Man United go into a huge week with the odds against them
Mourinho, 55, demands unflinching control. He favours inexperienced players who are predictable over young players who may have been a better fit but are erratic. He likes players who have less time on the pitch because they are still capable of bending to his will.
But Mourinho has not always been this way. Those who know Mourinho say the change in him began during the meltdown in Madrid and it fully-fledged into who he is today during his second spell in Chelsea. In the words of a former player, the current version of Mourinho is “not the coach I played for.”
“Jose, he is used to winning,” Carvalho says. “And when he doesn’t win, it gets a little more difficult to live with that.”
The Red Devils are seventh in the Premier League after 11 matches of the 2018-19 campaign, nine points behind local rivals Manchester City. Mourinho’s men secured back-to-back wins with a 2-1 triumph away to Bournemouth on Saturday, but the result has done little to lift the mood of unease at Old Trafford.
Managing Manchester United was supposed to be a rebirth for Mourinho, but it didn’t happen. In Mourinho’s first season, United finished second in the Premier League and lost the FA Cup, while also being knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. Fans were not impressed and yearned for Ferguson’s attacking and incisive approach. After which, his disappointing results continued to pile up.
Mourinho has been blessed to have the opportunity to coach Real Madrid and Manchester United, but he was also ‘unlucky’ because of Guardiola. Mourinho joined Madrid at the height of its crisis period, an era exacerbated by the fact that Guardiola and Barcelona are so innovative and dominant that some regard them as the best to go down in history.
When Mourinho moved on to United, he joined a team which at the time was excessively incoherent, and during that time Guardiola who at the time was managing Manchester City transformed from an awful club to a powerhouse.
Guardiola has a modern progressive football approach, while Mourinho has no forward-thinking whatsoever. United is in many ways the same club it was under Ferguson, who retired in 2013.
“The structure is not right for Jose,” Mourinho’s close friend says (reported by ESPN). “So he feels attacked. And when Jose feels attacked, he puts his fists up. That is what is happening — he is walking around with his fists up all the time at Manchester.”
Mourinho is under constant attack for his tactic, motivational techniques, and pretty much everything he does. The reality is Mourinho is incapable of change, and the stars of the new generation do not want to continue following someone with no direction. However, the Portuguese boss seems to have one player rooting for him, as Matic has backed the manager ahead of their Champions League showdown against Juventus on Wednesday.
“He’s a great person,” the 30-year-old told Sky Sports. “He’s a different man outside the job and off the pitch.
“He’s happy when he’s winning but when we lose, like every manager, he wants us to do better. He tries to find a way to be winning as soon as possible.
“One thing is for sure that since he’s been in the Premier League he’s changed a lot in the league. The Premier League has become more interesting with him.”
Will Mourinho be able to get Man United back on a winning path?
All that seems certain is that Mourinho will not fade away. He will not step back gracefully. He will not succumb to others. He likes the excitement of it all and holding up his three fingers to remind people where he came from and what he has done.
“Football is his life,” Lampard says. “and he’s had so much success. I don’t think [having] so much success makes you not want any more … I think it [does make] you want more.”
For Mourinho, it’s all he knows.