Tanya Lee | It’s deja vu for Jose Mourinho
Another season, another round of drama for the Manchester United faithful as newly embattled coach Jose Mourinho is off to a shaky start with just one win from three matches. Most distressing of all was a demoralising 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford courtesy of Tottenham.
With a wealth of talent in Manchester United's squad, including World Cup winner Paul Pogba in midfield, this is a surprisingly poor start for the special one and his troops.
It seems Mourinho is having an especially hard time, not solely based on those results, but based on a strained relationship with a few of his key players, which has reportedly caused discomfort in the dressing room.
His defensive tactics have also left him with little support for Manchester United diehards. Even club ambassadors, such as Dwight Yorke, have been publicly been critical of 'the special one's defensive style of play. The criticism has grown so loud that there are reports that the ambassadors have been contacted this week via email in a bid to quell public criticism and pull support for the embattled manager.
Now, the anti-Mourinho sentiments and dissent in the dressing room are of little surprise to anyone who has followed his career over the past ten seasons. This is pretty much par for the course and represents the biggest fears many had about Mourinho joining Manchester United to begin with.
Now, let me just add that 'the special one' is an immensely talented coach. He is highly regarded as one of the most successful managers in the world, largely because he has won it all at the club level.
Mourinho has four FIFA club Coach of the Year awards, two UEFA Champions League titles, three English Premier League titles, three La Liga titles, and impressively handed Internazionale the first treble in Italian football history. With over 24 trophies to his name, it is clear that Mourinho will place trophies in any club's cabinet during his tenure.
But that tenure, apparently, shouldn't go beyond three seasons. The formula is he makes big purchases in year one, wins by year two then alienates his charges by the third season.
We saw this during his second stint at Chelsea FC, where the players and Jose had such a strained relationship that they essentially stopped performing on the pitch and were facing the relegation zone before he was sacked. Incredulously, Mourinho had won the premier league title for Chelsea in the previous season.
And now, here we are. It's deja vu for Manchester United. Mourinho delivered a much-needed Europa League title in his first season to take Manchester United back to the UEFA Champions League. He was second behind winners Manchester City in the second season, and now, in the third, he is clearly at odds with his key players.
And they may be demoralised with good reason. Just recently, Mourinho publicly criticised 22-year-old Anthony Martial.
Martial was fined £180,000 in the summer after he left United's pre-season tour to attend the birth of his son. Mourinho's criticism was, in my view, unwarranted, considering that this was Martial's first child, his partner was unwell after the birth- and it was a preseason fixture of little consequence.
We've also heard there's no love lost between Pogba and Mourinho. Pogba, in a recent post-match interview said that he could not speak in depth about his situation at United because he would get fined.
Pogba's comments were very telling, even though he said little. It alludes to how sour things are for him at the club that the FIFA World Cup winner and natural leader would make such public pronouncements.
And the $75-million dollar man Romelo Lukaku has openly supported Mourinho as ''a really cool guy behind the scenes", but he seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence in front of goal. One wonders if this has anything to do with JosÈ, who was critical of the Belgian attack in his role as analyst during the FIFA World Cup. Mourinho referenced the Belgian attack as 'lazy'. One could not help but notice that this included his prolific scorer, Lukaku. Surely this could not have missed the ears of Lukaku and his family.
And so, it's dÈj‡ vu once again for Jose Mourinho. Now, we wait to see if he will suffer the same fate as he did at Chelsea. Only time will tell.
- Tanya Lee is a Caribbean sports marketer, author, and publicist. Follow her @tanyattlee on Instagram.