Mourinho careful to keep United on edge by whipping up a storm
Manager faces questions over his state of mind on his return to Chelsea, writes Stuart Mathieson
at press conferences since being appointed in the summer of last year.
The Manchester press pack were promised an engaging personality by their London colleagues, who had often been entertained in their weekly sit-downs with Mourinho. Save for one or two asides, it has rarely been so congenial this season. Nobody expected a stand-up comedian but Mourinho’s conferences have largely been subdued.
He relaxed a touch in the second half of last season as victories in the EFL Cup and Europa League made it a successful campaign for United. But he has sunk back into pouting mode this season despite a start in which his side’s free-scoring form recalled the halcyon days of the Ferguson era, with Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera, have been reprimanded in public.
Of late, that has led to suggestions that Mourinho is heading towards an abrupt meltdown at Old Trafford, with some citing a track record in which he has not stayed as manager at any club for more than three years.
Mourinho insisted his morose manner does not evidence any great drama. Asked if he is frustrated, he replied, “No. Just a difficult week. Big matches, injuries, tired … just normal.”
There is concern among fans that he has suddenly become unsettled at Old Trafford. So, is he happy at the club? “Yes. I love my players. You try to create a history [story] because of my words after Huddersfield but there is no history about it. I don’t know where you get this kind of stories, but yes I am happy.”
Juan Mata was with Mourinho at Stamford Bridge before the coach discarded the two-time Chelsea player of the year, selling him to United in January 2014.
The Spaniard knows Mourinho’s methods intimately and has been the victim of some of his more controversial ways, but the midfielder insists his outburst after the Huddersfield game - United’s only defeat this season - is nothing to get unduly concerned about.
“I have seen it a few times when he has been very angry,” Mata said. “It was one of those days. He just hates to lose and every time his team does lose, he gets angry – that’s normal.”
This is what you get with Jose Mourinho. Turbulence and tranquility in equal measure. It is the price you pay for a CV that boasts 25 trophies.
As the United manager returns to the club with whom he won eight of those pieces of silverware, he says he is just one more from earning his due recognition.
“I think that probably 25 trophies is the line that people made about a successful manager,” he said. “I have 25 but I still need one more. So maybe when I win one more trophy I have a little bit of credit, but that’s not a problem.”
Whether that landmark will be reached with Manchester United remains to be seen.