It’s a narrative we’ve seen a few times before. Firstly, at Real Madrid and then in his second spell at Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho looks to be doing the spadework to dig himself out of the Manchester United manager’s job, and if recent history is a guide, a mid-season parting of the ways is almost inevitable.
Not content with seeing his man Paul Pogba lauding it over all and sundry in the World Cup, the Portuguese soured any celebrations for the Frenchman by insisting that the midfielder only ever plays like that for his country.
He employed similar tactics to unsettle players when he was at the Santiago Bernabeu, to the point where Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas held a summit with president Florentino Perez to tell him “it’s Mourinho or us,” hinting that others would follow suit if the ‘Special One’ was allowed to continue.
Anthony Martial is another in Mourinho’s firing line, the striker castigated for returning home from United’s pre-season tour in America to see the birth of his child.
Ah yes, pre-season.
“We are not a team,” the manager has been quoted as saying whilst on tour. “Pre-season is very bad I have to say that. I’m worried. We’re a group of players from different teams.”
Such negativity from the man in charge can only seep into the psyche of his players, and his demeanour does nothing to enhance the mood in the camp.
Compare his downbeat, morose tone with the positive and joyful Jurgen Klopp. Frankly, there is no comparison at this point.
Liverpool were already enjoying themselves despite losing to Borussia Dortmund, so beating Manchester City won’t necessarily have altered the equilibrium.
Clearly, however, United’s problems go much deeper than a lack of decent preparation before the start of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign.
One might’ve expected the team to be firing on all cylinders now, given that Mourinho has had a good crack at getting United back to where they belong.
He must take part of the blame that they haven’t. After all, it’s not as if the club haven’t backed him because Ed Woodward has done his absolute best to provide his manager with the best tools for the job.
It’s almost as if Mourinho is setting the bar deliberately lower than he should, to ensure that expectations aren’t off the Richter scale before a ball has been kicked in anger.
But surely a club of United’s stature need to be example that everyone else follows?
Perhaps yet another job is just too big for him…
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