Comment - Jose Mourinho's public criticism of Manchester United chiefs could prelude his downfall in 2018
Jose Mourinho's internal battle with club Manchester United's hierarchy has been bubbling under the surface since what he believed was a disappointing summer transfer window, but he took a huge gamble when he chose to make his grievances public.
While Mourinho must have realised he would be ridiculed for suggested the near £300m he has spent on new players since his arrival at United in the summer of 2016 was not enough to challenge for the Premier League title, his comments have opened up a long-running internal battle that will make-or-break his reign as United manager.
When asked how he could argue he has not been given enough cash to spend despite signing players like Paul Pogba (£89m) and Romelu Lukaku (£75m), he had his answer waiting.
"It not enough, is not enough," he declared. "And the price for the big clubs, the price for the big clubs is different from the other clubs, so the big, historical clubs are normally punished in the market for that history.
"Manchester City buy full-backs for the price of the strikers, so when you speak about big football clubs, you are speaking about the history of the club."
Mourinhio's comments were preposterous given his spending habits since he arrived in Manchester in the summer of 2016, yet this was merely the culmination of simmering annoyance that stems from United's failure to sign Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic last summer.
The Perisic deal was in place if United wanted it, but the club refused to pay the £40m asking price for a player who will turn 29 in February and would have limited resale value.
That decision set alarm bells ringing for Mourinho and, he would argue, highlighted once again the inability of United's transfer guru Ed Woodward to get deals over the line.
Antoine Griezmann, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Toni Kross and Arturo Vidal are just some of the star names Woodward tried and failed to sign in his time as United's much-maligned deal maker, with questions over his abilities enduring since he succeeded the highly respected David Gill in the role in the summer of 2013.
In essence, Mourinho's rant last Tuesday was designed to prod Woodward and the club's owners into splashing the cash in the January transfer window and next summer, but his words may well have piled additional pressure on him as he looks to revive a flagging season in the first half of 2018.
Mourinho's hints that he may be tempted to take over at Paris Saint-Germain in an interview last month raised eyebrows aplenty, with those paying his wages at United unlikely to be have been impressed by his 'threats' to take his talents elsewhere.
The trouble is, Mourinho's menacing words designed to stir Woodwood into a spending spree would only have an impact if this decorated manager was showing real evidence that he can revive the glory days at Old Trafford.
While United have more points than they had at the same stage of last season, the enthusiasm for his reign - which was always tentative among a large chunk of the club's fans - has been waning at a rapid rate this season.
Manchester City's brilliance has been shining a glaring spotlight on United's relative mediocrity this season, with their abject display in defeat against Pep Guardiola's side at Old Trafford leaving a scar on his reputation that may not be healed.
Woodward and the United owners would have every right to tell Mourinho to get his team playing the kind of sumptuous football Manchester City are serving up on a weekly basis and then they will hand him the financial backing he craves.
Promoting such exuberance has never going to be Mourinho's way and after his snipes at Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool's signing of Virgil van Dijk in his latest media appearance, we can ponder whether this maverick create enough mischief on and off the field in the first half of 2018 to ensure his presence at United is no longer needed.
Mourinho has never been a good loser and if he stays around at Manchester United for another year, he will have to get used to that unplaetable diet.
This serial winner will not want to hang around for too long if he feels he is fighting a losing battle.