London, United Kingdom, Dec 18 – Jose Mourinho’s increasingly tempestuous reign at Manchester United came to an end on Tuesday when the club sacked him after just two-and-a-half years in charge.
The 55-year-old’s unhappiness at the club manifested itself even before the season started.
Here AFP Sport picks out five quotes that chart the decline in relations between Mourinho, the club and the players:
Mourinho’s relationship with record signing Paul Pogba had already become fraught in the 2017/18 season when he dropped the Frenchman for the Champions League loss to Sevilla. But the path to the complete breakdown in relations took root in the wake of comments he made after the 25-year-old’s shining moment in scoring in the World Cup final win over Croatia. Pogba was said to be furious when he read the remarks.
“During a season, you can have a big match then a smaller match, then one even smaller, then you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration, then comes a big match again.
“In the World Cup, the direction of the emotion, of the responsibility, of the big decisions is always growing up.
“So I think it was the perfect environment for him.”
Mourinho voices his concerns, following a 4-1 pre-season hammering by Liverpool, regarding the transfer policy of the club even though early in the close season he had been quick off the mark and secured Brazilian midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and full-back Diogo Dalot from FC Porto.
“I gave a list to my club of five names a few months ago and I wait to see if it’s possible to have one of these players. If it’s possible, it’s possible. If it’s not, it’s not. If it’s possible, it’s good. If not then we keep fighting and working and believing in the players that we have.”
Just a few weeks into the season Mourinho felt obliged to remind the world of his achievements as a manager, resorting to citing German philosopher Georg Hegel to support his argument.
“Did you read any philosopher? You spent time reading Hegel. Just as an example Hegel says: ‘The truth is in the whole,’ (it is) always in the whole.”
By this stage United were 14 points off neighbours Manchester City and seven adrift of the Champions League qualification places. Mourinho returned to his favoured defence of how hard it is to buy the top players even though over his tenure he spent around £360 million ($455 million).
“You have no chance in the market unless you go to crazy numbers. Instead you go to the second-level players where you still have crazy numbers, and where people say, and I agree, that’s not what Manchester United is.”
Less than a week later Mourinho had revised his target for finishing in the top four at the end of the year — there is an eight-point gap between them in seventh spot and fourth-placed Arsenal. His low ambitions not only upset United fans further but probably set alarm bells ringing in the boardroom. A further tirade at the players failed to spark them into positive action as evidenced by the dysfunctional display against Liverpool.
“The target changed but let’s try to close the distance as best as we can and be very close to these positions.
“We need some players to perform better than they are. We need to perform better as a team, but it would be far from a miracle.”