Talk about kicking a club when they’re down…
Jose Mourinho has said a few things about Manchester United since he was fired as their manager in December 2018.
But these are perhaps the most savage comments yet. It’s not how much you say, but what you say, and Jose hasn’t lost his touch.
Speaking to French outlet L’Equipe, Mourinho was asked about why United suffered so badly in the final weeks of the season and ended up finishing in sixth place after losing seven of their final 11 games in all competitions and picking up just one win in that run.
“On Manchester United, I only want to say two things. One is that time has spoken. Two, it’s the problems are still there,” Mourinho said.
Mourinho, 56, is still out of a job but has been linked with moves to the likes of Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, with the Portuguese legend spending plenty of time as a pundit on beIN Sport sharing his thoughts about the game.
Asked be L’Equipe about the power of Paul Pogba at United and if their issues off the field resulted in Mourinho being fired, because the club backed Pogba over him, the former FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss couldn’t have made his feelings any clearer.
“No, no. The problems are there, you can imagine that the problems are the players, the organization and the ambition,” Mourinho said. “I will only say that I cannot say ‘yes’ when you ask if Paul was the only one responsible.”
So, Mourinho is saying that Pogba was a part of the problem and that there is plenty of rot at the core of Manchester United.
He then went on to take a subtle swipe at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer…
“I really squeezed, like an orange, to achieve them. When you have a very professional group of players who are ambitious, hard-working and talented, at a structured club, you don’t have that erosion,” Mourinho explained. “When you are almost alone, in that you don’t have the support of the club close to you, while certain players go somewhat against the coach, who is the nice guy. I don’t want to be the nice guy, because the nice guy, after three months, is a puppet and that doesn’t end well.”
He has spoken quite positively about United since he left but with his replacement Solskjaer (first as a caretaker, then as a permanent head coach in April after an incredible few months in charge) now under pressure, Mourinho is twisting the knife a little.
Is Mourinho to blame for plenty of United’s problems on the pitch? Yes, of course he is. The squad he helped build then rip the confidence out of is largely down to him and his coaching staff.
But the larger problem at United, such as boardroom members (ahem, Ed Woodward) muddling into soccer decisions when they should stick to business, is what is really holding them back.
Until United appoint a sporting director to give them a clear identity and direction, they will be a rudderless ship drifting from one expensive mistake to another.
Mourinho is telling it how it is, and his feat of winning the Europa League and League Cup in 2016-17 and then finishing second in the Premier League in the 2017-18 campaign with these players is looking a better achievement by the week.
He knows it, and that is why Mourinho has gone in on United right now.