José Mourinho’s departure heralds a new dawn for Manchester United

On a wintery mid-December day at Carrington, José Mourinho’s reign as Manchester United manager reached an abrupt end in all too Mourinho-esque manner.

Most call it his renowned third season syndrome; the campaign where the constant stream of little and not so subtle digs catch up with the snarling Portuguese terrier. In his trail, he leaves an underachieving Manchester United side sitting 19-points adrift of league leaders Liverpool and a staggering 11-points behind fourth placed Chelsea. A beleaguered squad that had the kitchen sink and more thrown at them numerous times during his tenure – sometimes deservedly so, other times not so much – lay in wait with hope the next manager brings new methods and fresh ideas. Ed Woodward’s track record as Manchester United chief executive rightly takes another bashing, especially given the new three-year contract only gifted to Mourinho this time last year. On top of all this, José walks away having accumulated just the mere £358.8m on player transfers and a £537k hotel bill as the cake topper.

The remarkable thing is deep down we all knew this matrimony would end in tears. José Mourinho’s track record suggested as much, but the deeper issues rooted in this sporting titan that is Manchester United require further emphasising.

As previously mentioned, this is a club currently too ill-equipped to be truly successful. This is a club still playing catch-up since Sir Alex Ferguson brought his trophy-laden spell to an end in 2013. Having over-relied on his ability to oversee each and every aspect of the club, they soon got found out upon his departure. As rivals all across Europe were pushing the boundaries and finally coming to terms with the structure required of sporting sides in modern day football, Manchester United played the wrong hand on more than one occasion. First with David Moyes, then with Louis van Gaal and lastly with José Mourinho. As a result, Manchester United’s reputation as one of the most respected footballing sides across the globe has since taken a battering. Still with each downfall comes an opportunity to get up and learn from past mistakes. This opportunity has once again offered itself to Manchester United.

The penny finally dropped. Enough was enough with Mourinho’s antics. He had clearly lost the majority of the dressing room, with matters having threatened to turn toxic for the best part of the past year. Despite not being renowned for fluent football, all would agree that watching his Manchester United side had been painstaking on the whole. The negative demeanour adopted on the opening day of pre-season brought matters to a head for many as he downplayed fan expectations. Stubbornly playing central midfielders instead of centre-backs against West Ham United bore sense of an arsonist on the prowl, eagerly searching for the next fuse to light.

This week’s thrilling 4-3 FA Youth Cup victory over Chelsea gave sense of a club with real talent coming through the system. Still, with José Mourinho in charge, what chance would they realistically have of graduating into the first team? Evidence sits in the expected UEFA Champions League dead-rubber at Valencia. With everyone anticipating a Juventus trouncing of Young Boys, Mourinho’s bench included young starlets Mason Greenwood and James Garner, only for him to instead introduce Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. This would not have gone unnoticed in the Manchester United boardroom.

The hierarchy will also have undoubtedly seen what effect the right structure in terms of having a Director of Football or Sporting Director can have on the playing aspects, just by looking down the road to the Etihad or along the M62 towards Liverpool. And with this, came another reason to abort mission and start anew without José Mourinho. By installing a stop-gap manager until the end of the season, it allows the United board an opportunity to appoint their favoured candidate to the Director of Football or Sporting Director role and, with this, give both him and the new manager a clean slate to write their chapter upon in the 2019/20 season.

One can only imagine and speculate who will be the man in charge next summer. Might Mauricio Pochettino be grasped from Daniel Levy’s claws and be joined by his trusted ally Paul Mitchell as Director of Football? Could Diego Simeone be lured from Atletico Madrid? Might a lauded former player such as Michael Carrick, Nicky Butt or current Wales manager, Ryan Giggs, be trusted with the task in hand? Or might the board take risk on one of the vast choice of raw managerial talent found throughout Europe?

For the time being, however, the next five and a half months offers opportunity. Opportunity for whoever the stop-gap manager may be, opportunity for the players to make their mark before the new guard takes control and opportunity for the fans to get some enjoyment back in their system.

The lack of progress at Old Trafford is exasperating

Looking back at previously written articles with the hope of finding inspiration for a new one isn’t something I’d normally waste my time in doing. Nevertheless, the current state of affairs at Manchester United is a different story.

Manchester United. This is a club without direction. Blind leading the blind. Helpless led by the clueless. They are hamstrung by parasitical owners, who are interested in the bottom line and only ever worried about the on-pitch performance when it subsequently hampers their dear old bottom line. Footballing operations are orchestrated by an investment banker by trade, seemingly unwilling to hand over any duties to men with the acquired knowhow of running the on-pitch performance of such a sporting behemoth. José Mourinho is and will always be a modern day great, yet he seems so at odds with everyone apart from his own reflection, that the club’s already poisonous concoction becomes even more venomous.

Back in March 2016, I aired some grievances regarding the then situation engulfing Old Trafford in Red News. At the time, Manchester United had Louis van Gaal in charge, his compatriot Daley Blind orchestrating the back-four, France’s finest Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield and an evergreen Wayne Rooney up top.

I wrote about how it was abundantly clear that Manchester United desperately required a Sporting Director or Director of Football; a figurehead to perform the glue-like role in between Ed Woodward, as Executive Vice Chairman, and then manager, Louis van Gaal.

I grumbled about the utter footballing disorganisation that had been allowed to infest the club since Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill left in 2013 and how it was glaringly obvious they desperately required restructuring from top to bottom.

I stressed that modern day managers required a go-to man who was allowed to focus on tasks that arose outside first team matters, especially given the amount of commercial tasks that was put their way. That would then provide the correct structure for a modern day football club to thrive and, if complimented with some financial clout and a focused view on where they want to go, and how they want to do it, could take the club a very long way to reaching their end-goal.

I emphasised the need for Manchester United to go back to the tried and tested methods of club philosophy in terms of recruitment, youth development and playing style that didn’t end up with a manager so at odds with the club’s historical trends.

I moaned about how the club approached each summer transfer window in overconfident fashion, only to be outmanoeuvred and made a laughing stock amongst their rivals, before ultimately adopting a scattergun-like approach come the end of August.

I spoke with unease of the goings on over at the Etihad; how Manchester City had shown United the way forward, by employing former Barcelona kingpins Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain to head their footballing programme, which then resulted in Pep Guardiola joining the club.

I groaned about the fact it should be no bombshell whatsoever that the footballing side of the club was in such disarray, given the man in charge (Ed Woodward) specialised in investment banking, commercial operations and qualified as a Chartered Accountant from PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1997 after receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics at Bristol University in 1993.

“Now tell me, what exactly has any of that got to do with Football?”

I finished by calling on everyone to forget the conundrum regarding the United Kingdom’s position within the European Union – bear in mind the dreaded vote wasn’t for another three months – since Manchester United and Old Trafford required reform first and foremost.

As you’ve probably realised by now, not much has since changed.

It is still clear as day that Manchester United are in need of a Sporting Director or Director of Football. This was emphasised in the summer transfer window when José Mourinho insisted on a centre-back only for Ed Woodward to veto all his suggested targets, before a last-minute scattergun approach was adopted on transfer deadline day.

The lack of footballing persona at the highest echelons of the club remains an issue. The gaps left by the departures of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill are still being filled, all this whilst rival opposition such as Manchester City, Liverpool and now Arsenal are constantly pushing the boundaries of what was once found to be the norm with regards to staff setup. 

The commercial aspect of modern day football remains a conundrum for the current setup. José Mourinho bemoaned the effect PR activity had on their pre-season preparation, and as recently as October, several squad members were known to have refused to carry out activities with sponsors in a dressing room protest.

Despite having in place a manager with surreal track record and the right level of ambition in José Mourinho, you need to remember this is not a man who embodies what Manchester United is all about. All the occasions he downplayed expectations, dampened moods on the first day of pre-season, created rifts with players, turned the rare highlights of his tenure into sequels of The José Mourinho Saga – it has since reached the point of no return. His first season proved a success, last season’s trophy-less campaign wasn’t the disaster some made it out to be, but this season he really should be doing better with the players at his disposal. Believe it or not, there is some real talent in the squad, and the inability to coax better than eighth position and 17 points adrift of the leaders after 15-games has to ultimately land at José Mourinho’s door.

True, improvements has since been made to the youth and scouting setup, still you can’t help but feel Manchester United are playing catch-up instead of leading the way. And lastly, what now of the UK and the EU? The less said about that the better.

The last two and a half years have posed more questions than answers for Manchester United. Where they go from here and how they finally find long-term progression clearly remains unanswered. 

‘New’ Mourinho needs sustenance to clear the grey skies

“They must have known that he may not bring the glory days back via the ‘United Way’; he has his own lane of operations, so rather than spewing complaints about his managerial philosophy, why not stomach the gritty performances and celebrate the triumphs that he has brought so far?”

By Takudzwa Chikonzo

The start of the new Premier League season has been a difficult one for anyone who has any association with Manchester United, and when you look across town at the Etihad Stadium or in Merseyside at Anfield, you wonder how the situation could have been all so different. However, can we realistically say that there is no sense of fascination, albeit waning, in the “where have we seen this before” rhetoric with Jose Mourinho?

There are those that love to see him suffer, to see him with his back up against the wall. Some are quite tired of the usual antics from the Portuguese manager. Others would say that the treatment of the man in press conferences and the media, mixed with the perceivable lack of support by United’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, is unfair and people must look at the overall picture: when Mourinho came in at United, the team were in a precarious position, with their rivals looking forward rather than over their shoulders, and are now a much better outfit.

He has brought some needed stability to a team that had become uncharacteristically unappealing and bland.

However, with two seasons under his belt and a somewhat solid platform that he could have used to kick on in his third season, Mourinho has found himself being criticized for his unhappy mood and gloomy persona that have followed him from a difficult pre-season.

His demands for “respect, respect, respect” and the usual deflection tactics after the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur made him look like a man whose ego had been bruised, desperately holding on to what seems relevant to him, but such scenes have been lost on the wider audience who are looking more to the future rather than past glories.

Is he justified for wanting respect for winning three Premier League titles, amongst his other achievements at various clubs? Probably. Will he be held as one of the greatest managers in the world when he finally decides to hang up his managerial boots? Most definitely.

A comfortable win against an out-of-sorts Burnley team would only take the heat off of him for the moment, and so the international break can provide some time to reflect on what has been a disappointing start by his standards. What may come from his reflections would be anyone’s guess, but with a banner flown overhead at Turf Moor taking a swipe at Woodward as a “specialist in failure”, there seems to be a clear winner in the fans’ eyes at this present moment, and that is Mourinho.

From his one-minute applause of defiance at the Stretford End, to the encouragement afforded to players after the body blow given to them by Spurs; to appreciating the travelling supporters in Lancashire and handing his jacket to a young fan amid chants of “Mourinho’s Red Army”, the creation of a siege mentality and this ‘modified Jose’ aura may be his light at the end of a tricky dark tunnel, the security he may need to carry on.

United supporters have always had an uncomfortable relationship with the Glazer family, and with a lack of support from the board in the transfer window, the majority of supporters would gladly give their all to the Mourinho cause. Although there are those that are against the current managerial regime, there is a sense of loyalty and understanding from a fanbase that is desperate for success. This must not be taken for granted.

In their eyes, Mourinho was the only man that could take United to the very top once again. They must have known that he may not bring the glory days back via ‘the United Way’, but that has not been seen at Old Trafford for a number of years now. He has his own lane of operations, classic Mourinho and all, so rather than spewing complaints about his managerial philosophy, why not stomach the gritty performances and celebrate the triumphs that he has brought so far?

A change in Mourinho’s approach would be a welcome one, but it needs to be sustained, and the hope is that this is not a calculated move to calm the storm in the short-term. The current situation at the club, both on and off the pitch, is one that cannot go on for much longer if United want to be taken seriously by a football world that is enjoying their failings.

What has been disappointing to see from the current United regime is the clear lack of identity, long-term planning and, now, the possible divergence of ideas between manager and chief executive in the transfer window.

Mourinho wanted his customary ready-made, trustworthy lieutenants, whilst Woodward was looking at younger, more profitable prospects to develop for the long-term success of the club, both financially and on the pitch. Mourinho is a man for the short-term, so with this in mind, as well as the renewal of his contract, surely the manager needed to be supported with the funds necessary to build on the recruitment that has been done so far?

Modern football thrives on ‘progression’ and ‘evolution’, and although United and Mourinho have an air of confusion about their current operation, the change of approach against Spurs was an encouraging showing, with an emphasis on pressing higher up the pitch and having more shots on goal. United were frantic and ran hard in the first half, and could have been ahead at half-time, but their defensive frailties came to haunt them against a side that were flustered at first, but slowly grew into their own in the second half.

Against Burnley, Romelu Lukaku made clever runs into the channels, with less emphasis on having his back to goal, Luke Shaw continued his impressive form at left back, Paul Pogba was more direct in his passing, Jesse Lingard was inventive in his movement and Alexis Sanchez was much better with his final ball and his overall link-up play. If there is a change of thinking, which could be attributed to the influence that Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna may be having at Carrington, then it needs to be maintained.

It is never too late to mount a credible title challenge in September, so the good news is that Mourinho has time on his side. The key players, too, seem to be on his side, and any signs of player mutiny have not been evident recently, Lukaku stating that Mourinho is actually “a really good guy” away from the cameras, and Shaw opening up about Mourinho’s treatment of him, stating that the manager knew he could do better, and is now reaping the rewards of his criticism masked as motivation.

For Mourinho, this may be his last chance at elite management at an elite club. What supporters have wanted from the very start was for him to embrace the opportunity, to take his time in building a team reminiscent of the glory days before Moyes and Van Gaal, to lift the gloom that had embedded itself in the snoozy Theatre of Dreams, and create a culture that made United one of the most feared teams to play against for more than two decades.

A consistent starting line-up, with a clear style that plays to the strengths of the team in the best Mourinho resemblance of yesteryears, may help in bridging the gap between themselves and the early pacesetters. It is too early to write off United, and whilst many may have already looked at past Mourinho third-season failings, a new approach would be welcome and could be his saving grace at a time when he needs the support of everyone associated with United more than ever.

The message is clear from a large contingent of the fans. It is time for the ‘new’ Mourinho to stand up and repay the faith.

The clock ticks on José Mourinho and Manchester United

Only two games into the season, yet José Mourinho and Manchester United’s hopes are apparently hanging by a thread. Will they pull the trigger so early in the season? Or will they persist with Mourinho and his antics?

By Marco Gerges

José Mourinho’s job has been getting harder since he joined Manchester United back in May 2016. Of late, criticism has been on the increase with the Portuguese manager taking the Red Devils in the wrong direction.

The 55-year-old has seemingly lost his touch since coming to the red side of Manchester and the media believe his job is under major scrutiny. Things have been heating up around the coach especially since Sunday’s 3-2 defeat against Brighton. The result left Manchester United fans in shock after their side, who were expected to be title contenders, fell to a side only promoted to the Premier League last season. What makes the defeat even more embarrassing is that Manchester United’s squad is worth around £767 million, while their opponent’s squad was worth only around £108 million.

Mourinho is mostly criticized for his very defensive style of play, yet results aren’t showing that his tactics are effective. Instead of using such a defensive system, the United boss should take advantage of the quality players in his squad. He has some of the best attacking options in the league, world-class attackers that should compete at the top level.

Even though Mourinho has won four best manager awards, he’s struggling to make his mark at United as the fans are thirsty for their first league title in five years. Humiliation is likely to come his way as the media and some fans have gone against him, whilst results need to be more consistent.

Mourinho has only one way to save his job now, winning trophies and proving that he can beat the top clubs and fight for the league title. Even though fans would love a change in style of play, titles are still to be expected. Fans were delighted when Mourinho won the League Cup, Community Shield, and Europa League all in the same season. His tactics weren’t much different from the previous season, but he’s currently failing to bring the best out of his players.

The transfer market shouldn’t be an excuse. Since Mourinho took charge at Old Trafford, around £400 million has been spent. With that, he should now possess a side that can compete for and even win the league. With the UEFA Champions League starting in nearly a month, the former Real Madrid boss could face the sack if he fails to do well at domestic level during the run-up.

If Mourinho is to be sacked, the most likely and favourable replacement would be Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman won three Champions League titles in as many years with the Los Blancos. Even though he had a world class team with him, his tactics also led them to La Liga glory in the 2016/17 season.

Currently, the Manchester United board are still backing Mourinho, they believe he needs time to fully implement his tactics on the squad having seen World Cup duties hamper his pre-season preparation. Even after a rough start to the season, the Red Devils can still get to rivals Man City and other title contenders. They are still one of the favourites to win the title, though it will be very difficult, yet if the team performs well and if the coaches’ tactics are efficient, then why not?

Now there is one thing Mourinho should be cautious about this season; they are his rivals. His side might have had just one bad day against Brighton, but his defensive style of play will not be strong enough to stop attacking teams like Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, and maybe even Arsenal. He has the players to form a dangerous front three, but he seems reluctant let them off the leash. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard has the potential to be a potent attacking front three, similar to Liverpool’s, with the ability to terrorise any defence it comes across. Add to the mix Paul Pogba’s mercurial, yet ever-inconsistent form, and the likes of Nemanja Matic and Fred – and Mourinho’s side has real potential.

Another flaw in the system is his defensive line. Even though he plays very defensive, his current back four have many problems. They are mostly unorganised, have problems communicating, and have difficulty tracking runs. Last Sunday wasn’t the only example of this, but also Vardy’s goal against United on match-day one. If Mourinho could solve these defensive problems, he might create a defence akin to his first two years at the club, where his side conceded only 29 in the 2016/17 Premier League and 28 last season.

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The Portuguese coach is seemingly on borrowed time to resolve his problems. Being a coach at Man United isn’t easy, the club need someone that can push the team forward week in week out. The question now is, will the criticism get to him? He has been long criticised, especially for his defensive and abrasive management style. Nevertheless, this doesn’t seem to affect him and this could be good and bad for fans. He could be working on something big within his current system, or it means he’s just a bit stubborn and wants to keep playing the way.

Hopefully things get better for Manchester United for the sake of the fans as some are getting tired of Mourinho’s antics. Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, they are yet to find the right man to lead the club. Following consecutive failures with Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes, it currently looks like Jose Mourinho will join the list and United will need to search for yet another manager.

Now it’s only a matter of time before Mourinho’s future is decided. His next match is on Monday against Tottenham. This is the perfect opportunity to show the world that he has what it takes to take down top sides in the league. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side are serious title contenders, so they will give everything for what might be a season defining win.

Mourinho is currently in deep fire, with many believing he’ll be out of Old Trafford by Christmas. Yet it’s still the beginning of the season, many things can change throughout the campaign. Mourinho should really change his style of play as he has some of the best attacking options in England. By not doing so, his job is getting harder and his stubborn ways may eventually lead to an ugly ending for him in the North West.

Helenio Herrera & José Mourinho: Both cut from the same cloth

Past master tactician, Helenio Herrera, and modern-day great, José Mourinho, were doppelgängers in all but looks.

By Danny Wyn Griffith

I have a fair collection of critically acclaimed books, although I’ve probably only completed reading half of them. Much of that is down to the fact I’m easily distracted whilst probably lacking the self-discipline when it comes to finishing something I’ve started. Yet, despite not normally being one for New Year resolutions, this year I set myself the target of actually completing the books I read.

One of the books I’ve had on the go for a couple of months is Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga. The fact this book remains unfinished is in no part down to its content. This, in fact, is a book I’ve enjoyed reading thus far and offers a thorough chronology of La Liga – and arguably Europe’s – biggest rivalry, between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Whilst cracking on with the book last night, I came to a chapter called HH: The Original Special One. Now, I’ve come across Helenio Herrera numerous times over the years whilst researching different pieces. However, last night the surreal similarity in nuances and character, between both himself and José Mourinho, dawned on me.

True, both have followed similar career pathways to a certain extent, but the sameness in which they dealt with aspects of the game stretches much, much further.

Back in 2010, José Mourinho arrived Real Madrid, much the same as Helenio Herrera arrived Barcelona in 1958. Both men were tasked with knocking their arch-rivals off their perch. Both succeeded in similar vain.

Herrera came to Catalonia at a time when the Madridians had won four of the last five league titles, along with the first three European Cups, and they also had Alfredo Di Stefano. Mourinho on the other hand, was called upon by Real Madrid President, Florentino Pérez, at a time when Barcelona had won consecutive league titles, were managed by Pep Guardiola and also had a younger Lionel Messi.

Nevertheless, both had relative success at that they were tasked with. Helenio Herrera lifted the league titles in both his seasons at Barcelona, the 1958/59 Copa del Rey and also picked up two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – similar to the latter UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Whilst José Mourinho’s Real Madrid picked up the 2010/11 Copa del Rey and also beat Barcelona to the 2011/12 La Liga. In doing so, they topped the league by nine points, setting records for most games won in a La Liga season (32), most away wins (16), most points obtained in any of the top European leagues (100), improving the most goals scored record they already held (121) and finished the season with the highest goal difference of +89.

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Helenio Herrera and José Mourinho celebrating their success

Both Helenio Herrera and José Mourinho employed similar tactics to overhaul their rivals. The pair approached their roles with enough aggression, bite and rancour to inspire an entire army, whilst also creating a siege mentality and adopting a win at all costs mentality that was unrelatable to others.

Helenio Herrera, the founder of catenaccio, will forever be known as a true master tactician – despite some calling it anti-football. José Mourinho, revered for his ability to study his opponents to the utter most minuscule detail, arrived at Real Madrid having just won the treble with Inter Milan, and in doing so, knocking Barcelona out of the UEFA Champions League semi finals, despite a 1-0 defeat at the Camp Nou; a defeat Mourinho recalled as “The most beautiful defeat of my life.”

Both are pure controversialists. Helenio Herrera often mentioned in full-view that he believed Real Madrid were paying the referees and opposition, much like José Mourinho stated that Barcelona were diving and cheating their way through matches – and recently referred to Manchester City as a team who “falls over with a little bit of wind.”

They deal in provocation and nothing else. Real Madrid players came to hate Herrera, with some refusing to shake his hand, and even debating a boycott of Spanish duties when he became Spain national team coach between 1959-62. José Mourinho and his role in arguably the most infamous rivalry in modern day sport, between his Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, is just one of many furious scenes he’s been partial to over the years.

Both Herrera and Mourinho are similar in their reputations of creating strong-minded dressing rooms, but that doesn’t stop them from singling out those who fail to follow their strict demands.

Helenio Herrera decided early on at Barcelona that much-talented Barcelona great, László Kubala, had surpassed his peak, and as the team’s highest earner at 1,308,025 pesetas a year, was therefore a burden. Herrera called Kubala out on his fitness and dedication, stating more than once that he believed the Hungarian failed to look after himself during his trophy-laden career. He even called him the ‘cancer’ of the team for constantly slowing his team’s quick tempo.

You need not look further than Mourinho’s current spell as Manchester United manager to spot his willingness to call out his own players. Henrikh Mkhitaryan seems the most recent casualty, whilst Luke Shaw has also bore the brunt for the best part of his Old Trafford reign, with Mourinho previously stating: “I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind.”

José Mourinho has a purpose for each word he states. He delivers them with venom, skill and composure, none more so than his recent spat with Antonio Conte. Get into a verbal slanging match with Mourinho with the utmost caution – his vocabulary and lengths holds no boundaries. He finds no separation between the physical, technical and psychological sides of football, and believes that each match starts at the pre-match media conference. It’s hard not to imagine Helenio Herrera employing the same tactics in today’s media-frenzied game.

José Mourinho, much like Helenio Herrera, is also known for his short-term success – rather than long-term. He builds for the present, and seems to care little for the future. Like Herrera, Mourinho has tendency to focus on players in their prime, and less on potential.

As former Inter Milan Chairman, Massimo Moratti, who employed José Mourinho to great success, just like his old man, Angelo Moratti, did all them years back with Helenio Herrera, once put it: “They have similar characters – great workers, great professionals and charismatic. It’s difficult to find a defect in Mourinho. Perhaps that he is a little bit introverted, but he is marvellous.”

Masters at winning, cut from the same cloth. Helenio Herrera was the special one, fifty years before the dubbed special one.

Now then, where was I on that book…

Chelsea In Crisis, They Say.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea have struggled so far this term. Tommie Collins (@CymroPort) gives his opinion on the matter.

 

By Tommie Collins.

As a long standing Chelsea fan since the 70’s, this so-called crisis amuses me.

The Chelsea team I chose to support because of the white stripe on their shorts – who went 27 years without winning a trophy of note – that previously teetered on the brink of relegation to the old Third Division in 1983 – who sack managers at will – that were European Champions three years ago and won the league at a canter last season.

They are now in the middle of a crisis, apparently.

Chelsea have the most successful manager in their history at the helm – although some beg to differ that we don’t actually have a history.

However, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are now languishing in the lower reaches of the English Premier League with rival fans tipping the special, grumpy or sometimes happy one as the next in line for the chop.

Come on, will you – we were a poor side in crisis way back in those heady days of the late 70’s and early 80’s. See above for more details.

Onto this current crisis we go.

We are talking about the team who romped to the title a few months back, with fans and press alike handing out plaudits to the likes of John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas – who I had reservations about from the start.

Why you ask? It was nothing to do with Cesc really, it had everything to do with the club’s philosophy of signing young players at will only to loan them out to other clubs – eh let’s just say a certain club that participate in the Dutch Eredivise.

It was the sheer arrogance of the club’s “we’ll buy because we can” attitude. I and many other long-term fans believed youth should have had their chance.

This current crisis is thought to have started back in pre-season – or the lack of it, according to some murmurs.

Too many players have underperformed since. Ivanovic, Matic, Hazard and Fabregas spring to mind. The latter, according to some fans that go week in, week out seems like he just doesn’t have the desire to perform at the top level every match: he’s been having a right mare, actually.

So José the magician is having his first crisis as a manager.

The Eva Carneiro incident has clearly affected him and the club also. In my opinon, José got that wrong.

The indiscriminate substitutions and dropping of players – especially the captain, leader, legend John Terry – suggests that something is wrong in the camp.

The futile attempt to coax John Stones from Everton ended in disaster and gave a message that José can no longer buy anyone he takes a fancy to. This also proved another kick in the teeth for many a youngster waiting in the shadows.

Chelsea have made errors in the past by sacking or not awarding contracts to managers at vital times. The McCreadie incident with the row in the 70’s springs to mind, whilst more recently you have the Carlo Ancelotti dismissal.

Getting rid of Ancelotti was a huge mistake, in my opinion. A mistake the club took a long time to recover from. Therefore, we need to stick with José now.

For some fans, this man can do no wrong and they’re entitled to their opinions, but for me he should toe the line and keep quiet during some situations. If the dressing room holds egos and players want him out, then they are doing a mighty good job of accomplishing it.

In life, we all make mistakes and should show some humility when they are made. I think it’s time for the special one to admit to the former and improve on the latter, perhaps.

Keep the faith.

Tommie Collins.

Tommie with José last season.

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