Mour­inho: There is a ‘man­hunt’ against me

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By James Ducker NORTH­ERN FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT at Old Traf­ford

Jose Mour­inho has claimed there is a “man­hunt” against him and his Manch­ester United team that some play­ers are strug­gling to cope with and which he does not be­lieve even a sharp up­turn in re­sults will be enough to stop.

Manch­ester United pro­duced an ex­tra­or­di­nary late fight­back against New­cas­tle United at Old Traf­ford last night by com­ing from two goals down to claim a pre­cious 3-2 vic­tory.

A dra­matic 90th-minute win­ner from Alexis Sanchez, whose strug­gles since his Jan­uary move from Arsenal have been symp­to­matic of the cri­sis that has gripped the club, ended a four-match win­less streak and eased some of the im­me­di­ate pres­sure on Mour­inho.

The Manch­ester United man­ager had wo­ken to re­ports stat­ing he would be sacked re­gard­less of the out­come of the game.

Hav­ing re­vealed that he was re­as­sured in a text mes­sage from ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man Ed Wood­ward to ig­nore those claims, and stressed that he not held the club at gun­point when they handed him a new con­tract in Jan­uary, Mour­inho went on the of­fen­sive by con­demn­ing a per­ceived “man­hunt” against him and his side.

“The fans that read the pa­pers, that are con­nected with so­cial me­dia, they thought maybe I had gone,” Mour­inho said of the sack claims. “If I hadn’t had an SMS from my board not to read, I would have been con­vinced too.

“They gave me [a] con­tract un­til July 2020. I have a con­tract to 2020, I didn’t point a pis­tol at them. They give me the con­tract be­cause they wanted to give it [to] me.

“If you look to his­tory of AC Mi­lan, you don’t think it is nor­mal that they are where they are [now]. In the

big­gest clubs in the world, there are pe­ri­ods with a lot of meat and pe­ri­ods with a lot of bones.”

Mour­inho claimed that the “man­hunt­ing” was tak­ing its toll on cer­tain play­ers and cited Scott McTom­i­nay and Mar­cus Rash­ford, who were both sub­sti­tuted, as two young­sters who were be­ing par­tic­u­larly af­fected.

“We started ner­vously, the team in my opin­ion didn’t cope well with the pres­sure of the man-hunt­ing,” he said. “I am 55 years old. It is the first time I see man-hunt­ing. I can cope with it. I can live with it. Some of the boys, in spite of them not be­ing the man that is hunted, they are not cop­ing with it.

“The way we started the game, they were pan­ick­ing. Ev­ery ball into the box, even in some mo­ments I thought we could score in our own goal.

“Rash­ford was sad, McTom­i­nay was scared on the pitch. It is not easy for them. For me it is not easy, too, but I think life is made of ex­pe­ri­ences. Some are new and some are deja vu.

“This is new, it makes me not just a bet­ter man­ager but a bet­ter per­son. I un­der­stand things in the hu­man na­ture nowa­days and in the in­dus­try where I work, I used to love it, I still love it, but it is dif­fer­ent.

“There is too much wicked­ness in some­thing that should be beau­ti­ful. I cope with it, with some sad­ness. I am a big boy and I will deal with it.”

Asked whether it would take a run of vic­to­ries for the “man­hunt” to stop, Mour­inho replied: “I don’t think so. I go to Lon­don tonight – if it rains in Lon­don to­mor­row, it’s my fault. If there is a prob­lem with Brexit, it’s my fault.”

For­mer United mid­fielder Paul Sc­holes sug­gested that Mour­inho may

have in­ad­ver­tently made life harder for McTom­i­nay and Rash­ford with his re­marks.

“The man­ager is al­ways go­ing to get stick when the club’s strug­gling,” he said. “When you’re at a big club you’re go­ing to be un­der scru­tiny.

“He’s showed us that he can take the pres­sure but I don’t re­ally like what he said about Rash­ford and McTom­i­nay. I don’t think the play­ers will be happy with that, that should have been said be­hind closed doors.”

Mour­inho ex­pressed hope that Sanchez’s first goal of the sea­son would prove a turn­ing point for the Chile striker. “He’s a good boy, a good pro, he works re­ally hard, he is not play­ing es­pe­cially well in cer­tain pe­ri­ods, also when the team doesn’t play well it is dif­fi­cult for play­ers to per­form but to­day is an amaz­ing feel­ing for him to score a win­ning goal. It is a very nice come­back,” the man­ager said.

United fans took aim at the United hi­er­ar­chy – whom Gary Neville had ac­cused of be­ing “rot­ten to the core” – by singing “Jose’s right, the board are s----”. Mour­inho made a point of sin­gling out the fans for the way they stood by the team de­spite trail­ing to goals from Kenedy and Yoshi­nori Muto be­fore Juan Mata and An­thony Mar­tial drew the home side level and Sanchez got the win­ner.

“I’m amazed by that,” he said. “I don’t want that, if I could tell them ‘please don’t do it’ I would say that. I think this is not about me it’s about the foot­ball club, the club they love and about the club we rep­re­sent with all the hon­our and dig­nity, but I was amazed by that at half-time.

“We were los­ing 2-0 and the fans were mag­nif­i­cent to the team and that’s fan­tas­tic. I used to say in my foot­ball mem­o­ries that one day I beat Liver­pool at An­field 4-0 and I was amazed that the sta­dium was singing Liver­pool songs. I was amazed and full of re­spect af­ter that.

“I’m los­ing 2-0 at home in a match that was very im­por­tant for us to win and the fans were ab­so­lutely amaz­ing, I’m re­ally grate­ful for that and my hap­pi­ness is not be­cause of my­self, it is be­cause of the fans and the play­ers. They can go to the na­tional team with a good feel­ing and the fans can go home with a feel­ing of vic­tory.”

Un­der pres­sure: Jose Mour­inho says the United board of­fered re­as­sur­ance about his job via a text mes­sage

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