Tuesday 25 July 2017

Why Jose Mourinho needs to change his ways before it's too late

Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for kicking a water bottle
Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for kicking a water bottle
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Another round of Premier League fixtures have been played out and not for the first time, the dubious behaviour of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho dominates the headlines.

CHANGE THE RECORD JOSE

It’s about time Jose Mourinho started focusing on football rather than massaging his own desperately bruised ego at Manchester United.

As match officials sent him to the stands for the second time in his brief and increasingly agonised tenure as United manager, the change in mood towards a tactician who has long since lost his novelty factor was displayed once again.

This is not all about you any more Jose and it is about time you worked that out.

Mourinho may have been a bigger than the club he was managing during his two spells in charge of Chelsea, but his abrasive personality will never dwarf the giant of a football club he has been entrusted with now and he needs to appreciate that he is letting United down with his antics.

Of course, we are not surprised in the slightest by the behaviour of a manager who has always gone about his business with the harsh, abrasive edge that was once viewed by the UK media as a great sideshow well worth reporting on.

However, it has long since become tiresome.

A run of four home draws in the Premier League may well have ended United’s hopes of challenging for the title this season, with Sunday’s 1-1 stalemate against West Ham pushing Mourinho to breaking point once more and yet this cannot continue.

This firebrand of a manager may have convinced sceptical figures in the United hierarchy that he could change his ways, but the heat of battle brings out an ugly streak in Mourinho that he simply cannot suppress.

An inner demon is eager to get out every time this manager stands on a touchline and he simply cannot shed is prejudices against certain match officials he despises and what he perceives to be injustice against him.

So on a Sunday afternoon when he was reunited with one of his least favourite referees in Jonathan Moss, it didn’t take long for Mourinho to snap.

Kicking a bottle in frustration when Paul Pogba was booking for diving - correctly as video replays confirmed - was probably not worthy of another spell in the stands, but the jury is quick to pass judgement when you are a serial offender and once again, Mourinho had stolen the headlines for himself.

His United team is playing some decent football at the moment and with more of a cutting edge, they could be turning draws into wins, yet all the positives are being overshadowed by the antics of a manager whose childlike petulance is an unshakable part of his make-up.

United are now 11 points off the Premier League lead being set by the Chelsea team Mourinho could not control last season and as he braces himself for another touchline ban, the Premier League audience prepares for another collective episode of eye rolling.

The Jose Mourinho show featuring a snarling, angry manager claiming the world is against him does not fit too well at a club with the proud traditions of Manchester United and while it is not too late for him to change the script, you suspect his personality will not allow any such shift in approach.

WHAT’S GONE WRONG AT TOTTENHAM?

“The first thing I needed to try and change at Tottenham was the attitude that they were not good enough, that they would always come up short. I think I did that with two top four finishes in three years, but that issue is still there at Spurs.”

The words of ex-Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp as he reflected on the attitude he found when he took over at a club notable for coming up short against the Premier League’s big-hitters is still relevant now and after Saturday’s defeat at Chelsea, Mauricio Pochettino is facing his most challenging period as the club’s manager.

The delayed hangover of last season’s ultimately disappointing title challenge may now be kicking in, with a club that has not won England’s league title in 55 years still struggling to believe it should be considered among the teams with realistic hopes of being crowned as champions.

Throw in their miserable exit from the Champions League after just five games in a relatively weak group and it adds up to narrative that is all too familiar to Tottenham supporters.

Pochettino’s side were magnificent to behold for the first 44 minutes of their latest clash against local rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, but their belief drained instantly once they conceded an equaliser and the threat of failure floated their way once more. Spurs still haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since a Gary Lineker winner back in 1990. What a shocking statistic that is.

‘To Dare Is To Do’ is the slogan Spurs use to promote their club and yet their players still seen scared to embrace such an ideal.

 

CONTE’S MAGIC BRUSH

Antonio Conte appeared to face the biggest task of all the newly installed Premier League manager when he took over at Chelsea last summer, but the Italian has proved himself to be a master in his first few months at Stamford Bridge.

Getting to grips with the demands of the English game and winning over a dressing room that has characters who have proved that they will only play at their peak when the mood suits them was a big challenge, but he has got his team to the top of the table after 13 rounds of matches and their status as title contenders has been restored.

Chelsea are not the finished article, far from it. In fact, they looked decided second rate in the opening half against Tottenham on Saturday and often struggle to piece together complete 90 minute performances, but this is still a team and a manager finding their way.

Their game away at Manchester City next weekend represents a huge test of their title credentials, but Conte has already achieved his first big aim in his latest posting.

Winning became a habit Chelsea struggled to get addicted to for most of last season, but they have the smell of success in their nostrils once again now.

 

COUTINHO’S INJURY IS A GAME CHANGER

Liverpool fans had every right to gasp in horror as their Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho was carted off on a stretcher during Saturday’s Premier League win against Sunderland.

While Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has plenty of attacking options to fall back on in his impressive squad, Coutinho offers an X Factor that few can match and of all the players he would not want to lose, his No.10 would be near the top of the list.

At least Liverpool found a way to win a game they may well have drawn or even lost against defensive minded Sunderland, but we wait to discover at what cost.

 

INDEPENDENT.IE TEAM OF THE WEEK

Darren Randolph (West Ham)

Victor Moses (Chelsea)

Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion)

Virgil van Djik (Southampton)

James Milner (Liverpool)

Fernando (Man City)

Leroy Fer (Swansea)

Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke)

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Sergio Aguero (Man City)

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