't discussing the turgid dross that is currently being churned week-in-week-out, then I honestly don't think Mourinho cares...
Cast your mind back to last season. No trophies were on offer, United had been dumped out of Europe. The team weren't playing well. Mourinho's first thought? Attack; and not in ways which the Old Trafford faithful were begging for. Instead, he went on the offensive, Luke Shaw was his target. The left-back was publicly berated by his manager, for no apparent reason. Sure, that may now be a relationship on the mend, but at the time, it was extremely strange.
It even happened during United's pre-season tour. Those games aren't important results-wise, but Mourinho couldn't help himself. This time the victim was Anthony Martial. He left the United States to be with his partner for the birth of their child. The Red Devils boss claimed the Frenchman went AWOL. We all know that's hardly the case. The outburst came just a day or two following a 4-1 hammering against Liverpool. Are you noticing a trend here...?
Like him or not, you have to admire his ability to get the media talking about everything but what really matters. He did it at Chelsea for years during his two stints, that led to huge success on the field... The main difference this time around? Premier League titles aren't being won, yet Mourinho still has the media and fans like a puppet on strings. That's a unique gift. However, I'm not sure it'll wash for much longer - particularly if United continue their poor form when they take on West Ham United this weekend.