Jose Mourinho’s lost the plot as he’s turned extraordinary players into a very average Manchester United side
Jose Mourinho’s lost the plot as he’s turned extraordinary players into a very average Manchester United side - America News

Jose Mourinho’s lost the plot as he’s turned extraordinary players into a very average Manchester United side

  • 4 month ago

WHEN Jose went haring down the touchline at Old Trafford in 2004, he was forging some pretty ordinary Porto players into an extraordinary Champions League-winning team.

Fourteen years later, Mourinho is moulding some extraordinary footballers into one distinctly average Manchester United side.

 Alexis Sanchez has yet to make a major impact at Manchester United since his high-profile switch from Arsenal

At a combined cost of £660.8million, Mourinho now presides over the third-most-expensive squad the world has ever seen.

Only Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, funded by the wealth of nation states, cost more.

Of course, this season’s City are historically good.

Mourinho would not have been castigated for giving it a good go and finishing within spitting distance of Pep Guardiola’s magnificent men.

 Jose Mourinho has guided Utd to second place but they are 16 points behind City
 Jose Mourinho has been in the shadows of City boss Pep Guardiola this season

But it’s not just Saint Pep who is making Mourinho look average.

Defeats at Tottenham and Newcastle have laid bare the fact that players are not improving individually or collectively under Mourinho, a manager who no longer seems to learn from his mistakes.

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At dressing-room and boardroom level, United are making it up as they go along.

While Alexis Sanchez may have been a statement signing, a warning shot across the bows of the good ship City, he wasn’t a player they particularly needed.

Going into January, the club told leading agents they wanted a left-back and a holding midfielder, adding that they would consider a world-class centre-back or right-back.

 Alexis Sanchez has yet to get up and running since joining Man Utd

Instead, they ended up with a 29-year-old attacker on the highest wage — £505,000 a week — the Premier League has ever seen.

They threw in an extended contract for a manager failing to make significant progress.

A manager whose team were lucky not to be hammered by Spurs — but who picked the same side for United’s next away fixture.

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One proviso of Mourinho agreeing to that extension, tying him down until 2020, was the guarantee of a holding midfielder and at least three new defenders arriving in the summer — when the value of United’s squad will be approaching £1billion.

So this is the grandest of building projects — but it has seemingly been undertaken without an architect’s plan.

United’s commercial department will trumpet the fact that Sanchez and Paul Pogba have sold more shirts than any other player in the Premier League this season.

 Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba have sold more shirts than any other Prem players

They are becoming the English Galacticos, almost seeming to value celebrity over silverware.

But on the pitch, Sanchez’s arrival seems to be stunting the progress of Pogba, who ought to be central to everything United hope to achieve.

Although the Frenchman simply did not see enough of the ball to pull any strings at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Across the team there are similar stories.

 Dele Alli and especially Harry Kane have progressed well at Spurs - while some big names at Man Utd seem to have gone backwards under boss Jose Mourinho

A year ago, Romelu Lukaku was compared favourably with Harry Kane. Now the Belgian is not even close.

Chris Smalling, one player who improved markedly under Louis van Gaal, now looks a liability — his partnership with Phil Jones is way off title-winning class.

And despite that gargantuan spend, it’s still Ashley Young as a makeshift left-back.

At the Etihad on April 7, there is every chance this bang-average United team will be forming a guard of honour to welcome City’s new champions before the Manchester derby — six weeks before the end of the Premier League season.

 Utd striker Romelu Lukaku has faded after comparisons with Harry Kane last year

When United hired Mourinho, they must have thought they were recruiting the same charismatic team-builder who once shocked them with Porto.

But that was a very long time ago and this is a very different Mourinho.

Jaded, careworn, paranoid — and failing.

Weng poser

WITH Arsenal’s top-four hopes virtually kiboshed by defeat in the North London derby, there have been calls for Arsene Wenger to prioritise the Europa League.

 Arsene Wenger will not find his task easier if he focuses on the Europa League

That’s nice in theory. But Arsenal will be up against three A-list sides in Atletico Madrid, Dortmund and Napoli.

Then plenty of others — AC Milan, RB Leipzig, Dynamo Kiev, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Lyon and Marseille — well capable of beating a Gunners team who are awful away from home.

So, will an absence of the Champions League for a second successive season instigate the meaningful mid-term review of Wenger’s £18million two-year deal we were promised?

You already know the answer to that.

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Icy 'n dicey

EARLY impressions of covering the Olympics: 

1 It’s really cold. Yep, we know it’s winter and it’s supposed to be cold, but these are the coldest Games ever.

2 Short-track speed-skating is as thrilling a live sporting spectacle as you could witness, but it’s also nuts.

3 Snowboarders are nuts. Boarding in these winds is utterly nuts.

4 Cross-country skiing is nuts but not as nuts as biathlon, which is gruelling cross-country skiing to get the ticker racing plus rifle shooting necessitating a low heart-rate.

5 There is nothing more nuts than ski jumping. When you’ve seen how huge those hills really are you’ll never scoff at Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards again.

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Mind out, Eddie

IT WOULD be appreciated if Eddie Jones — on course for an historic third straight Six Nations title — could leave out the laughable attempts at mind games.

Before the Wales match, he might as well have had a sign on his forehead reading ‘MIND GAMES’, with an arrow pointing down at his gob.