When Jose Mourinho speaks it is those with an agenda who make mountains out of molehills


Manchester United drew 0-0 with San Jose Earthquakes in the second pre-season match of the summer on Sunday. It was a game that had very little creativity and instead of moaning about it, so-called supporters have used it to fit their agenda of sacking the manager or moaning about him on social media, partly because of what he has said after the game. Jose Mourinho was not happy after the game, most supporters were not either but perhaps some are thinking pre-season means something else, other than it being a fitness training camp.

Some supporters are only happy when United win matches. That is starting to become tiresome as winning is not a guarantee and is not something that should be demanded. There is a distinct lack of patience when it comes to United and that is something that is going to have to give at some time, or there will be too much toxicity within the support of the club, which in the long-term will do much more damage than anything else. There are supporters on Twitter, probably Facebook too, that only care about new signings, some of them even want youth to be tested, as long as superstars are signed for the club.

This does not bear thinking about. The mentality here is flawed massively. Imagine wanting youth to be given a chance but also for superstar signings to come in. So much for giving youth a chance in that scenario. Also, some want players like Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, and Mason Greenwood to make the first team, right now, which is fair enough, but the demands some have of them is more than can be given by the player. Where has all the logic gone when it comes to supporting a football club and realistically seeing what is in front of you?

Speaking after the draw with the MLS side, Mourinho, in an interview with MUTV, who covered the match, talked about the result, performance of the players and other things. During this, the Portuguese manager uttered the words ‘we are not a team’. Of course, this is all the #MourinhoOut brigade want to see as it fits their agenda. None will have looked to see what else was said, why bother, it proves that Mourinho is not the man to lead this great club, right? There is no need for context, no need to see what else was said, this is enough. Mourinho actually said:

“We are not a team. We’re a group of players from different teams. Some are first-team, some under-23s, some coming from loans and going on loan, some are younger, under-18s. We don’t have a team to play much better than we did but [it’s] one more training session.”

Now, to add more context, United are a squad of 26 players at this moment in time. The 24-man squad which flew out to Los Angeles a week ago, plus Alexis Sanchez and Nemanja Matic, who both arrived over the weekend. Sanchez played 65 minutes in the draw, having an opportunity to score from a free-kick, going wide of the target. Matic will join the training group which could see him involved in later matches during the tour, possibly the one against AC Milan in the early hours of Thursday morning (in the United Kingdom). David De Gea and Fred will both arrive this week too, as confirmed by Mourinho.

Out of the 26 players in the training group right now, there are 13 youth players, the majority of which had not played for the first team previously. That has changed now with Tahith Chong, James Garner, and Mason Greenwood all making their debuts so far on the pre-season tour. With Mourinho saying; ‘we are not a team’, he is not being critical. This is where the continuance of what he actually said come in. Most did not look at what was said and the media will continue to drive the negative agenda they have, which in turn drives clicks to their respective websites.

For those looking, Mourinho was right in what he said. Manchester United, on this tour, is not a team. Not one that is going to do what most supporters are demanding they do, not in the short-term anyway. It is not negative what Mourinho has said, it is the truth. What he was talking about is the fact there are players from the first team, U23s, U18s, players who have returned to the club after loan spells and players who will be loaned out this coming season. That is not a team, so to speak, in this vein anyway.

Pre-season is about fitness, gelling the squad and preparing for the new season. Some supporters think that pre-season is about beating feeble competition and winning meaningless trophies which hold no regard in the world of football. Pre-season is great, apart from getting up in the middle of the night but it also allows us to see how supporters in other countries deal with things during the season proper. It is not something that I would like to do for nine months of the year, I can tell you that.

As Mourinho put it, this match was just another training session. Winning pre-season matches, you would think would set the club up for a great season. Look back to United’s first time playing in the International Champions Cup just prior to the 2014/15 season commencing. United beat LA Galaxy 7-0, winning the Chevrolet Cup in their first pre-season match, then played in the ICC for the first time, beating Roma 3-2, beating Inter Milan 5-3 on penalties (after a 0-0 draw), then beating Real Madrid 3-1, also beating Liverpool 3-1 in the final. United then beat Valencia in a friendly at Old Trafford. Great pre-season, yes?

At the start of the 2014/15 season, United lost 2-1 at Swansea City in their first Premier League match, drawing the next two against Sunderland (1-1) and Burnley (0-0), winning the fourth league game of the season, 4-0 against Queens Park Rangers, then losing again. United won six Premier League games in a row from the start of November to mid-December, gaining some momentum but then drew three out of four of the Christmas matches, losing the momentum gained prior to those fixtures. United finished fourth that season, but a good pre-season does not automatically equal a good season.

It is not the only summer United had a pre-season which would be considered as season-defining. The following season saw United back in the ICC in the USA, this time beating Club America 1-0, San Jose Earthquakes 3-1, Barcelona 3-1, losing 2-0 to Paris Saint Germain. United were back in the UEFA Champions League that season, although exiting at the group stage and eventually losing to Liverpool in the round of 16 stage of the competition. But it was the Premier League form and results that mattered here, which was the beginning of the end for Louis van Gaal.

United’s form from the end of November to the end of December was poor which resulted in the media calling for the sacking of the manager with Jose Mourinho, sacked by Chelsea on the 17 December 2015, being highlighted as the manager to replace the Dutchman. United draw with Leicester City (1-1), West Ham United (0-0), lost to Bournemouth (2-1), Norwich City (2-1), and Stoke City (2-0), then drawing against Chelsea (0-0) during the festive period, beating Swansea City 2-1 on the 2 January 2016, the first win in seven matches.

It shows that pre-season should always be about fitness and training, not about setting the team up to win, based on pre-season results, during the upcoming season. I would rather see United concentrate on fitness, training, nutrition and everything else during pre-season, with results not mattering in the slightest, heading into the season in good shape with the ability to do what is needed on the pitch, when it actually matters, rather than coming home with trophies that mean literally nothing. That might just be me but at the end of the day, winning friendly matches is not a bragging right.

Back to the topic on hand, Mourinho is right, this is not a team, it is a number of players from different United teams playing together. When the likes of De Gea, Matic, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Fred, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones, Romelu Lukaku, and Marouane Fellaini all return to the squad, it will be more of a team than it is now. United are missing many experienced players, judging the team right now is as pathetic as it is pointless.

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copyright: JW

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