Friday 9 December 2016

Sports psychologist has advice for Jose Mourinho on how to deal with 'disaster' of living in Manchester

Phil Blanche

Published 26/10/2016 | 18:31

Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters
Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

Jose Mourinho needs to strike a better work-life balance to make the most of his time at Manchester United, according to a leading workplace sports psychologist.

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United manager Mourinho is finding it difficult to adjust to living away from his family for the first time and has described his current arrangement as "a disaster".

The 53-year-old Portuguese has been staying at the Lowry Hotel in the centre of Manchester since starting work at Old Trafford in July, with his wife and two children residing in the family's London home.

Mourinho said he did not know if he would buy a house in the north-west with his children - 19-year-old daughter Matilde and 16-year-old son Jose Jr - settled in London.

But psychologist Cary Cooper says the lack of a support network is not conducive to executives having a life of fulfilment.

"This is a problem in senior management whether it is the public sector, private sector or in football," said Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School.

"Leaders in business and football are isolated because people are intimidated by their seniority and celebrity and that's why they do not open up.

"It's a lonely place at the top for CEOs (chief executive officers) - which is in effect what football managers are - and they need that support network around them.

"That's why organisations often bring in life coaches who can talk to them and act as counsellors."

Mourinho complained that being followed by photographers is not helping his current situation.

He described it as "a disaster" as it prevented him from going for a walk or to a restaurant.

"It's worse for a manager in the Premier League than a business leader," Cooper said.

"You almost don't have a private life, because if you walk around or go to a restaurant then people will look at you and talk about you.

"Everyone thinks those guys want attention, but they are human beings as well and need private time for their family and themselves.

"People will say that they earn mega-bucks and will have little sympathy for them. So, apart from fans of Manchester United and Chelsea, he's not very popular and he's going to have the mickey taken out of him."

But Cooper does not put United's recent struggles on the field down to Mourinho's unhappiness off it.

"There are probably six clubs who can win the Premier League and the managers of these clubs will also have some issues," Cooper said.

"But these issues are not there when a manager talks tactics or motivates players.

"Part of Mourinho needs to exude self-confidence for his players and the club to see. That is part of his facade.

"But most players will identify with what Mourinho is saying as many of them are away from their own country and extended family themselves.

"If he was saying his personal life was a disaster it would be different but he is talking about his own (domestic) arrangements and players will know what that is like.

"It is probably good that people see Mourinho open up like this as it makes him more human, but what he really needs is to see his family as much as possible because that will benefit him in the workplace."

Press Association

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