From an American perspective, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Monday committed what would be a cardinal sin in most coaching circles: He refused to take full responsibility for his team’s defeat.
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Coming off a disastrous 3-1 defeat to West Ham on Saturday, Mourinho, with two days to digest his team’s performance, decided that the best way to unite his team is to remind everyone that the entire club is to blame, not just one person, the front office or the guy selling pies and a beer in the concourses.
“It’s a collective thing,” Mourinho said at a press conference Monday ahead of Man United’s home match in the UEFA Champions League against Valencia. “The reason we do not win matches is the same reason why we win matches. It’s the responsibility of everybody. The performance on the pitch in my opinion is the consequent of many factors. Luke Shaw, for example, told me something I agree with, but not totally because I am part of it and other people are part of it. But he says ‘we players on the pitch, it’s about us, we have to perform and give more’. I like that perspective but I don’t agree totally. It’s all of us.
“Everybody in the club has a role to play. The kit man has a role to play, the nutritionist has a role to play, I have a role to play, everyone has a role to play. When we win we all win and when we lose we all lose. And we lose the responsibility is the responsibility of everyone.”
Since Mourinho hasn’t taken any responsibility for the team’s performances this season, we’ve seen players decide to shoulder the burden. In the defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion, it was Paul Pogba who said the team’s “attitude” wasn’t good enough and that started with him. This past week, it was Shaw, who called his side’s performance, “horrendous” against West Ham.
Mourinho doesn’t have a problem with his players taking the blame, but as you see in the quote above, he decides that it’s not enough for the players to be at fault, it’s also the nutritionist, and the security guards, and front office staff. Of course, poor leadership and decision making in a front office can affect how a team plays on the field, but that’s not the case here. In this instance, it’s a manager, perhaps who knows he’s only got a few weeks left, trying to shape the narrative that none of this is his fault, Man United were in trouble before him and they’ll be struggling after him.