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Sports Then and Now

Jose Mourinho – Too Cautious to Succeed?

Posted on April 01, 2018 by John Harris

MourinhoCurrent Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, for nearly two decades now, has perhaps been the most important coach operating in the game of football. Champions League and Uefa Cup successes at Porto, turning Chelsea into the leviathan they are today, guiding Internazionale out of the wilderness and into the limelight and stopping Pep’s Barcelona, (albeit briefly) with Real Madrid all marked him out as one of the game’s brightest minds.

However, it is undeniable that his star is beginning to wane.

In fact, Mourinho’s position at Old Trafford is looking more perilous with each passing day. Despite signing a contract extension that theoretically sees him employed until the year 2020, Mourinho sits at odds of just 5/1 with Titanbet to leave his post in the summer.

After spending a total nearing £300 million, Jose Mourinho has ensured that the fans demand the utmost from his side. Of course, a club like Manchester United always need to be in the hunt for trophies, yet the Salford club’s demands extend far beyond the need for silverware. The club long for the brand football so regularly displayed by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fearing that Manchester United are losing what made them unique and are in the process of morphing into ‘just another big club’, we often hear a chorus of fans singing, “ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK!!”.

Manchester United have the players to play a more cavalier style of football, yet the manager in the dugout is reluctant to shift his foot too far from the break peddle. Mourinho, by his very nature, is a cautious individual, and nowhere was this more evident than in Manchester United’s recent elimination from the Champions League.

At the turn of the millennium, Sir Alex Ferguson realized that going away from home and securing a 0-0 draw was not best result in the world. It left too many variables for the home leg, fate placed into the fickle hands of Lady Luck.

Eighteen years on from that eureka moment, Mourinho has failed to apply this knowledge. A 0-0 draw in Seville was what he wanted, and so that’s what he got, yet in the return leg Manchester United looked tetchy, fully aware that at any moment Sevilla could hit them on the break. The inevitable occurred when Wissam Ben Yedder twice bested David de Gea.

A bolder approach and United would have strolled passed a Sevilla side that is still in a transitional period.

Mourinho has been a long-time subscriber to the teachings of the legendary Benfica coach Bela Gutman, who thought that a change was as good as a rest –moving clubs every three seasons or so. Mourinho has said that now is the time for him to lay down some roots, to establish himself an unbreakable legacy, yet if this is to happen for him in Manchester he will need to change the habits he has fostered his entire life.

Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, the league is fast becoming dominated by sides that see the value in going for the jugular. Mourinho, who sits second in the league currently has to be careful – the beasts of this world who fail to evolve soon become extinct.


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