The Blame Game: Is Mourinho on the Edge at United?

Manchester United

“Stupidity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”
Albert Einstein (probably)

He was a clever chap that Einstein. I doubt many of us would dare to argue with him when it comes to his universal theory of relativity yet when it comes to the above statement, a few would care to disagree. It may well be disputed as to if those words even came from the great scientist’s lips but one thing you cant dispute is that many at Old Trafford point black refuse to believe there is any truth in a statement… after all, we all know what Jose Mourinho thinks of ‘Einsteins’.

Right now, there is a storm brewing in the red half of Manchester and it’s a storm we’ve seen before.

Jose Mourinho is once again showing the surly petulance that his biggest fans would probably describe as “Mind Games” but most right-thinking individuals would more accurately term “slowing losing the plot”. We’ve seen if before with Mourinho and every time it ends in the same way: club and manager departing company.

Let us rewind a little to the start of the season. This was going to be Jose’s year. “He always wins a major title in his second year” chimed the United faithful as they looked longingly at the Premier League trophy and tried not to make any eye contact with their City supporting friends and colleges. There was almost a belief from some fans, that Jose had a god given right to walk away with a pot come the end of the season simply because he’d been in the job 2 years. Like some sort of loyalty bonus. This is obviously not the case and although Jose’s record in his second season throughout his career is exemplary, his failure to reach the high standards set by his own ego seems to be speeding the descent into his own downfall.

I think even Jose himself believes in “Second Season Syndrome”, his special power to win trophies after 12 months in a new job. Perhaps he even believes that tactical skill and transfer policy would all be secondary to the universe’s desire for him to achieve. Perhaps that is why Jose now looks desperately out of ideas and desperate for someone else to blame?

Mourinho is a man who has a history of creating headlines and enjoying it. He loves the limelight and would rather the press talked about his quips and comments than his team’s failings on the pitch. That has always been one of his skills, the legendary mind-games, the pressure away from his team and only his wool-coated shoulders.

‘Everything I say and do are mind games. The only thing that is not mind games are the results.’ | Jose Mourinho

But this season it feels different.

In Mourinho’s first season at Chelsea, he was a breath of fresh air. His comments, jokes and accusations were all presented with an element of theatre and knowing wink to the audience. This was a show and Jose was the star. During his second spell at the Blues, like now, the sparkle has gone. The funny, off-the-cuff comments now seem tired, angry and vicious rather than playful.

The recent post-Manchester Derby “Milk-Gate” story, accusing opposition players of “lacking respect” for daring to celebrate a victory, can be filed alongside previous tales of eye-gouging and arguments with female doctors. Carefully logged under: “Times Jose Lost the Plot” moments of irrational behaviour that surface when the slippery rope of reason begins to slip for Jose’s grasp. These incidents cant be dismissed as “Mind Games”. These are incidents where the Portuguese has lost control and buckled under the pressure.

These were times that the pressures of previous achievement became too much for Jose… and it’s happening again.

Jose’s post-match press conferences of late have had the air of a man desperately seeking answers. Unable to find any on the pitch he delivers a string of excuses, grabbing at reasons and throwing out accusations but never once with the buck stopping at his own door.

The loss to lowly Bristol City in the FA Cup? They were lucky.

The disappointing draw with Leicester City? The immaturity of his players.

The battled point against Burnley? The unwillingness of the board to spend money on players.

The finger of blame doesn’t stop there either. It’s been pointed at the media, the FA, uneducated players, cheating teams and pretty much anyone who comes in eye-line of the United manager when he’s in a bad mood. Each result comes with its own excuse and although on occasion, there may be some credibility in the reasoning, the inability to take any blame makes them look just that. Not reasons but excuses. Can a man really be a leader if he doesn’t take responsibility?

Just like his second spell at Chelsea, the outbursts are becoming more extreme, the expression is becoming more sullen and the results are getting steadily worse with players regularly failing to perform.

It’s not a disaster yet by any stretch of the imagination, United are picking up points in the league and were it not for an exceptional City team, they would be still in the hunt for the Premier League title. Nor is there an itchy-trigger-figgered Russian at the United helm. Instead, there is a smart, business-minded board, keen to re-establish the stability that has been lacking since Sir Alex walked away (if a Jose appointment can ever be considered Stable).

There will be no sacking. The powers that be are very unlikely to dump Jose so soon, even if his behaviour doesn’t fit the club brand. Who else would you get? The bigger question is how long can Jose cope with not being top dog in Manchester, let alone the League, and what happens when he runs out of excuses?

You can hear more from Jim in his twice-weekly Alternative Football Show. Hear the latest episode here!