Commentary

Why Man United failure would be just fine

By Mike Woitalla

Let's hope Manchester City defeats Manchester United on Wednesday, because it could hasten the departure of Jose Mourinho, a man whose behavior the sport of soccer could very much do without.

How much patience Manchester United will have with Mourinho is hard to say, because firing him will no doubt cost the club millions in a contract buyout.

But the clock is ticking on the self-proclaimed Special One after less than half a year at the helm.

Last weekend, Manchester United getting thumped, 4-0, by his former club Chelsea dropped Man United to seventh place. He handled that setback by whining about Chelsea coach Antonio Conte encouraging his team’s fans to cheer. That from a man who in 2005 celebrated an own goal by Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard by pacing down the sideline in front of Liverpool fans and making the shush motion with a finger to his lips.

Mourinho’s record so far is just as bad as David Moyes’ was at this point in the 2013-14 season after Moyes took over for Alex Ferguson. Moyes lasted until April of that season.

And Mourinho got to spend a lot more money of Man United's money on new players (about $180 million, which doesn’t include free-transfer Zlatan Ibrahimovic) than Moyes ($33 million).

Mourinho's extraordinary coaching ability became apparent when the Portuguese guided Porto to the 2004 UEFA Cup and the 2005 Champions League title. That led his first Chelsea tenure, which included three Premier League titles. At Inter Milan he won two Serie A crowns and another Champions League title. But he still complained about referees, once making a handcuff gesture toward a TV camera that earned him a three-game ban.

At Real Madrid, he won La Liga once in a three-year stint during which he infamously poked his finger in the eye of Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova during a sideline altercation. He went trophy-less his last season with Real and didn’t win the Champions League he was hired for.

In his second stint in the EPL with Chelsea, he won the Premier League and League Cup in 2014-15 but feuded with Arsene Wenger, calling the Arsenal boss a "a voyeur,” and racked up $300,000 in fines, mostly for going after referees.

He complained of a “clear campaign” by referees against his club. During a game against West Ham, he went into the officials’ room at halftime and wouldn't leave. "He shouted that you f****** referees are weak,” read referee Jonathan Moss’ testimony.

Mourinho’s treatment of referees goes far beyond the pale. During his first stint at Chelsea, he accused highly respected FIFA referee Swedish referee Anders Frisk of colluding with Barcelona after a loss that set off such a torrent of harassment, including death threats, from Chelsea fans that Frisk retired at age 42.

Frisk, a Chelsea fan from childhood, said: “I have been subjected to things that I couldn't even imagine. I love to referee and I have done it since 1978, but what has happened to me over the last 16 days means it is not worth continuing. There have been threats on the telephone and via email and post, and my family have also been threatened. I have a big family and I have been worried -- anything can apparently happen.”

When Mourinho fails, it’s always someone else’s fault. Not just referees. During his second stint with Chelsea, when his team could muster only a 2-2 tie with Swansea, he blamed his medical staff.

He berated his team doctor, Eva Carneiro, on the sideline because she went onto the field to tend to Eden Hazard after he went down writhing in pain. Referee Michael Oliver, after inspecting Hazard, had waved to sideline indicating that treatment was necessary.

In her wrongful dismissal lawsuit, which Chelsea settled with a multi-million dollar payment, Carneiro said Mourinho called her a “daughter of a whore.”

Mourinho accused her of not understanding the game and being a naïve. Carneiro had been the club’s head doctor since 2009, serving under Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez before Mourinho.

When Mourinho does finally ride into the sunset, he’ll be remembered for an impressive haul of trophies and abhorrent behavior, not for the kind soccer his teams played. As Johan Cruyff put it: "Jose Mourinho is a negative coach. He only cares about the result and doesn't care much for good soccer.”

But the reality of the soccer world is that winning trophies trumps all, allowing grown men to behave in a manner that would get kids kicked out of kindergarten. And that makes it very hard to wish any success on Manchester United. Because only if it fails will we be spared of Mourinho’s antics.

4 comments about "Why Man United failure would be just fine ".
  1. Garrett Isacco, October 26, 2016 at 6 a.m.

    Kind of reminds me of the behavior of s certain presidential candidate.

  2. Ginger Peeler replied, October 26, 2016 at 9:01 a.m.

    My thoughts exactly, Garrett.!

  3. John M Cote, October 26, 2016 at 6:41 a.m.

    +1 Garrett!

    Mike - great piece. The Carneiro incident sealed Mourinho's ignominy once and for all.

  4. Kent James, October 27, 2016 at 8:58 p.m.

    Mike has given voice to many of our thoughts....(and Garrett too)

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