Where did it all go wrong for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United?
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After finishing in second place last season and showing clear progress from his first full season in charge, everything began to unravel during United’s preseason tour of the U.S. in July.
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Below is a look at the timeline of Mourinho’s demise, as his demeanor changed and once again he was hit by the third-season syndrome which is threatening to overshadow his success as one of the greatest managers the game has ever seen.
Timeline of Mourinho’s demise: July to December, 2018
“We are in trouble” – July, 29 2018: Repeats multiple times that United are in “trouble” as he wanted to sign new central defenders Harry Maguire and others.
Meeting with Woodward goes viral – August 1, 2018: Shown having a rather heated exchange with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in Miami after United’s final game of their preseason tour in the U.S. as it appears he will not sign the central defender he wanted.
“You cannot buy class” – August, 18 2018: Hits out at Manchester City after their ‘All or Nothing’ documentary shows players mocking him. “You cannot buy class and they showed that clearly, that was really obvious.”
Defeat at Brighton – August, 19 2018: Mourinho’s men lose at Brighton in a shocking defensive display which was to become one of the main reasons for their worst-ever start to a season.
Defeat at home against Tottenham, “respect, respect, respect” – August, 27 2018: After a 3-0 defeat at home by Tottenham, Mourinho demanded more respect from journalists who were questioning him as he stormed out of a press conference. “This [holding three fingers up]. 3-0, 3-0. Do you know what this is? 3-0. But it also means three Premierships and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them two. So respect man, respect, respect, respect.”
Fallout with Pogba caught on TV cameras – September 26, 2018: Cameras at United’s training ground show Mourinho having a go at Pogba and United’s midfielder hitting back at him. This was all centered around an Instagram video that Pogba had posted while in the stands at Old Trafford watching United’s League Cup defeat to second-tier Derby County a few days earlier.
Defeat at West Ham – September 29, 2018: A 3-1 hammering at the Hammers again underlined the defensive shambles his team had become. Pogba was subbed out in the second half and when asked to talk to reporters after the game he simply said: “You want me dead?”
Hits out at Chelsea fans after draw – October 20, 2018: Manchester United let in a late stoppage time goal at Chelsea to draw 2-2. Mourinho then hits out at Chelsea’s fans, holding up three fingers to let them know how many Premier League titles he had won for the club. A heated clash all around as Chelsea assistant Marco Ianni celebrated the late goal in Mourinho’s face which resulted in a melee.
Celebrates in front of Juventus fans – November 7, 2018: A rare bright spot over the past few months as United score twice late on to somehow snatch a victory at Juventus in the Champions League. Mourinho celebrates on the pitch at the final whistle, mocking the home fans (with a strange ear cup celebration that resembled a pirate) who had hurled insults at him. Several United legends accuse Mourinho of lacking class.
Defeat at Man City – November 18, 2018: Demolished by Man City 3-1 in the Manchester Derby, this underlined just how far United had fallen behind their closest rivals atop the table.
“We will be in the top four in January” – November 23, 2018: Mourinho declares that United will be in the top four of the Premier League by the end of December after the busy festive period. His team then went on a run of just one win in five games, which ended with him being fired. He left United 11 points off the top four.
Statement released by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes – December 10, 2018: Jorge Mendes released a statement saying that “Jose is very happy at the club and the club is very happy with him.” That came amid reports that Real Madrid wanted him to return as their manager. Mourinho said he “didn’t care” about Mendes’ statement and it was not his statement.
Defeat at Liverpool – December 16, 2018: A 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, after which Mourinho questioned the “physicality” of his players, praised Liverpool and then rattled off his success at previous teams Porto, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. In his final media appearance as United’s manager, perhaps he knew the end was near.