Jose Mourinho appeared emotional after his Manchester United squad was thrashed by Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on Monday. The 55-year-old manager lingered on the field, applauding fans who had remained in the Old Trafford stands until the final whistle. Then he left the field for what some believe will be the final time.
Mourinho arrived at Manchester United in May of 2016 proclaiming it to have long been his dream job. In that time he has won three trophies, but has yet to take the Red Devils to the top of the Premier League. Meanwhile, the club’s rival, Manchester City, has built a juggernaut that might be Europe’s best team.
While Mourinho hasn’t achieve his goals, he hasn’t been unsuccessful. He holds a match record of 75-23-25 since arriving. He guided Man U to a disappointing sixth-place finish in his first season but the club managed to win the EFL Cup, Community Shield and Europa League. Last season, Mourinho guided his squad to a second place finish in the Premier League, a runner-up result in the FA Cup and the Champions League Round of 16. None of that is what United fans want, but to say he hasn’t enjoyed success is just flat-out wrong.
Mourinho and company have opened this season headed in the wrong direction. They have one win and two embarrassing losses during which they have looked awful. The Portuguese coach is clearly feeling the heat as was obvious during his press conference following the Tottenham debacle:
There are plenty of issues plaguing the club. One of the most frustrating is the inability of anyone to keep star midfielder Paul Pogba focused. Pogba was brilliant while leading France to the 2018 World Cup title, but has disappeared for long stretches during club play. He should be dominating the Premier League on a weekly basis, but is too often missing in action.
Perhaps worse, it has long been known Mourinho and Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward do not get along. Many fans blame Woodward for the current crisis, as they believe he hasn’t fully supported the manager. Whatever the deal is, things have reached meltdown levels of heat.
The latest point of contention came over Anthony Martial, who made his request for a transfer clear to the club. Mourinho sought to work out a move and set up deals with Chelsea (in exchange for Willian) and Tottenham (in exchange for Toby Alderweireld). Woodward blocked both moves. Now Martial is likely stuck with United for at least a few months and Mourinho was prevented from landing two players he coveted.
Then Mourinho all but demanded Woodward sell Martial so the manager could afford a new center back but, again, Woodward refused. He has also failed to provide adequate funds to upgrade a team that desperately needed help at the back. The seven goals conceded during the club’s first three matches are evidence of that.
The environment has become toxic and that’s shown on the field. Despite stretches of brilliant play in their opening three contests, United has looked a mess overall.
Maybe Monday’s massacre was the final straw and Mourinho will be shown the exit. While he’s had a brilliant managerial career, things are rotten at Old Trafford. But at this point it’s also obvious he’s not the only problem.