Jose Mourinho third-season syndrome striking again?
Jose Mourinho guided Manchester United to their best-placed finish post-Sir Alex Ferguson last season. Although some way off the pace set by Manchester City, the Red Devils looked to be a team on the rise once again.
That was until preparation for 2018/19 got underway. We've all heard about the third-season syndrome in relation to the self-proclaimed Special One. In fact, I've lost track on how many times Mourinho has left his club in the lurch after his first two relatively successful seasons in charge at a new home. Perhaps the most glaring lapse from the Portuguese coach was during his last stint at Chelsea. During the winter period, the Stamford Bridge outfit were wallowing just above the relegation zone. If that doesn't spell crisis, I'm not sure what does.
At this point, the Déjà vu is slowly settling in. Mourinho has never been the most upbeat gaffer while prowling the touchline, but during United's pre-season tour, he just looks miserable. When conducting press conferences, the media are trying to extract answers from him like blood from a stone. When they do finally get their desired response, it tends to be delivered in a flappy, arrogant manner, while often criticising a player or even the club itself.
Mourinho has gone on record to discuss his unhappiness at Edward Woodward's work in the transfer market. Sure, he's allowed to be angry, but what does he think it's going to achieve by taking that public other than fan furore? Honestly, it feels as though he's looking for a way out...
Then you have the Anthony Martial situation. United, understandably want to keep the Frenchman close. Mourinho, understandably, wants to sell an unhappy player. With one year left on his contract with the option for a further twelve months, the ball is firmly in the club's court...
A manager like Mourinho needs full control from top to bottom. That's just the way he works. Without that, it's in his nature to let his ego do the talking. Eventually' that's good for nobody as it tends to have disastrous consequences. A self-implosion looming?
With a shortened transfer window in England, United haven't acted anywhere near swiftly enough. You take a look at the outstanding business being done by Liverpool. They're on the up, the Red Devils are remaining stagnant. Sure, Fred may turn out to be this world-beating midfield player who takes Mourinho's men to that next level, but pinning all their hopes on a player who's been injured all summer, while the Ukrainian league remains the highest level of domestic football he's played at is a gamble. Don't get me started on Diogo Dalot who's also on the treatment table or Lee Grant who'll play no more than five games a year...
Then you have the on-field performances. Things improved somewhat against AC Milan, but there is still an awfully long way to go. The players are carrying themselves in a similar way to their manager. They look fed-up, disheartened, disillusioned. It could be a long twelve months on Salford Quays.
In essence, I think he's got every right to be unhappy, but he also must shoulder some blame. His player treatment has hardly been exemplary, while the playing style hardly endears him to fans. Honestly, I'd be surprised if Mr Woodward isn't already lining up a potential replacement come Christmas time. I'm just not sure who's available at this point.