“I have a problem, which is I’m getting better at everything related to my job since I started”, Jose Mourinho told Telegraph in an interview back in 2015.
Having won league titles in each of the four countries he managed, the Portuguese tactician was feeling comfortable back at Stamford Bridge in his second Chelsea spell at the time of that interview.
The Premier League Manager of the Season at the time could not have imagined that things would go on to change dramatically in just a couple of month’s time as he got sacked by Chelsea in December 2015 despite leading the Blues to the Premier League glory and signing a new four-year contract in August.
A string of nine defeats in 16 league matches were more than enough for Roman Abramovich to wield axe in a familiar style – similarly to what he’s done to Antonio Conte in the summer of 2018 after all.
The Special One or the Moaning One?
From a statistical point of view, Jose Mourinho was still boasting a trophy-laden record at the time which definitely made him one of the most successful manager in world football. And it still does. But the problem is, with Jose Mourinho, he appears to be losing pace behind the unstoppable football progress.
Renowned for his tactical prowess, an impressive game and player management, Jose Mourinho has always been known as a supreme motivator. Still, the Portuguese is showing signs of a diminished adaptability to different situations; whether it’s been a case of losing his grip over the dressing room and, most recently, chronic moanings over the tiniest of things.
Jose Mourinho quickly went from being the Special One to a Moaning One due to his acute sullen demeanor which came close to defining his entire time at Manchester United. Constant complains over the squad at his disposal, below-the-waist public comments about his own players and groaning that both the Premier League and officials are against him are slowly shaping Jose Mourinho into a grumpy old man, unworthy of calling himself Special.
Fact of the matter, the Manchester United manager has not been special for quite some time.
It’s fair to say that Jose Mourinho hasn’t been the same manager since 2012. Having won a record 32nd La Liga title with Los Blancos, the Portuguese led Real Madrid to a record-breaking season which saw them collect 100 points in a single season, score a record 121 goals and maintain a goal difference of +89. With 32 overall wins in the league, Real Madrid also achieved a record 16 victories away from home.
It was a domestic season to remember as Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid broke the Barcelona mould in formidable fashion and in style.
Style and swagger, however, are not exactly attributes you could use to describe today’s Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United for that matter.
Without even a mention of the curious case of Luke Shaw, Mourinho’s constant rearguard and a defensively-oriented approach to his football have most recently saw him transform one Anthony Martial from a flamboyant forward into a low-confidence player hiding in his shell.
Guardian of the Rearguard
It’s almost the same thing he tried to do with Paul Pogba. The Frenchman re-joined Manchester United in a record deal as one of the most exciting attack-minded midfielders capable of breaking forward at incredible pace, firing a long-rage shot on goal or producing a piece of magic in form of an assist.
None of those things were seen in his play under Jose Mourinho, however, who insisted Paul Pogba needed to take better care of defensive duties. Putting a player of Pogba’s ability in a confinement of such sort was an irk for the fans during the 2017/18 season.
Red Devils became a team afraid of losing with fear limiting their ability to attack. With all the attacking ability lurking inside the likes of aforementioned Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, but also marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez – another duo with the ability to burn – Manchester United are criminally underusing their own potential.
With Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino all exciting supporters of their respective clubs by bringing plenty of flair and dynamism into their style of play it is a grumpy old man Jose Mourinho who’s lagging behind, engrossed in his moaning.
The Portuguese has already started making excuses with the new season yet to start.
“Everything is really bad.”, was a sentence piercing through his news conference at UCLA on Wednesday ahead of the 1-1 draw with Club America.
Once a Special One is being self-devolved into an incomprehensibly Miserable One whose side is currently looking at a 6/1 price to win the Premier League title next season. It is to be argued that such odds will do little justice to team’s genuine chances of fighting against the high-octane morale-bursting rivals in the Premier League.
The question remains – and the Manchester United players are likely to ask it themselves – whatever happened to that self-assured man from 2015?
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