Wednesday 27 December 2017

Pressure and frustration comes to a head as Jose hits out

You got the feeling this latest Jose Mourinho tirade had been coming for a while now. The further Manchester City have pulled over the horizon, the grumpier and more irritable Jose has become - the pressure and frustration of not being able to keep pace with his great adversary Pep Guardiola has finally become too much. The five point gap between us and them after ten games has now become an insurmountable 15-point chasm before 2017 is out.

On the pitch, too, there have been signs that all is not well - with the very un-Mourinho like concession of that injury time goal at Leicester. The very least you expect from a team managed by Jose is that they're well organised, defensively strong and miserly from set-pieces at both ends of the pitch. Recently, we've not been any of those, although the situation has hardly been helped by injury. This month, both of Manchester City's goals were gifted to them from dead ball situations, we failed to deal with Marc Albrighton's cross into the box against Leicester and Burnley were the latest beneficiaries with two free-kick strikes on Boxing Day. From corners, a valuable source of goals and another characteristic of a Jose team, we've regularly committed the cardinal sin - failure to beat the first man.

It's hardly a reason for over-reaction, after all we are still in second place in the league and with a last 16 Champions League tie to look forward to, but neither are sustainable on current performances.
 After the Burnley draw, no target was spared as Jose unleashed an angry torrent - his players (who he had called childish and immature after the Leicester game), for conceding two "s**t" goals, the board for not giving him enough cash to spend, and leaders City for their lavish resources and whom he accused of effectively buying their way to the title. Ed Woodward and the United owners, the Glazer family, were sent a blunt message: the £300m windfall splashed across the last two transfer windows is not enough.
There's nothing wrong with a manager criticising his players if it's justified, and it's hard to argue that two points from Leicester and Burnley represents a disappointing return from the Christmas games - ideally we were looking at four, or even six. But when the players are publicly slammed and criticised in the public eye, there's very little justification. It may well be a motivational tool, but more often that not it backfires and does more harm than good. We saw that at Chelsea when Jose accused his "lazy" players of betraying him after a defeat at Leicester, of all places, during the ill-fated 2015-16 season. He was sacked two days later.

That won't happen this time, but for a man who so coveted the Old Trafford job, Jose has rarely looked like a manager enjoying his time at the club. Yes, there has been improvement, but also a growing concern that Mourinho - who remember has never failed to win the title in his second season at a club - is not the man to end a title drought that now looks likely to extend to a sixth campaign.

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