Are things as bad as Jose Mourinho would have you believe or is there a media agenda behind his behaviour?

At the end of last season, it was obvious to Manchester United supporters that this summer was going to be a huge one for their club. Finishing second and an unacceptable 19 points behind Manchester City, first and foremost United needed to hit the ground running this summer to provide Reds fans with reasons to be hopeful ahead of the 2018/19 season. However what Jose Mourinho has portrayed to United fans in the media has only given us a sense that within the club there is a lot of negativity, frustration, and conflict.

But fans only see this through the eyes of a bloodthirsty media and only after further investigation you start to see that what we read may not be a true representation of the mood inside the United camp. Take yourselves back to the beginning of June and Manchester United made a couple of quick moves in the transfer market with the signings of Fred and Diogo Dalot respectively. At this point, along with Liverpool, United were the only team from last seasons top six who had made significant changes to their squad and everything looked rosy in the garden, with fans believing this was the start of a much-needed squad overhaul.

The next month, as expected, was to be dominated by the World Cup in Russia. During the tournament even the most pessimistic Manchester United fan would not have expected our business to have come to a standstill, more importantly neither would the manager. Whilst it is common sense that deals are harder to thrash out when players are focused on their international teams, I’m sure the Manchester United boss would have hoped more transfers could have been put in place, ready to be finalised when the World Cup came to its conclusion.

It’s clear at this point that no transfers were ready to be concluded once the competition ended. This is something that has made Mourinho cut a frustrated figure in front of the cameras and in newspaper articles during United’s pre-season tour to the United States of America. This mood displayed by Mourinho has been pretty relentless since the end of the World Cup. Let’s take a look at what Mourinho has taken exception to.

Mourinho set the tone for the tour in his first press conference by bemoaning the makeup of his squad. He claims he had too many youngsters on tour with many of those young players not even being at the club come the start of the season (due to some of them potentially going out on loan). Mourinho also suggested that the lack of first team players available to him during the tour will mean that United will find themselves behind their rivals come the new season. The manager fears because of this, United will be second favourites for the first five games of the Premier League.

“I think a team that is working for six weeks minimum(Leicester City & Brighton and Hove Albion)with all the players except one central defender and one striker that can join in the last week and probably be available… that is clear it’s a much better situation for them.”

Throughout the tour, Mourinho has taken aim at individuals once again and not been afraid to criticise where he has felt necessary. Antonio Valencia sustained an injury against Club America in the team’s first pre-season game. Later in the tour Mourinho revealed that he was not happy with the shape in which Valencia had returned to action, saying the right back had maybe “enjoyed too much holiday

The United boss has even had messages for players who played at the World Cup and yet to rejoin the squad, the Old Trafford boss hinted that he would have liked some of his players to have taken it upon themselves to return from their holidays early to help the cause. He said:

“I hope that the boys on deserved holidays take care of themselves a bit and that somebody wants to do what Rashford and Phil Jones decided to do, which is to be back a bit earlier to try to help the team because for the beginning of the season we are going to be in trouble.”

Finally, Mourinho has shown his frustration at the lack of transfer activity this summer, seemingly declaring war against Ed Woodward and the United owners. It was reported that United had five main targets at the start of the summer, but as time has gone on it looks like Mourinho will maybe only get one more player ahead of the 9th of August transfer deadline. This taking his summer signings tally to three, something that through the media, Mourinho has reluctantly accepted.

“In every pre-season, it happens the same with every club, which is the manager wants more. I’m confident I will get one, but I think two I’m not going to get, which is not a drama,”

Mourinho is experienced enough to know that this was always going to be a challenging transfer period with a World Cup and a transfer window that closes early. While he may well be frustrated he would surely not be in a job if he did not think he could be successful. Maybe he feels that by deflecting pressure from the team using the media to vent, he can buy him and the team some time ahead of the new season.

Some people have chosen to believe that it’s Mourinho getting his excuses in early ahead of a so-called “third season syndrome”. To me, it looks like the Portuguese manager has gone to his default setting of creating a siege mentality something that Sir Alex Ferguson was very good at during his reign as Manchester United manager. However many will argue that the difference with Ferguson was he seemed to have all his players onside at the time.

While it has been reported that Mourinho has created divisions within the team with his personal criticism of some players, images and individual accounts have shown there to be a good spirit amongst the squad. Players like Ander Herrera and Lee Grant have been happy to tell us that the boss has been in a much more positive mood inside the camp than maybe he has displayed through the eyes of the media.

“I can speak about what I feel in the dressing room. The manager is very optimistic, he is very happy with the team he has,” – Ander Herrera

“There doesn’t seem to be any turmoil from the inside, the manager seems happy. His demeanour around the squad seems great.” – Lee Grant

As United fans, we can’t lose sight that we will be able to put a strong competitive team out next season and therefore there is room for optimism. Most of our title challengers will have to start the season missing some of their key players too. It may help the team if Mourinho can take expectation off them and they approach this Premier League campaign as underdogs. Most importantly despite everything that has been written and shown about Manchester United, Mourinho and his players behind closed doors will be quietly confident they can have a successful season.


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