A piece of advice often given to managers who are wondering what tactics or team selection to employ in a game of football is: “do what the opposition want you to do the least.”
This might have been playing on Ed Woodward’s mind too over the last week when deciding whether to dispense with the services of Jose Mourinho. What would everyone else like us to do?
I would say the only sadness at the Jose’s sacking this week came from a couple of journalists he keeps close, the lad who does the room service at the Lowry Hotel and opposition fans.
For Liverpool fans and, I am sure, Manchester City fans – whose teams are riding high at the moment – the car crash that is the current version of Manchester United is most entertaining. If indeed, given what they have served up on the pitch this season, it is even possible to use Manchester United and entertaining in the same sentence.
Jose Mourinho used to be a manager who was feared by rival fans. You’d breathe a sigh of relief when he was off winning things somewhere else.
That first Chelsea team he built is still one of the best I have ever seen. That confidence he showed when he walked in and told the world what he was going to do and then did it made the whole process look so inevitable. When Jose is about he wins. When he eventually came back from winning in Europe he won the league again with Chelsea.
So when he went to Manchester United like he always seemed destined to and won two cups in his first season you thought “here we go”.
They’ve messed around with other managers and it has been fun whilst they were rubbish for a bit, but the winner is back now and normal service will be resumed. Where it all went wrong from there is a discussion for finer football analysts than me. It will all come out in the weeks and months to follow.
As a Liverpool fan who dislikes both Manchester United and Jose Mourinho in equal measure I’m just absolutely made up it did.
Obviously the most fun thing about this season has been Liverpool winning lots of games of football. But Manchester United’s woes have been a real weekend highlight too.
Watching a once great manager who seemed to have all the ideas suddenly have none. A master tactician reduced to men behind the ball and hoping for the best. Fans who have watched some of the finest attacking football in the world for the last twenty years suddenly having to put up with lumping it up to the big man and players who see themselves as the best in the world being asked to play like Huddersfield. Everyone at Old Trafford looked thoroughly miserable and everyone outside laughing their heads off.
In many ways it was devastating it had to end, although Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool being the side to put the final nail in the coffin was some consolation. It was great fun watching a man who once put himself second to god looking second-best week after week.
Reduced to listing past glories like a bore in the pub who claims he used to be somebody.
We’ll just console ourselves with what he has left behind: a team on 19 points less than Liverpool, having won half the number of games and conceded 22 goals more after just 17 games.
Who knows what that would have ended up had Jose been allowed to continue until the end of the season. Thirty points? Forty? Nevermind. They’ve got the fella who got Cardiff relegated in now, so I’m sure they’ll go shooting up the table…