No way Jose

Published: Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Well that’s another one I got spectacularly wrong! I remember writing that I believed Mourinho and Manchester United were a ‘match made in heaven’. In fact, I was so sure about it that I had United to win the title in his first season at Old Trafford. Er - wrong. And wrong again!

My reasoning was that Mourinho had been the course before. I reckoned that Guardiola would need a year to adapt, but once he had there would be trouble for the rest. So, I’ll claw back a little bit of respect there!

I just couldn’t see how Mourinho could fail. He’d got a job he’d always coveted. He knew the Premier League. He was smiling again and he was going to get backing from United - to date £401m of it.

He hasn’t failed entirely. He’s won trophies. He returned United to the Champions League, but not with a smile or a swagger, it’s all been done with a growling, snarling aggression.

I don’t have a problem with ‘effective’ football. There are many different ways to play the game. If you’re Sean Dyche you’ve got to ‘grind’. You’ve got to work damned hard for everything you get. Nothing comes easy. But that shouldn’t be the case at United. Never the case at United.

There’s no fun anymore at Old Trafford. It’s hard watching United. They’re slow. They’re laborious. They don’t frighten the opposition these days. At the weekend Brighton were the better team. They were better in every position.

Mourinho sat brooding. His players largely ignored him.

 

All of this is made a whole lot worse because City are continually sweeping teams away. They’re a joy to watch. An absolute joy. They reflect Guardiola’s stylish attitude.

I checked the figures - he’s had money too, about £100m more than Mourinho in the same period of time, but how much better has he spent it? The evidence is there for us all to see

Mourinho’s whole career has been spent fighting. It’s an attitude that worked for him at Porto Chelsea (first time round) and Inter. But they ran him out of town in Madrid, Chelsea (second time round) and they’re going to in Manchester.

I’ve read everything on his latest meltdown. Everybody has got a theory. Some blame Ed Woodward and I’ve been critical of the Chief Exec in the past, but not this time.

Here’s why. I’m hearing players no longer want to play for Mourinho. Woodward did his best to persuade a number of targets to sign this summer, but they won’t. They don’t like Mourinho. They don’t like his style of football. The glamour of playing for United is no longer a big enough draw.

It’s happened to United before, so don’t tell me I’m talking nonsense. Tony Kroos decided he didn’t want to play under LVG for a second time when he was leaving Bayern. David Moyes had spent hours and days, running into weeks, getting Kroos to agree to join him at United. Moyes was certain he’d be signing. I mean ‘certain’. But then United changed manager and the deal was off. After an unhappy time in Munich with LVG there was no way he was volunteering for more at Old Trafford.

There are plenty of options for the players that United want to go elsewhere. At one time it was unthinkable that Old Trafford wouldn’t be their automatic choice. Not now. So don’t blame Woodward entirely.

I hinted that I thought Mourinho would be the first to go this season. If Puel survives at Leicester I’m pretty sure he will be. And don’t believe what you here about United insisting his job is safe - it’s about as safe as LVG’s was after all the assurances he got as Mourinho waited in the wings.

One last thing on this. When is somebody going to ask Mourinho if he got the chance to sign Ronaldo in the summer. I know the answer. I’d love to hear his.

Liverpool used ‘effective’ football at Palace. They’re my tip this season as you know. I’m even more comfortable with it having seen them at Palace. They dug a result out that in previous years would’ve eluded them. That’s title winning football.

But so was City’s. What else can you say about them that hasn’t already been said?

Spurs did their job. Chelsea got over the line, but like a lot of other people I’m not sure they’ll get what they want from the season with David Luiz playing in a 4-man defence. I thought there were signs for Arsenal, but it’s going to be a long and painful overhaul. I wish Emery well, but I was never sure he was the right man for the job. I’m still not.

Well played Watford. It’s been a great start - and Bournemouth. What about the job Eddie Howe has done - from 91st in the pyramid to 6th. Fantastic. But, of course, there no chance of him ever getting a ‘big’ job. He’s British.