Mourinho’s Second Season At Manchester United: Why there was no trophy!
By Adeola Aderounmu
I am an unusual fan.
When l was a little boy growing up in Nigeria l knew the names of many football teams and many of their football players. In the days of Leventis United and ABIOLA Babes, l rock. And for the Nigerian national team, l knew their shirt numbers and their names from Best Ogedegbe to Segun Odegbami and Christian Chukwu.
Nigerian football died literarily the same way the Nigerian economy and many other glorious things died.
So instead of writing about Nigerian professional league which is on the rise again (l hope) but suffering severely in terms of marketing and profit compared to foreign leagues. Of course we left things in the hand of very bad people and very ignorant people. We have issues in Nigeria. Serious ones!
So don’t be mad at me for writing about Mourinho and Manchester United.
I am an unusual fan because l hardly follow a team for long. Rather l get stuck with some managers and over the past few years it has been Mourinho and recently Zidane.
Mourinho was supposed to be the man lifting the premier league trophy in 2018 but he made some terrible choices along the way. In the second season, still struggling with some half-baked players and some of the world’s most expensive players, Mourinho still had the chance but he was a bit disorganised.
A couple of things went wrong for Mourinho.
One of them was that he never had a nucleus team. No team can win anything without having a nucleus. Jose Mourinho did not establish a starting 11 under the 2017-2018 season. This is very bad for a coach. Mourinho should have had a good idea of his starting 11 for the league, for the champions league and for the league cup.
There are always injury concerns that affect the stability of a team. In the absence of injury you still need to establish a nucleus for every competition you play.
In one outstanding game, Mourinho’s Manchester United defeated Liverpool and with the way he had played the season, he could have used the same team to dismiss Sevilla.
But Mourinho decided to change the team. It is not as if l am contradicting myself but since Mourinho’s team was not a steady one he could have used the momentum of the Liverpoool game to dismiss Sevilla. But Mourinho more or less threw the game away at Old Trafford.
In the next season Mourinho needs to make a better plan and take the risks with the players he has. Build a nucleus of players for each competition and stop the excessive rotation of players after every game. For the premier league especially, he needs a team of 11 and a balanced group of replacements on the bench. You can’t win the premier league with unsteady selections.
The other problem with Mourinho is that he spent a lot of time planning the technicalities for the big games and doing nothing for the small games. It was the small games that sank Manchester United in the 2017/18 season. Hudderfield, Newcastle and other smaller teams stole victories from Manchester United. Some get draws! The worst was the lose to West Brom who were already hopeless.
Jose Mourinho, you cannot win the premier league when you lose to teams facing relegation. Mourinho and Manchester United must spend as much time and energy on the big games as the small games. They all count.
Another sensitve issue in Manchester United is the team ego. The team has many big players who want to hold down certain positions in the team. Mourinho must have this sorted out during the pre-season and in training. A player should not come on or off the pitch grumbling or unhappy. As l player l need to know where and how l fit in the the coach’s plan and do my job on the pitch.
I was following Mourinho at Chelsea, at Madrid, a bit at Inter. He has down a full cycle and is now at Manchester United. What Mourinho needs to do better is not complete without talking about his defensive style. He needs to be more ruthless and Manchester United really needs to train about how the players can work more for the team than for self-glory. When you attack, the players need to look for one another in order to maximise their advantages.
Often Manchester United fall deep in own half instead of finishing up a game they are poised to win. If you have a better team you need to show it more in attacking and less in counter attack.
Jose, now you know that someone is following you first and the team second.
Good luck to you next season and l will be watching you and the style you bring.
By the way, victory or no victory, l get inspiration from you as a coach and as a school teacher l adapt some of what l see in what l do but l try not to change too many things so that my students don’t get confused. Teachers always stick to the plan!