Jose fight­ing a long war

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

HIS­TORY could be re­peat­ing it­self for Jose Mour­inho (pix) - with the Fast For­ward but­ton pressed. Third sea­son syn­drome has al­ready been di­ag­nosed as things seem to be fall­ing apart even be­fore there’s any sign they might come to­gether in the first two.

And this week he has widened the blame for Manch­ester United’s poor start to en­com­pass every­one but him­self. First it was the play­ers, then the med­i­cal staff and now it’s the club it­self! It raises the ques­tion: is he re­ally there for the long haul or is he al­ready mak­ing his ex­cuses?

As ever with the one-time Spe­cial One-but-still-Cun­ning One, there are mixed mes­sages: he says his life is a dis­as­ter as he’s liv­ing out of a suit­case yet in­sists it is his dream job and wants to leave a legacy.

Make of it what you will but he is still the story even though he’s bot­tom of the class of star man­agers by which­ever yard­stick their first few months in charge are as­sessed.

When the mi­nor ail­ments of Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling hog the head­lines, we know it must be an in­ter­na­tional break. And we know there must be more to it than an al­leged lack of bot­tle on their part.

Of course there is: just 11 league games into a new sea­son their man­ager is ques­tion­ing their com­mit­ment, as he has other mem­bers of his squad, along with the com­pe­tence of the med­i­cal staff and his pre­de­ces­sors. Whis­per it softly, but this could even in­clude the reign of Alex Fer­gu­son.

Ac­cord­ing to the BBC, “Mour­inho is in­ves­ti­gat­ing all as­pects of first-team af­fairs after be­ing dis­mayed at the cul­ture he has in­her­ited at the club.” It is un­der­stood they in­clude “travel, pre-sea­son tour plan­ning, fit­ness, sports sci­ence and the gen­eral make-up of his squad.”

Nei­ther David Moyes, who didn’t last a year, nor Louis van Gaal, who stag­gered through two, un­der­took the kind of root and branch re­view that Mour­inho has ini­ti­ated.

So it could well be that the Por­tuguese is not happy with as­pects of the an­cien regime of Lord Ferg where not all was sci­en­tific and a great deal based on pure in­stinct and foot­ball nous.

Fit­ness and prepa­ra­tion ap­pear to be the main bones of con­tention but the clumsy way cer­tain play­ers have been sin­gled out as wimps, oth­ers have been os­tracised and some ex­on­er­ated has not done much for team spirit. In­deed, they fol­low a fa­mil­iar ‘di­vide and rule’ pat­tern em­ployed in his third sea­sons at Real Madrid and Chelsea. We all know how they ended.

A cynic might say he’s look­ing for a way out and point to the change in his de­meanour, his fail­ure to buy a house and the dis­rup­tion to his fam­ily as signs he’s pre­par­ing his exit strat­egy.

He has cer­tainly mor­phed into the Un­happy One but that could also be be­cause he’s found the challenge much tougher and it is likely to take longer to turn things around.

In­deed, that he’s de­cided there’ll be no more pussy-foot­ing and to go for broke in­di­cates he will be stick­ing around. He is for­tu­nate that his two pre­de­ces­sors failed so abysmally that the club, the brand, the multi-na­tional busi­ness or what­ever you want to call it, can­not risk a third sack­ing in four years since Fergie re­tired.

That would cause a sell-off on Wall Street so if it comes to a choice be­tween him and the play­ers, it is the play­ers who

Chris Smalling (left) and Luke Shaw

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.