Having been a manager for 15 years with six different clubs and the same assistant, I analyse what is going wrong for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
“Getting draws but deserving victories so our opponents are leaving the stadium super-happy with draws they don’t deserve.”
“My last league title was 18 months ago – not 18 years ago” said Jose Mourinho who reminded journalists that they should be writing him off at their peril after Manchester United’s draw at home with Arsenal.
During his three seasons at Chelsea from 2012/13 up until 2015/16 Jose Mourinho lost five home games with Chelsea. Four of those came in his last season between August to November. Previously before the loss of those four games last season, he lost only five games at home out of 253 matches.
His win percentage with Chelsea and Manchester United combined – reads as; 37%.
His win percentage with Chelsea in his first two seasons; 2013/14 – 65%, 2014/15 – 69%.
This season, already he has lost a home game, although, he could be forgiven as it was against a rampant Manchester City, coached by his arch rival – Pep Guardiola.
Is the game passing Mourinho by, as he sticks to his tried and tested simple formula?
“If it was easy, the ones who were here before would do it. We had a lot of work in front and it is what we are doing. It is big work and we are also used to big clubs and we know how to take a big club to win. We know we will get it.” said Rui Faria after United’s draw at home to West Ham.
Mourinho and his backroom staff never said it was going to be easy but they have spent 150 million plus on new recruits for the squad and they also had over six months to analyse the United squad when they were out work after being sacked by Mr. Abramovich, on where they could have improved the team, and what players might be surplus to requirements.
To make things worse for his side, they are well down the pecking order in terms of distance covered in the Premier League.(they were bottom of distance covered last month) Not something we have come to know about a Mourinho team, usually they are a strong, quick and athletic side.
Manchester City and Liverpool are the top end of the table of distance covered and they are six and seven points clear of United respectively. Both sides are playing a possession, pressing and, hard running game. Hard running is something that usually we would associate with a Jose team.
Mourinho’s game plan has always been about – don’t concede, score first and, kill the game but, what does he coach the team if they go a goal down?
In the 4-0 annihilation by Chelsea – at Stamford Bridge, they were 1-0 down after 30 seconds and from then on, the United squad looked lost at sea – mistake after mistake.
The Watford game was the same except United got back into it at 1-1 when Rashford equalised. However deja-vu again as they crumbled and were at sixes and sevens – losing 3-1 that day.
United had drawn four home league games in a row, with a victory away to Swansea thrown in. Mourinho whispered sweet nothings into Antonio Conte’s ear (in front of the cameras) after the Chelsea game and, at half time in the Burnley game, he was sent to the stands. But why? It is always portrayed that he always does something for a reason, he is calculated, and this is supposed to deflect from his team when they lose or, drop points.
This was suggested when being sent to the stands against Burnley, Jose would not be allowed to do media duties after the game. This was left to his assistant manager – Rui Faria.
Mourinho has worked with Faria and his goalkeeping coach for 15 years. Fifteen years have yielded six different clubs in four different countries but, is this part of the problem with him now that he has had the same assistant for nearly 16 years?
Sir Alex Ferguson in his 27 years as manager of Manchester United had seven different assistant managers. The longest of which was Brian Kidd, between 1991 – 1999.
Ferguson was always prepared to accept when the time was right to freshen up the coaching or his assistants. Jose has yet to convince himself that maybe, a change in his assistant might actually be a good thing for himself firstly, and secondly, the team.
When Rui Faira was sent to do media duties after the Burnley game, it was so striking as to how closely he resembled his boss. His answer was laced with sarcasm and he was clearly tense but then going on to say that the referee had given a fantastic performance.
‘I just want to say fantastic work from the referee, I will not say more than this.’ he said.
Asked about Mourinho’s own sending off, which saw the United manager sent to the stands shortly after half-time, Faria continued: “To be fair I don’t know and I don’t think it’s very important”.
They have worked with each other for so long, so used to each other and, so immersed in one another, that their simple formula of working at clubs 12 years ago is now not working.
“In this moment we are more looking to the team and trying to get the best results,” he said. We believe things will change and what we are chasing will arrive for sure.” said Rui Faria, under pressure after United’s fourth draw at home in the league against West Ham.
Minor details maybe, or, things that people might think are relevant but, the fact is Manchester United, have spent the most amount of money out of any other team in the world in the summer, are in sixth place, 13 points off Chelsea in first 10 points off Arsenal in second place and, seven off Liverpool in third.
His body language is poor, the spark seems to be gone and only recently did he call his life in Manchester – ‘a disaster’.
Maybe he was trying to deflect from his team again but it also offers an insight into Mourinho that he is isn’t an unbreakable manager sprinkled with charisma and confidence. He may actually be quite lonely.
If United don’t pick up a trophy and fail to finish fourth, he might have no other choice to consider freshening up his backroom team but then again, maybe he won’t because he is a naturally stubborn man and also of the way he likes to be seen .
Although, it might go a long to reenergising one of the greatest managers in the last ten years or, even ever.
“You try to keep playing well. This is what we are doing for a long time, playing well – better than our opponents. Getting draws but deserving victories so our opponents are leaving the stadium super-happy with draws they don’t deserve. We cannot do nothing. We go back to work.” said Mourinho after the latest draw away to Everton.
He is sticking to his script of his team being unlucky but if he had been more positive with his substitutions early in the second half against the Toffees and tried to kill the game, Fellaini might not have come into the game.
“We have been playing so well but not getting results,” he said after his side’s one nil victory over Tottenham.
“We needed the result today, even if the performance could be not as good as the others. But that was not the case. I think the performance was even better than the others because we were playing against a very good team. The one – nil was like magic for us”
“But once more, the goalkeeper [Hugo Lloris] was not the Man of the Match,” he joked.
It was a welcome win for him and his side, but they still lie sixth in the table, three points off Spurs and six off City in fourth place, who all of sudden find themselves in a rotten run of form.
Rarely is he relaxed but only recently has he stumbled upon his best starting XI, and up until now his side were bottom of the table in distance covered. With the Europa League out of the way until February, the focus must be on putting the fear into teams coming to Old Trafford and to climb up the league table. Otherwise the questions won’t go away for Mourinho and this United team.