According to Jose Mourinho’s “dictionary of life”, people with a lot of ideas are either idealists or idiots.
As such, writing an opinion piece on the Manchester United manager’s recent musings probably qualifies as a fool’s errand, but Omnisport’s Dom Farrell has done just that.
Here are his thoughts on Friday’s remarkable news conference.
Jose Mourinho’s attempts at damage control in the hours and days following Wednesday’s meek Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla – not dissimilar, one would imagine, to how a pyromaniac might approach a job with the fire brigade – show he is increasingly ill-suited to the biggest jobs in world football.
The 55-year-old finest achievements came with Porto at the start of this century, Chelsea between 2004 and 2006 and Inter, where his tenure concluded with a historic treble in 2009-10.
They are accomplishments that rightly place Mourinho among the all-time greats of the dugout.
No team outside of Europe’s “big five” leagues had won the Champions League in the eight years before Porto concluded their phenomenal 2003-04 run with a 3-0 final win over Monaco and none have managed the feat since.
That paved the way for a move to Chelsea, already flushed with Roman Abramovich’s riches but without an English top-flight title since 1954-55. In 2004-05, Mourinho delivered instantly and retained the crown the following year.
Inter were already standing above the wreckage of the Calciopoli era in Serie A when Mourinho arrived in 2008 but their previous European Cup win belonged to 1965 and black and white television. Overcoming Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals and dispatching Bayern Munich in a Madrid final gave him a crowning moment.
This was the peak of Mourinho the messiah. Follow his methods unquestionably and untold riches were guaranteed. Wildest dreams were realised. He was the way and the undisputed truth.
Of course, there was a Copa del Rey and LaLiga title at Real Madrid and United collected the EFL Cup and Europa League last year, but it is telling that Mourinho’s spells with the two super clubs have felt more like a torrent of relentless invective than carefully plotted bids for trophies. When he is compared with a history of success that is not his own things become complicated
Amid Friday’s scattergun ravings, where a number of salient points were undermined by grasping self-pity, Mourinho attempted to throw out Manchester United’s trophy-laden recent past and reframe it in terms of the relative wasteland of the post-Alex Ferguson years.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 16, 2018
When a fanbase has unfaded memories of dominance and has seen riches supplied by other heroes, Mourinho’s my-way-or-no-way stance will not wash.
He was right to point to Sevilla’s impressive European pedigree, but to argue a club that topped the Deloitte’s latest Football Money League, fielding a £75million striker and with a £89.3m midfielder on the bench, was not well-resourced enough to plot a route to the Champions League quarter-finals is nonsense.
Repeated references to “football heritage” were the foundations of a self-preservation act built on sand.
Mourinho’s nemesis Guardiola, thriving so brilliantly across town with Manchester City, has outspent United and by all reasonable measures had a more encouraging inheritance than Mourinho at Old Trafford.
However, both clubs finished 2015-16 locked on a disappointing 66 points before their new managers arrived. City and United have each improved significantly since, but the current 16-point gap at the summit speaks ill of Mourinho as much as it speaks very well of Guardiola.
One of the underwhelming bunch Mourinho found at United, Marcos Rojo, signed a new contract shortly before the Portuguese spoke disparagingly of the deadwood he wearily shifted out last year.
“The players who left the club last season. See where they play, how they play, if they play,” he said, witheringly.
To look at City’s heritage in this area, it is worth considering the current fortunes of Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Wilfried Bony, Joe Hart, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy. Again, Mourinho undermined a valid point by suggesting he is the only top-level manager enduring a particular struggle.
In defiance and offering assurances United would not be looking for a new boss anytime soon, he also told reporters: “I could be in another country, with the league in the pocket.”
Maybe, at this stage of his fine career, that is actually what Mourinho needs. A project where he can redefine what success means at a club, where his truths will go unchallenged and he will only be defined by himself. Recent wins over Chelsea and Liverpool showed the sharp, potent tactician remains.
But this week’s rants at enemies real and imagined, as Mourinho grapples with the weight of history and expectation at United, recall his unsatisfactory demise at Madrid and are difficult to watch.
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