Monday 25 March 2019

Jose Mourinho facing 'growing disillusionment' in dressing room as Man United players begin to question methods

Jose Mourinho attempts to get his message across to Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images
Jose Mourinho attempts to get his message across to Paul Pogba. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

Jose Mourinho is battling growing disillusionment in the Manchester United dressing room about his methods, at a time when the club's hierarchy are making moves to help smooth the disconnect between the manager and board with the appointment of a technical director.

The United manager's relationship with the likes of Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba - both of whom would leave Old Trafford if there was an exit route - has been severely strained for some time, and there are others in the dressing room who have tired of Mourinho's approach on and off the field.

Mourinho still has players in the squad who are willing to pull for him, but Pogba's criticism of the team's "attitude" in the wake of Sunday's wretched 3-2 defeat at Brighton is understood to hint at a deeper malaise that has taken hold, amid fears the problem could worsen unless there is a drastic improvement in mood and morale.

Pogba, who has been made captain in what some have viewed as an attempt by Mourinho to get the player back on side as he eyes a move to Spain, has already admitted he cannot express his true feelings for fear of being fined.

The sense of gloom is shared by staff at the club, some of whom have been left exhausted by Mourinho's generally dour demeanour and frequent mood swings and long for a more upbeat, positive attitude.

Despite obvious deficiencies in the squad, there remains a belief in various quarters of the club that United still boast an abundance of talented players and should at least be capable of making a credible challenge for the title.

But Mourinho's claims that United - who face Tottenham at Old Trafford on Monday - are set for a "difficult" season after he failed to acquire the signings he wanted in the summer transfer window have served only to alienate people, erode confidence and dampen belief.

Publicly, at least, Mourinho retains the backing of the United hierarchy and Ed Woodward - the club's executive vice-chairman, who has already presided over the sackings of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal - craves some stability.

United have made moves to overhaul the scouting and recruitment operations, in addition to improving facilities, over the past few years after accepting they were outdated, and that restructuring seems likely to extend to the appointment of a technical director.

What impact that would have in the shorter-term is unclear, but it is felt it could help provide more of a bridge between the manager and board, notably Woodward, in a bid for more long-term joined-up thinking.

Whether a technical director would be given the power to drive recruitment remains to be seen, but he could provide a daily point of contact for the manager as well as more 'football expertise' at the top end of the club, even if Woodward is unlikely to cede too much power. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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