Poor Jose Mourinho, he’s won everything there is to win in club football, he’s got more money than he knows what to do with and he’s managing the one club he’s always coveted. Yet he looks as if he’s just been told he has to go on a lads’ holiday with Arsene Wenger.
Holed up in his hotel, alone without his family and finding life at Old Trafford tough, Mourinho seems to be miserable. For most of us living in the penthouse suite of a five-star establishment would be heaven, for the Portuguese it’s a “disaster.” That’s the sort of candor he usually reserves for speaking about the performance of the referee and it hints at someone who isn’t enjoying life.
But is that really any shock? If you’ve spent your entire managerial career squeezing the life out of football, is it any surprise when football then squeezes the life out of you?
Part of Mourinho’s makeup, and other managers who see football as a game of denial and defense rather than expression and excitement, is that of having a siege mentality. Only Mourinho could be at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, three of the biggest clubs in the world with mountains of money to spend, and still claim to be up against it; that referees, the media, fans and governing bodies are somehow always against him and his team.
With some managers, such talk is simply a way to deflect attention from poor results, but with Mourinho you get the sense that he really believes it. He’s like the multi-millionaire businessman who, despite the mansions, fast cars, access to power and wealth beyond the 99 percent’s dreams, bizarrely always sees himself as the victim - it’s a mentality that that is as telling as it is perverse.
Before United’s draw against Burnley on Saturday, Mourinho once again indulged in a woe-is-me moment, saying: “some clubs get time but with others you demand immediate success of the clubs and the managers. That’s Manchester United and Jose Mourinho.” While the need for success at Old Trafford is a given, such is the nature of modern-day football that any manager without a win in a month is suddenly under pressure. Whether Mourinho admits it or not regarding the need and desire for success, United are very much the rule rather than the exception.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho looks across the pitch before the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Manchester United at Vicarage Road in London, Sunday Sept. 18, 2016. (AP)