José Mourinho Doesn’t Need To Change Much At Manchester United

Posted: September 17, 2016 in Chelsea, European Football, Football, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
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In the first two or three weeks of the Mourinho reign at Manchester United it became fairly obvious that the leopard was trying to change some, if not all, of his spots.

He and the players were seen arriving at games in the standard issue club blazer and tie. He even managed to fasten the top button on his shirt.

Press conferences were all about how big the team was and how much of a privilege it was to be the man in charge and of how United were one of the elite few clubs who could afford to buy a player like Paul Pogba, (counter this with his reaction, when at Chelsea, to United’s purchase of Luke Shaw when he said that he would never spend that much money on such a young player nor would he sanction the type of wages that would need to be paid).

He talked about winning the Premier League and how it would be pointless to say or think otherwise. After all, Mourinho WANTS to win it, whether or not he DOES win it is an entirely different matter. He was speaking his mind and his mind, at that time, coincided with what Manchester United supporters wanted to hear.

A few short weeks later and the United team is arriving for a European game in t-shirts and track suit trousers with a casually dressed Mourinho in accompaniment.

Personally speaking, I have nothing against this mode of attire as I find it much more comfortable, particularly when travelling distances by air, and I have always hated wearing a tie. The difference here, some would argue, is that this is Manchester United. The standards by which they are judged and respected were set by the likes of Sir Matt Busby and continued by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Since arriving at Chelsea it has been said that Antonio Conte has instilled more discipline into the club and the players. This obviously tends to imply that, under Mourinho, there were less rules, less disciplinary measures and less control.

It seems that going to United, initially, saw Mourinho caught up in the aura of the club. He was only too happy to continue the things he saw as “traditional”. The only change, of which I am aware, made in his first couple of weeks, was to take down the CCTV cameras recording the training sessions at Carrington, a measure which went down well with the players who saw them as intrusive.

He has since given the players a fixed weekly day off. This is another measure which has made him more popular as they can now, for example, plan a day out with the family. Sir Alex reserved the right to call players in for additional training as and when he thought the situation merited it. This could be any day at any time and, in some ways, kept the players on their toes.

In some ways it appears that Mourinho has been trying to remove some of the shackles placed on the players by Louis van Gaal, which is no bad thing when you consider the fear with which they played under the Dutchman!

José has also been saying recently that it is not his job to motivate the players. Well whose job is it then? The players themselves pocket large amounts of money just for turning up and that, in itself, would suggest that extra motivation is required from a third party.

Everybody is motivated by at least one of the same two things. Fear or greed or both. Fear of not being considered good enough, of losing a job, of getting old and not winning anything or having nothing to show for all the years of service given. Greed for trophies, for recognition, to be the best, to play the most games or win the most caps. Fear and greed come in many different guises but they are the two true motivating factors.

Football players, at the top level, need to be reminded why they are paid so much, why they are at Manchester United and why such large audiences pay to go and see them play. This is the job of the manager. It is one of the aspects of management at which Sir Alex Ferguson excelled. For José Mourinho to expect the players to motivate themselves is naive to say the least. Some will be able to, some won’t and the ones who can’t will eventually leave the club.

José has also been reviving his famous, “the players didn’t follow my instructions” excuse, famous from his defeat against Leicester when, as Chelsea manager, he was in charge for his final game. He did add, quite quickly, that it was because of the size of the game and this had got to the players, confusing them and causing them to make mistakes.

In conclusion, José Mourinho doesn’t have to change much about himself to be successful with Manchester United. He has to change the mentality of some of the players and, probably, some of the longer serving staff members, but not himself. His best chance is to stay as he is but also to stay out of the media occasionally and conduct himself more like, dare I say it, Pep Guardiola across the city.

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