FEATURE: Mourinho invoking ghosts of teams past - FCNaija
EPL By: Imo-owo Mbede | 16/02/2018
Jose Mourinho’s career has been as replete with success as it has been with controversy at every club he has managed. Where tactical acumen and a strong winning mentality have been his recipe for success, his egocentric disposition has been the cancer that often eats up his alliances to controversial disintegration. This was heightened during his second spell at Chelsea Football club where the team ended up in a go-slow, leading to his sack.After getting the top job at Old Trafford – a job he long coveted – one would have thought Mourinho had learnt from his prior experiences how to better manage his own over-bloated ego as well as those of his staff. But alas, the Mourinho of old is gradually resurfacing at Carrington, just over 18 months in. After an outstanding run en route winning the Europa cup last season, Armenian playmaker, Henrikh Mkhitaryan emerged the first casualty of Mourinho’s ineptness at managing talents in time of crisis. Under Mourinho’s tutelage, Mkhitaryan’s confidence took a severe and almost permanently hit, resulting in a switch to rivals Arsenal last month.Ander Herrera – the team’s best outfield player last season – has spent more time on the bench this term, probably due to the acquisition of Nemanja Matic. But for a player who is equally effective offensively to be left on the bench when the team lacks incisiveness going forward questions the Coach’s intentions. Luke Shaw is gradually playing himself back to reckoning after a severe tongue-lashing from his coach dampened his morale, thereby lengthening an already long road to recovery from a career-threatening injury.A year ago, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were believed to be the present and future of Manchester United’s attack. Today they are struggling for consistency to stand out (like Paulo Dybala and Kylian Mbappe) because Mourinho has sentimentally stuck with Romelu Lukaku to lead the team’s attack, despite the Belgian’s insipid performances. There was great belief that in his second season, Coach Mourinho would propel United to a first Premier League crown in 5 years. Unfortunately, the team has been an inexplicable epitome of inconsistency occasionedby his egoistically illogical stance sometimes or, perhaps,sheer tactical inferiority.These all point to managerial ineptitude because it is hard to imagine that a team beaming with the aforementioned talents is struggling. Or isn’t it weird thataverage players (yes, average players!) like Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard suddenly became the leading lights in an outfit where Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford struggled?This managerial ineptitude has probably led to ill-feelings among the players because if the spectators are bemoaning the coach for consistently playingthe atrocious Lukaku ahead ofthe more talented Martial and Rashford, the latter two will understandably be absolutely discontented and frustrated. The players would also have felt a sense of injustice going by the double standard Mourinho exhibited in managing Mkhitaryan’sloss of form as compared to Lukaku’s.The professionals they are, the players will obviously not air their displeasure publicly – at least not yet – but it takes less than common sense to realize that the team’s on-field struggles is purely down to a dispirited dressing room at Old Trafford, evident evenin the players’ physical disposition.Paul Pogba has been the team’s most influential player – as an attacking midfielder. But Mourinho recently decided to deploy Pogba in a deeper midfield role alongside Nemanja Matic. This has not only taken the sting out of the team’s offensive play by inhibiting Pogba’s(and the team’s) creative propensity, but has stirred a silent feud between the Frenchman and the coach. Pogba has excelled in an attacking role on the left side of midfield over the last four years so it is clearlyirrational of Mourinho to force him into a role he won’t perform optimally, more so when the team is in need of every point available.Like the rest of us, Pogba has obviously seen Mourinho nearly impede the development of certain players; the rise and rise of Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammed Salah – both former protégés of Mourinho’s –being daily reminders. Pogbasurely does not want to fall victim and so– in my opinion –is deliberately refusing to give his best during matches of late. This does not justify Pogba’s below par performances, but the coach is responsible for keeping his players happy to get the best out of them. In failing to do this with Paul Pogba, Mourinho is invoking the ghosts of teams past where such mismanagement of players often led to catastrophe. Mourinho is still highly rated amongst coaches in the world, but he must realize that after the Chelsea debacle, his current job willprobably define his coaching career. He should realize that all his past achievements will pale to insignificance if he fails to lift the Premier League with Manchester United,or gets fired or resigns. This is because the currently held postulation that he has gone full cycle and has lost the aptitude to coach at the highest level would be affirmed. For the controversial personality he has been throughout his career, he will therefore most likely be remembered for recent failures than past glories.