Saturday 19 October 2019

John Giles: Jose Mourinho damns himself with his rants

Read John Giles every week in The Herald

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty

John Giles

IT’S all about progress. No football club can flourish without it and Jose Mourinho is failing in that fundamental pursuit.

That’s why he is blaming everybody else. He is not doing his job well.

His latest rant points to nothing else. In it, he lashed players, individually and collectively and by doing so, damned himself. It’s his job to improve them and quite clearly, they are moving in the opposite direction.

Each point he made in his attack on Luke Shaw and other unnamed players who he now believes do not have the “personality” to play for Manchester United, has a ready made answer and one which Mourinho cannot deny.

Across town in the Etihad, Pep Guardiola has improved all his players. He spent big money to get the men he wanted but look at Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, two old stagers for Manchester City, both playing as well as ever.

A few summers back when Guardiola landed in Manchester, all the talk was about Aguero’s ability to fit in with his new manager’s vision. Most felt he could not and would leave.

Nobody is talking about that now. Kompany has been held back by injury and poor form but Guardiola stood by him and is reaping a rich reward.

Take Fernandinho, who looked like a limited enough player under previous City managers but has been really good all season long or one of Guardiola’s imports, Bernardo Silva, who is in the form of his life.

Across the squad, I could point to players in top form, enjoying their football and all of them so obviously on the same page as the manager.

That’s the job in any football team. Take what you’ve got and make them better individually and as a unit.

Can Mourinho honestly say that he has done that with Manchester United?

It is obvious that he has not and Paul Pogba is not the only example.

John Giles (inset) believes Paul Pogba's confidence has been dented in recent weeks

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and the unfortunate Luke Shaw seem to be going backwards.

I don’t know these lads so I don’t know whether they have the “personality” to handle big games at a big club like Manchester United but I know what I see on a football pitch and Mourinho’s decision to chop and change for the Champions League clash with Sevilla after beating Liverpool at Old Trafford had nothing to do with the players.

That was his call and it was the wrong decision.

The volume of his complaints and the range of targets within his clubhave increased to include everyone at Old Trafford apart from himself.

Just to summarise his gripes; the players aren’t mentally strong enough, he doesn’t have enough quality, the fans’ expectations are too high and the club needs to show more ambition.

All of this because he made a bad decision in a very important game and couldn’t handle the criticism.

He’s a bit of a baby, is Jose. It’s a huge flaw in his make-up and one which has had a disastrous impact on his career and increasingly so as the years go by.

I’ve said many, many times that he has a great knowledge of football and that I respect him as a coach but at each point when he deserves some sympathy, his truly appalling behaviour makes it impossible to take his side.

I accept that he inherited a group of players which needed a complete overhaul after three years of neglect and poor signings and that Pogba is not the player the hype and Mourinho told us he was.

But by taking a scattergun to his squad after beating Brighton simply because he just couldn’t take the criticism of the mistakes he made against Seville on the chin, Mourinho blew another hole in his own credibility.

His season now revolves around the FA Cup, holding onto the runners-up spot in the Premier League and trying to keep a lid on the Pogba saga.

None of these tasks will be easy and watching nervously in the background is Ed Woodward, who has handled the transition from the Alex Ferguson era very poorly indeed and has seen his trophy signing Pogba reduced to a confidence-drained shell.

My instinct tells me that this will end badly and probably during the coming summer.

Mourinho cannot help himself and his team is playing poorly which will, in turn, lead to more criticism.

I’ve read a lot in recent weeks about whether he is the right fit for the job. I’m not really sure what that means but I do know that the only true reckoning of a manager at any club comes on the football pitch.

I can’t honestly say that Mourinho has improved this group of players, with several expensive additions, in any appreciable way above what we saw during Louis van Gaal’s time.

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