Jose Mourinho offered some interesting observations during his two-game stint as a pundit on BeIN Sports, but his advice to Arsenal manager Unai Emery that Mesut Ozil “needs a little bit of care and a little bit of love” to perform at his best was the one which would have had everyone at Manchester United rolling their eyes.
Self-awareness has never been one of Mourinho strong points, but telling a rival manager that he needs be more aware of a player’s feelings appears to be a classic case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling and several other United players would argue that Mourinho did not heed his own advice when dealing with the differing personalities in the Old Trafford dressing room. Rather than offer care and love, Mourinho took abrasiveness to a new level in criticising his players openly and his final months in charge of United were full of negativity and acrimony. Yet the remarks about Ozil were only one element of an insight into precisely why Mourinho failed at United and why he must change his ways if he is ever to return to the top table of management again.
The main thing that came across from his appearances as a pundit in the Middle East was how much he is looking to the past, rather than the future. Mourinho’s track record is great — winning league titles in four different European countries, two Champions Leagues, UEFA Cup/Europa League success, and countless domestic cups in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain — but to continue to be successful, a coach must move with the times.
Sir Alex Ferguson lasted so long at United because he was always prepared to embrace new ideas, find new coaches and, crucially, face forward. Yet all Mourinho could do was look backwards. He claimed that the term “parking the bus” was only coined “when I was champions with Real Madrid with 100 points and 106 goals.” He insisted that Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp are only having so much success because they have had the full support of their clubs — overlooking the fact that he spent just short of £400m on new players during five transfer windows at United.
He then hit out at what he perceived to be double standards in terms of how the pair were viewed in comparison to him. “When Mourinho behaves bad on the touchline, when Mourinho kicks a bottle, when Mourinho does this, when Mourinho does that, he’s out, he’s suspended, he’s paying for this,” he said. “When Jurgen [Klopp] does, he’s special. When Pep [Guardiola] does, he’s special. When Mourinho does, he’s out.” He even had time to take a swipe at Mauricio Pochettino’s failure to win any trophies at Tottenham, before spending a long period discussing his own successes at Chelsea back in 2004-07.
Like his tactics at United, Mourinho always seems to be on the defensive or making not-so-subtle comments that hint at his dissatisfaction about his time at Old Trafford, from referring to his “amazing” CEO at Chelsea in Peter Kenyon — there were no words of praise for Ed Woodward — or suggesting that the “structure” at United was not up to standard.
Then there was the claim that “the manager is not there to keep the discipline at any cost,” having cited Ferguson’s mantra that no player can ever be allowed to think he is bigger than the club just moments earlier. Ferguson would never have allowed player discipline to be controlled by anybody but him, the manager, at Old Trafford; incredibly, Mourinho suggested that it should not be the manager’s responsibility. He took the strongman approach to ruling United but after it didn’t work and everything fell apart, he is now absolving himself of any blame.
You may have already noticed but that is the running theme of Mourinho’s comments on BeIN and it points to everyone else being at fault. Yet the seven-game winning run United have embarked upon since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced him as caretaker manager last month suggests a different story.
The players and staff at United had become so demotivated and downcast under Mourinho that every area of the club began to suffer. Mourinho was identifying problems everywhere, but could not, or would not, see the biggest one of all. Himself.
If Mourinho ever decides to play back the tape of his two appearances in the BeIN studio, he might just realise how hollow many of his claims sound. With almost every observation, he showed just how out of date he is and, ultimately, why he is out of a job at United.