The bottom line is that Jose cannot manage a young group of talented players. Nor can be someone who can stay at a club to on a long-term project. And after his sacking today, he certainly cannot be a manager as the biggest clubs in the world. But most importantly, he cannot field a team that plays good football – not that this was a way he made a name for himself.
The Chosen One was once one of the best managers in association football. But with season after season where he failed to win meaningful silverware and with every dramatic exit, his glory years receded to become pages in the history books of the game. His just-over-two-years at Manchester United is quantifiably worse than his second spell at Stamford Bridge. No league title to show despite a side that in the estimation of some might be much more talented. His run at Old Trafford might have little to show far though it has cemented certain notions about the disgruntled Portuguese manager.
Everything that went wrong in Chelsea followed him to United and became the undeniable truth. The only ego that reigns supreme over the locker-room is his own. Young players are not to be part of his short-term goals. Time is not of the essence. He came, saw, and left for the first time with nothing to show for it. Never one to play an exciting style of football, he now is clear that he is not capable of playing a winning style of football. He is a top manager in the sense that his glory days are well behind him. Football has evolved and he has failed to understand and adapt.
The events that have unfolded since the summer of 2016 should be a surprise to nobody. There is a fine line between hope and delusional. Mourinho was once a manager who rode the wave of hope and brought in results from the get-go. Hope that he could bring back the days of a bygone era. Either that or instill a binding philosophy like he has done in Porto, Chelsea, and Inter Milan. For anyone who had this feeling were taking a trip down memory lane of an archaic footballing mentality. The notion that Mourinho could win a title with his backward ways is simply delusional. And after return to Chelsea, it was clear that his man was not the same.
Football has changed though Mourinho and his followers still behind they had enough juice among them to put out a product that could be both outdated and successful. The generation of players that were the most successful under the now 55-year-old. The giants of yesterday say their best years under him and would fight tooth and nail to back Mourinho. The likes of Deco, and Terry, and Drogba were all powerful voices in locker-rooms. Yet, none of these three or the many other players Jose once coached quite had the influence that the modern player has. Today’s generation of athletes are vehemently different and this may be the single biggest contributor to Mourinho’s demise. The once common method of confrontation – private or otherwise – does not fly today. Not that they are soft, but players today now that they wield so much more power and that clubs value these individuals over coaching. The conspiracy theorist within me is tingling. Despite everything we know that happened in the fallout of Mourinho’s tenure in Real Madrid, a part of me still feels that we are missing a key event that has changed his outlook on coaching and player relations. That being said, his old ways were deemed extinct at Stamford Bridge when up-and-coming stars like Oscar and Eden Hazard began to tune out Jose. And this was taken to the next level in Manchester.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku, David de Gea, Scott McTominay, and Paul Pogba. Contrary to Mourinho’s belief, this is one of the best young cores that any European team can have. There are teams and coaches out there who would do unspeakable things to have a roster containing these players. And in his two-and-a-half-years, Mourinho has failed to improve and get the best out of any of these players. He has done quite the opposite. He went out of his way to create hostilities between him and his locker-room – many of which happened in the public arena. If his is unable to recognize the errors of his ways, then his ego is a lot larger than we thought.
Just like anyone above the age of 50, Mourinho was not immune to the fact that he simply does not understand millennials. He has not made any efforts to try and ingratiate himself among them and clearly hates their care-free days. Paul Pogba best can best exemplify this. The physical embodiment of the millennial superstar, the Frenchman is a brand of his own. The old-school militaristic approach of the bygone generation is something he comes at odd with. Nearly £90 million of talent has rotted on the bench for game after game. He will be capable of single-handedly changing the outcomes of games for years to come. And yet, he spent 90 minutes on the bench for what would be Mourinho’s final game as the United Boss.
The disconnect between him and a new generation of players has resulted in his inability to read today’s football. Physical and organized play that was disciplined and pragmatic; this is the style that helped Mourinho stamp his mark on the world during the early to mid-2000s. This was also seen in the kind of players that he brought in and helped flourish. It was this philosophy that won him titles galore as he galavanted from club to club on a livelong European tour.
There are two major events that changed the path for Mourinho. The first was being looked over the Barcelona job in favor for the then B-Team coach, Pep Guardiola. And the second is my unsubstantiated conspiracy theory of an unspoken event during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu. Let’s focus on Pep for now. His approach to football is something that everyone now tries to replicate. Defending through their attack, a relentless high press, possession, and pace based football that is beautiful for all to watch – this is Pep Guardiola broiled down in a few words and every top club team is using the same formula. This current generation is in love with Pep’s style of play with almost no-one wanting to play the sluggish style of the previous decade. Take a look at Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Tottenham, PSG, and Napoli to name a few. The vibes and body language of players of these teams on the pitch are so much more vibrant than the lifeless bodies that don the emblem of the Red Devils.
United vs Tottenham, Chelsea vs United, both fixture vs Juventus, City vs United, United vs Arsenal, Liverpool vs United. The one game of the above that Mourinho came out on top was against the Old Lady in Turin. In each and every game, it looked as though someone had used a time machine to bring a team from the 1800s and have them play in the colors of Manchester United. Spurs came, saw, and conquered Old Trafford. City had already won before the game could begin. And Liverpool tore a chasm in United’s own third.
To think how good United would be with Guardiola, Klopp or Pochettino (the latter of whom is among the favorites to succeed Mourinho). Instead of playing the modern style that is employed by the crème de la crème, Mourinho is hell-bent on the yesteryear ways. A man who simply did not look interested in developing the ample talent at his fingerprints is now gone. One can only hope that Ed Woodward can put some genuine thought into hiring both a quality successor and a Director of Football who can drag United from the past to the present.