Man Utd news: Jose Mourinho meltdown could be the beginning of the end at Old Trafford
Three years ago Mourinho returned from America unhappy with the condition and attitude of his squad who had romped to the Premier League title in the previous campaign – as well as being deeply frustrated by a lack of top signings.
After an unimpressive tour, Chelsea looked under-cooked, crashed to a 3-0 Community Shield defeat to Arsenal before Mourinho sparked the “doctorgate” controversy on the opening day of the season that led to the demotion of first team doctor Eva Carneiro.
Things went from bad to worse and he was gone before Christmas.
The similarities to 2015 are striking so perhaps it isn’t too surprising that one bookmaker on Monday made him favourite to be the first top flight manager to leave his post in the coming season.
Three summers ago his attempts to prise John Stones away from Everton failed. This summer he seems resigned for more frustration in his bid to add either Harry Maguire or Toby Alderweireld to the three players signed – Fred, Diogo Dalot and back-up keeper Lee Grant.
Just like his criticism of Diego Costa’s physical state in 2015, Mourinho has surprisingly singled out skipper Antonio Valencia with the cutting remark “maybe he has enjoyed too much holiday, his condition was not good when he was back.”
On top of that he has suggested in an interview with the club’s own television channel that Antony Martial – who was given permission to leave the tour for the birth of his second child – should have returned for the final tour games in Michigan and Miami after his son was born, especially as Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford were on post-World Cup breaks.
United were concerned at the potential inflammatory effect of the remarks, but they were broadcast before they could be vetoed, with club sources since claiming there was no problem with them being aired.
Mourinho, no doubt, may have had Fabian Delph in mind – the Manchester City and England midfielder flew home from Russia midway through the World Cup for the birth of his third daughter but rejoined Gareth Southgate’s within a couple of days.
The big difference is that Martial wants out.
And Mourinho hasn’t helped himself by striking an increasingly negative tone. With the new season now just 10 days away, the Portugeuse man o’ war has cut such an angry and frustrated figure that players, staff and officials are said to be on edge around him.
One senior United player was so concerned about Mourinho’s reaction to an interview he gave to the media on tour, that he insisted his answer to one question was pulled to avoid further antagonising his manager.
Mourinho seems to be finding fault with everything but accepting responsibility for none of it, and it is wearing thin with many fans, not to mention United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his fellow directors.
United have American owners and their shirt sponsor is US car giant Chevrolet so to slag off the International Champions Cup tour as “being worthless” to him and questioning why fans have bothered to buy tickets, will not go down well. Referees haven’t escape his wrath either – accusing them of being recruited from baseball.
Understandably, Mourinho is unhappy that so many of his stars are absent from the tour because of post-World Cup breaks but that is invariably the case for top clubs in pre-season in the summer of a major championship – United’s neighbours City are in exactly the same boat.
His mood was not improved either by the news that Nemanja Matic will miss the start of the season after abdominal surgery – one of 17 players who has been unavailable in the build-up to the season.
What has really upset many fans, is that instead of publicly praising and encouraging the youngsters he has been using to fill the gaps left by his absent stars, he has basically thrown them under a bus by declaring most of them will be shipped out on loan.
Contrast his comments with those of Jurgen Klopp about Liverpool youngsters Sheyi Ojo and Ben Woodburn after they had dismantled a deplted Untied team 4-1 in Ann Arbor at the weekend.
Believing in the players he has is proving to be a problem for Mourinho bearing in mind few of them have escaped his criticism over the last couple of years. All they are hearing is the manager’s negativity and complaints.
Against this backdrop, Mourinho is preparing for a crucial season. United haven’t won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and although they finished second last season they were some distance behind champions City. And at the moment, there is not a lot of optimism among United followers that the gap can be closed.
Another defeat to Champions League winners Real Madrid in their final tour game in Miami in the early hours of Wednesday morning will no doubt further darken Mourinho’s mood.