Mourinho: There is a ‘manhunt’ against me
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