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Sunday 4 December 2016

Sports psychologist claims better work-life balance would benefit Jose Mourinho

Published 26/10/2016 | 08:11

Jose Mourinho has accused the media of writing lies
Jose Mourinho has accused the media of writing lies

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 Sir 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."

Mourinho apologised for the loss at Chelsea in the programme for tonight's EFL Cup match against Manchester City.

He wrote: "As the leader of this squad I want to start by saying sorry to all the Manchester United fans around the world. Sunday's 4-0 defeat at Chelsea was not a United result; it was a result that has made us all extremely sorry for all our supporters and we apologise for it.

"Once again at Stamford Bridge our fans were sensational. I cannot think of another set of supporters who would be singing for 90 minutes like that when their team was losing. They were a credit to the club and I feel so sorry for them that the result could not match their performance.

"Even in the best periods of the club's history there have been heavy defeats - I have beaten United 3-0 as a manager and 3-1 twice - but we all know that we cannot accept result like the one we had on Sunday. There is only one way I know to react to this kind of result and that is with hard work.

"Tonight we play against another top team as we welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford. I can say for sure that they are also unhappy with their current situation, having suffered their own 4-0 defeat in Barcelona a week ago and coming into tonight's game without a win in five games, but that does not change the fact that they are a very good team with a very good manager and very good, experienced players.

"We have our problems and the biggest one of all is that Eric Bailly suffered an injury at Chelsea which will force him to miss many matches. Eric has started his first season at United very well indeed and it is a real shame for him and for us that he will now be on the sidelines. The same applies to Phil Jones, who is in the same situation.

"But while it is sad news for Eric, we have a big match tonight which has to demand our full focus. Cup matches are great, they always guarantee a super atmosphere and I know that will especially be the case against our city rivals tonight.

"I will be there with you all on the touchline and together we will all support and push our players to give the 101 per cent effort required in this kind of match."

Press Association

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