Mourinho stays Agent says United will not sack coach
Club sanction public backing for manager Team face Fulham lying 18 points behind leaders
Jose Mourinho has been granted his wish of a formal assurance from Manchester United that his job is safe, with the club giving their blessing to a rare public statement from his all-powerful agent, Jorge Mendes, that there is no current prospect of a change at Old Trafford.
The United manager goes into today’s game at Fulham with just three points from his past four league games and the club eighth in the table, 18 points behind leaders Manchester City. Once again, he has experienced frustrations with gaining the public support of his club, as was the case three years ago at Chelsea.
United have been reluctant to make public pronouncements, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward of the belief that private assurances are sufficient. The club are of the view that they do not have to respond to the current pessimism around Mourinho and his prospects at United and any public support would be viewed as the traditional vote of confidence, which is so often a prelude to a sacking.
Mourinho sees things differently and has, in the past, insisted on statements in support of his position, including in his second spell at Chelsea when, after defeat by Southampton on Oct 3 2015 – the club’s fourth defeat in their opening eight league games – he was given the board’s public backing.
He was sacked 10 weeks later when the club lost to Leicester City, their ninth defeat of the season.
On this occasion the statement was released by Mendes, a rare move from one of the most powerful men in world football, who rarely gives interviews about his clients or his brokering of major transfer deals.
The representative, via his management company Gestifute, which handles Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea and Diego Costa, and who also has a key involvement at clubs including Wolverhampton Wanderers and Atletico Madrid, issued the statement having spoken to Woodward first on the issue.
Mendes said: “There have been more rumours of Jose Mourinho leaving Manchester United. It’s totally untrue. Jose is very happy at the club and the club is very happy with him. He has a long-term contract with Manchester United and is fully committed to the club in building a solid, winning project.”
In January, Mourinho signed a contract extension until 2020, although United’s fortunes have taken a major dip since then. The visit of bottom-placed Fulham comes at a time when it is impossible to second-guess Mourinho’s changeable team selection and there are strong suggestions that he described Paul Pogba, the club’s most expensive signing, as “a virus” after the draw with Southampton last weekend.
Mourinho is understood to have been most upset at detailed reports in The Sun yesterday which said that Woodward was now convinced that Mauricio Pochettino was the right man for the job and was prepared to pay heavily to recruit him from Tottenham Hotspur. It was reported that Mourinho’s severance terms would be less onerous for United this summer if the club did not qualify for the Champions League, although no parties are willing to confirm.
Anger at what he perceives as the inertness of club hierarchies have been a feature of Mourinho’s past two jobs, at Chelsea and United. As he struggled to reverse the decline of his 2015 title-winning team at Chelsea, he asked for owner Roman Abramovich to address the squad, although that request was never agreed to, until after Mourinho had left.
Raising a smile: Jose Mourinho (above), Paul Pogba (left) and Romelu Lukaku pose with fans as part of a Dream Day run by the club’s foundation at the AON Training Complex