Saturday 21 September 2019

Mark Lawrenson accuses Jose Mourinho of promoting 'football from the dark ages'

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ireland legend Mark Lawrenson has accused Jose Mourinho of promoting ‘football from the dark ages’ at Manchester United and suggested the tactics he deploys will not be accepted by the club’s fans for much longer.

Despite a defeat against Chelsea in last Saturday’s FA Cup final, Mourinho insisted he has made progress at United after guiding the club to a second-place finish in the Premier League.

Many of the club’s supporters would beg to differ with that version of events, with the dour football served up by Mourinho’s star-studded team this season in stark contrast to the thrilling attacking approach embraced by champions Manchester City and Champions League finalists Liverpool.

In an exclusive interview with, Paddy Power ambassador Lawrenson has suggested Mourinho’s approach to the game has been replaced by a more gung-ho attitude as he suggests his morbid mood is not helping his players.

“When I looked at the FA Cup final on Saturday and it was a little bit anti-football at times, football from the dark ages,” stated Lawrenson.

“We saw two teams set up not to lose and what we got was a predictable match that lacked the entertainment we have seen from Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League this season.

“Chelsea scored, sat back and defended. United were not capable of breaking them down and the mood of the two managers rubs off of the teams.

“Mourinho walks around like he has a permanent sharp stone in his shoe. He is miserable and I don’t understand why he needs to be like this.

“He has gone to a massive football club in Man United, they have given him all the money he could want and yet he just won’t players with egos and a bit of spark express themselves. I just don’t get it.

“Why would you sign Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford in your team if you are not going to let them play where they will be at their best? I just don’t get it.”

Lawrenson rejects the suggestion that the United players are not capable of performing at the highest level, as he suggests the finger of blame for their failure should be pointed directly at their manager.

“I think these players are good enough, but the manager seems worried to death about letting them off the leash,” he added. 

“Man City had the league won by Christmas, so why not inject a bit of joy into those United players, get them playing some good football and win some friends.

“Instead, he got grumpier by the week and it came to head with another poor performance in the FA Cup final.

“You look back at Mourinho’s first title winning team at Chelsea and might remember it as an exciting line-up with Damien Duff, Arjen Robben, Frank Lampard and some top quality players in there, but speak to the players and they will tell you different.

“I did something with Duffer a while back and he is convinced he played at left back for Chelsea, that is what he said to me. He was a winger who was not encouraged to run down the wing. Even then, Mourinho was trying to stop people playing and he will never change.

“Contrast that with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool . He has the attitude that he wants to play attacking football and if it doesn’t work out, there will always be another game in a few days time to try and put it right. There may be more risk attached, but he would rather play that way that grind out a 0-0 or a lucky 1-0 win.”

Mark Lawrenson is a Paddy Power ambassador. To read more, go to

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport