Jose Mourinho: What Went Wrong in Manchester


Early Tuesday morning Manchester United announced the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho after two and a half roller coaster years at the club. United currently find themselves in 6th, 11 points out of the top 4 and 19 points from first place. United have been awful this season and many believe Mourinho is to blame.

In an era where players have more influence than ever, Mourinho has failed to adapt. This sacking marks the third time in a row Mourinho has left a club in controversial manner. His tenure at Madrid was marked with feuds with star players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos. His tenure at Chelsea ended after a falling out with Eden Hazard and other stars who practically refused to play for him. United then gave him a chance but Mourinho would once again fall out with his star players and was fired days after reports came out that he had lost 90% of the locker room.

Mourinho employs a traditional coaching style that views the players like military personnel. Discipline is paramount, loyalty is expected and all pieces are interchangeable because no one player is bigger than the team. This sounds wonderful on paper but when you employ stars the likes of Ronaldo, Hazard and Pogba, preferential treatment becomes a must. Long gone are the days where Ferguson sold the likes of Beckham and Van Nistelrooy because they thought they were bigger than the club. Mourinho does not have the reputation the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger carried so when he starts finger pointing when things go wrong, the club tends to turn on him.

Amazingly, despite a trophy ladened 18-year coaching career, Mourinho has yet to spend more than three years at a club. His tenures are marked with optimistic starts followed by great success but ultimately awful endings.

Part of Mourinho's problem is that he does not present an attractive playing style and has never pretended to do so. Mourinho will be the first to tell you that he would rather draw with a defensive mindset than risk losing with an attacking mindset and in his mind this justifies his extremely defensive playing style. The problem comes when the playing style is awful to watch and the team is no longer winning. Part of why Wenger kept his job despite 9 trophy-less seasons was the attractive playing style his teams employed which kept supporters interested and engaged. Today the best managers and the most successful clubs often play with a reckless abandon for the defensive side of the game and that has bought them the excuse needed when things go wrong. Mourinho refuses to adapt, he would rather remain the old man reminiscing about the old days where things were different.

Maybe Mourinho failed to adapt because he was too close to the game and could not see the game change despite of him. Perhaps, Mourinho will take this time off to gain a perspective on how coaching and the game have changed. However, things don't look good. I can't think of any big club that would employ Mourinho in the near future.