Does the curmudgeonly nature of Jose Mourinho know no bounds?
After a disappointing draw to struggling Southampton left United lingering in seventh place – eight points off the top four – you’d think it’d be a smart move for the manager to rally everyone at the club ahead of a tough clash against in-form Arsenal.
But Mourinho doesn’t really do the expected.
Instead, he allegedly labelled Paul Pogba a “virus” in the St Mary’s dressing room to add yet another dig to the long list of criticisms the pair have traded all season long. Now Jose’s taken a swipe at the club’s own television channel.
When questioned by MUTV about United’s worsening injury crisis, Mourinho stated: “I don’t want to update you, I would like Arsenal TV to make the same questions but they don’t, they hide everything from the inside, so why should I answer to you?”
Way to get your colleagues right on board, eh?
So with even the club’s in-house reporters now on his naughty list, who can Mourinho still call his friends?
It’s common knowledge Mourinho has a particular fondness for the sort of players who put their elbows through pencil sharpeners, and Fellaini is no exception.
Despite being a frequent target for the Old Trafford boo-boys ever since his arrival – mainly due to his association with David “what the f*ck am I doing here?!” Moyes – Mourinho’s always had the Belgian’s back. Mainly because his last-minute goals often keep him in a job for another week.
“I think now he’s getting [the credit he deserves],” said Mourinho last week. “I think until I came [to Man Utd] he probably didn’t, but I think now everyone gives him what he deserves.”
He even managed to get a humble brag in there. Top Jose-ing.
Similarly to Fellaini, Ashley Young is another whose performances Mourinho has been able to count on during his more troublesome times in charge. Speaking about the Englishman in the summer, Mourinho said: “When I arrived, he was playing a few matches per season. For the last couple of seasons, lots of injuries, lots of doubts, lots of question marks about his future at the highest level.
“In two years, we had him for lots of matches, being important… I think he’s better now than he was two years ago.”
No matter what, you can never write off Mourinho’s self-belief in his coaching.
When you’re fortunate enough to be earning multi-million pound salaries (and are frequently in line to receive even bigger pay-offs each time you “mutually decide” to leave your employer), it’s vital to keep your accountant on side. Jose is well aware of this.
Just imagine the chaos it would cause if the Portuguese went into a rant about his money man’s lack of work rate or turning up to appointments overweight. It would be like in Layer Cake when Daniel Craig turns up to collect his dough, only to discover his accountant has done a runner with it.
There’s simply no way Jose could risk that happening.
It’s a testament to the pair’s relationship that they’ve remained friendly despite the apprentice beating his master when Derby dumped the Red Devils out of the Carabao Cup in September.
When Lampard was inducted in the Legends of Football Hall of Fame (that sounds like some kind of superhero justice league, doesn’t it?) in October, Jose sent a video message calling Frank “not just one of my best players ever, but one of the best professionals.”
We wonder if that attitude will change somewhat if the Rams knock them out of the FA Cup this season as well.
Talking behind Monday Night Football’s giant iPad in 2017, Terry – who captained Chelsea to three Premier Leagues under the Portuguese – described him as “the best manager and coach I worked with… I would leave that pitch in a coffin for him and every player felt the same.”
Things haven’t got that extreme for any of Mourinho’s teams just yet, but we bet he’s glad to know there’s still some people willing to go that far for him.
As we well know, not every player who has worked under Jose would jump at the chance to do it again. So you have to sit up and take notice of the players who say they would.
Brazilian forward Willian is one of those. In August he gushed: “Mourinho is the best manager I’ve ever worked with. We have a good relationship, we are friends. Sometimes we talk, we text, we send messages to each other via WhatsApp… I really enjoyed working with him. I hope I can work with him again some day.”
Quite what Jose is WhatsApping remains a mystery – degrading Photoshops of Arsene Wenger, perhaps? Regardless, it’s good to know he can count another friend to reply with the crying laughter emoji next time he lights up the group chat.
The mercurial quote machine and Mourinho have had an engaging bond ever since their time at Inter Milan a decade ago. Zlatan described him as a “winner” who “pumped me up and cut me down” in his autobiography, and their relationship stood the test of time after he rejoined his old boss at United.
Then, following his move to LA Galaxy earlier this year, the Swede made a video in which he revealed how much he missed being coached by Jose Mourinho. Aww, how cute. Although knowing Zlatan’s eccentricity, it’ll probably be revealed as some elaborate bizarre prank in years to come.
So, as far as people who Mourinho enjoys cordial relations with, that’s about it out of the 7.5 billion or so people on Earth.
Well, you can’t please everybody, can you?