IS MOU NOW ON HIS OWN?

Inside the trou­bled world of Jose Mour­inho his be­hav­iour has up­set peo­ple at Man United and they’re not used to it. Is the Por­tuguese ace los­ing it?

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International - CHRIS WHEELER

N ovem­ber 2015 and Jose Mour­inho was in melt­down. The cracks were show­ing in his trou­bled regime at Chelsea and he had been pun­ished by the FA for rant­ing at ref­eree Jon Moss dur­ing a game against West Ham.

The fol­low­ing month, Mour­inho turned on his play­ers by ac­cus­ing them of ‘be­tray­ing my work’ af­ter an­other de­feat by Le­ices­ter City. Three days later he was gone.

It has be­come a fa­mil­iar story in the ca­reer of the Por­tuguese coach. Short stays av­er­ag­ing three years, usu­ally end­ing with an un­tidy exit soured by ran­cour and re­crim­i­na­tion.

Now there is a dif­fer­ence, how­ever. Mour­inho ap­pears to be reach­ing this point af­ter just six months at Manch­ester United.

Iron­i­cally, Moss was again the tar­get of his anger in an­other game against West Ham at Old Traf­ford on Sun­day. Mour­inho was dis­missed from the touch­line for the sec­ond time in six games and now faces his third FA charge in a month.

His bond with the play­ers which broke down so spec­tac­u­larly in his sec­ond spell at Chelsea a year ago is al­ready show­ing signs of fa­tigue at United. Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan and An­thony Mar­tial are among those sin­gled out in pub­lic, and there are clearly is­sues to be re­solved.

Shaw and Mar­tial did not even make the bench for the 1-1 draw with West Ham even though it is un­der­stood both were fit and avail­able. Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, on the other hand, was among the sub­sti­tutes hav­ing been ban­ished to train with the kids for much of Mour­inho’s time at the club.

It adds weight to the ar­gu­ment that Mour­inho still does not know his best team a third of the way through the sea­son, with United 11 points be­hind lead­ers Chelsea af­ter their worst start to a league cam­paign for 27 years.

He has two points fewer than David Moyes and Louis van Gaal at the same stage of their first sea­sons at Old Traf­ford. Both men were sacked af­ter fail­ing to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League and United are cur­rently eight points adrift of the top four.

A man of Mour­inho’s ex­pe­ri­ence should be ex­pected to pro­vide calm lead­er­ship in this sit­u­a­tion. In­stead, the ex­as­per­ated coach is kick­ing wa­ter bot­tles and do­ing an­other en­forced dis­ap­pear­ing act from the dugout as his once mer­cu­rial pow­ers have lit­tle ef­fect.

Just how he has reached this point so early in his ten­ure is not easy to fathom. There is lit­tle doubt, though, that Mour­inho’s mind is trou­bled right now.

“There’s a fine line be­tween mad­ness and ge­nius,” one club source told Sports­mail. “Peo­ple re­act dif­fer­ently to pres­sure and he’s ob­ses­sive about win­ning. Ev­ery­one thinks he can live up to his rep­u­ta­tion as the Special One but the pres­sure he is putting him­self un­der needs a re­lease. Af­ter all, it’s just kick­ing a wa­ter bot­tle. But there’s no doubt it’s up­set the ap­ple­cart be­cause he courts con­tro­versy in a way oth­ers haven’t here. It up­sets peo­ple at the club be­cause they’re not used to it.”

Peo­ple at United’s train­ing ground talk about an ob­ses­sive man to­tally ab­sorbed by his prob­lems who will “smile at you one minute and blank you the next”.

Some de­scribe Mour­inho as hav­ing a split per­son­al­ity and ap­pear­ing to be at odds with him­self. Play­ers and staff not in­volved with the first team are prac­ti­cally ig­nored, with his as­sis­tant Rui Faria left to keep up morale.

There have been sto­ries of Mour­inho dis­tanc­ing him­self from the play­ers in train­ing or us­ing a side en­trance at Car­ring­ton to avoid min­gling with them in the can­teen. Cer­tainly, he feels that

some of them are not tak­ing enough re­spon­si­bil­ity for turn­ing things around, pri­vately ques­tion­ing the tem­per­a­ment as well as the qual­ity of the squad.

It is just one as­pect of the set-up he in­her­ited that Mour­inho be­lieves falls short of what is re­quired. ‘The cul­ture is not what he ex­pected of a big club,’ said a source close to him. That much was clear on United’s pre-sea­son tour of China when he was un­happy with the poor train­ing fa­cil­i­ties and sheer weight of com­mer­cial de­mands on his time.

Mour­inho seems to have been in an al­most per­ma­nent sulk since then. There has been very lit­tle hu­mour about the man, not even the mo­ments of mis­chief that used to light up his me­dia ap­pear­ances at Chelsea.

Mour­inho is irked by sug­ges­tions that liv­ing per­ma­nently in a suite at the Lowry Ho­tel is to blame for his mood.

Take the fam­ily away from the self-con­fessed fam­ily man, how­ever, and it is bound to have an ef­fect — es­pe­cially when ri­val Pep Guardi­ola at Manch­ester City is set­tled in an apart­ment with his wife and their three chil­dren lit­er­ally down the road.

Mour­inho’s wife, Matilde, and their daugh­ter, also Matilde, are said to be in­sep­a­ra­ble, so the sit­u­a­tion is un­likely to change while the lat­ter stays in Lon­don to pur­sue a ca­reer in fash­ion. For now, he is on his own.

REUTERS

Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho kicks a wa­ter bot­tle in the Premier League match against West Ham United .

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