Jose Mourinho is not yesterday’s man by any means.
Manchester United ’s awful performance against Sevilla on Tuesday night would have been just as awful in any era.
It is an insult to his Champions League winning teams at Porto and Inter to compare them with his current United team.
So to suggest Mourinho’s qualities belong to a bygone time is too simplistic – and doesn’t come close to addressing the issues facing him at Old Trafford.
The game hasn’t left him in the past – but it is time to take a serious look at his long-term vision at United.
He says he needs more players.
Few would disagree after the pitiful efforts of the majority of the United team who slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla – notwithstanding the fact Mourinho named a bench on the night worth more than £200m.
But if his summer acquisitions emulate the form of two of his most prized acquisitions in Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, then United would be better off without them.
Pogba cannot be blamed for his £89m price tag – but at any cost the Frenchman looked like poor value with such an aimless, insipid substitute appearance.
Footage of him hopelessly kicking the ball into touch when trying to pass to Romelu Lukaku , unchallenged, has gone viral.
It’s unlikely that was part of Mourinho’s tactical masterplan.
Alexis Sanchez’s continual concession of the ball won’t have formed the basis of too many team talks either.
The Chilean was supposed to be United’s wild card in the Champions League – he’s turned out to be more of a joker.
Victor Lindeloff, meanwhile, a £31m addition, has failed to establish himself above centre backs dating back to Sir Alex Ferguson ’s time at the club.
While Lukaku was one of the few players who emerged from Tuesday with even a modicum of credit – the £75m striker was guilty of wasting United’s only decent chance of the first leg in Seville.
Recruitment is undoubtedly an issue – as is Mourinho’s effectiveness at harnessing the talent at his disposal.
Faced with a relatively kind draw, United’s players looked consumed by fear – all but devoid of ideas.
They must take the blame for that – but so must Mourinho.
Again – this is not about an antiquated approach, it is about his ability to impress upon his players what was required of them.
That was not an issue for any of his successful teams – and it is safe to assume the tactics he deployed at Porto, Chelsea , Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea again – would have been much more effective had any of those teams been confronted with Sevilla in the last 16.
Which is why attempts to dismiss him as past it, are premature at best, wildly over-reactive at worst.
‘But what about Pep Guardiola ’s Manchester City ?’ they say.
Guardiola’s Barcelona were a pretty decent side when Inter knocked them out in the semi final on the way to conquering Europe in 2010.
In fact Guardiola credits the Catalans’ brand of football to Johan Cruyff, which significantly pre-dates his four years in charge from 2008-2012.
Mourinho last won the Premier League title in 2015.
Has the game in this country changed so dramatically since?
Did Leicester herald a new era for English football’s top flight?
Did Antonio Conte’s Chelsea last season?
The same Conte who not only parked the bus at the Etihad earlier this month – but a whole fleet of them.
European football’s supposedly shifting landscape also looks remarkably like it did around the turn of the century.
Back then Real filled their squad with Galacticos and won three Champions League trophies in five years.
Roll the clock forward and Galactico-filled Real have won three of four.
The best players tend to win the biggest prizes – no matter what era.
And that will be the concern for Mourinho, whose unique selling point was to be able to organise teams capable of making up any discrepancy in quality.
On paper – United should be in the draw for the last eight.
On grass, they were nowhere near.
Mourinho needs to ascertain how it got to this point.
How a Manchester United team, on home soil, could be so devoid of confidence – particularly so soon after the morale-boosting win against Liverpool just days earlier.
That will be a question for Ed Woodward and United’s board too.
It is worth remembering the club remain in the ascendancy under Mourinho.
They are on course for their highest finish in the league post-Ferguson.
But Tuesday night will be a stain on Mourinho’s reputation that he will struggle to shift.
A stain on United’s too.
Woodward and the club’s shareholders on the New York Stock Exchange are acutely aware of the importance of the image of United.
They are still reaping the benefits of the reputation created by the thrilling football of Sir Matt Busby and Ferguson.
Tuesday was the antithesis of that – even if Ferguson was guilty of some European horror nights himself.
Mourinho brings with him winning football.
When he stops winning – or loses in such a fashion on the biggest stage – questions have to be asked.
He has credit in the bank – two trophies in his first season.
Second place this term, as well as the FA Cup , represents progress again – but under no circumstances is it what was expected of him when he succeeded Louis van Gaal .
In fact, he’d be in Arsene Wenger territory – the man he dubbed a ‘specialist in failure.’
Wenger long-claimed top four and Champions League qualification was success – and Mourinho will claim likewise this season report the MEN .
For both him and United that has never been the case – in any era.
Source : DailyPost