The third season curse came back to haunt Jose Mourinho. The man formerly known as the Special One seemed to be making strides at Old Trafford, following a Europa League win with a runners-up spot in the Premier League last season, but the pressure was apparently over mounting.
After the win against Fulham on December 8, Mourinho’s odds of being sacked eased but he was still the most likely manager to be fired according to bookmakers. Placing a bet at top betting sites used to wield a rate of 11/4, a quote that makes him favourite. Roy Hodgson is next in line at 3/1 with most firms while the form of Sean Dyche’s team has him placed third in the sack race at 9/1.
A title push has already been ruled out following a nightmare start to our domestic campaign and Mourinho cuts a sorry figure on the touchline these days as he watched his side fail to win ten of their first 17 league matches.
Stats of 7-5-5 has Man Utd placed sixth in the pecking order at the time of writing, already 19 points off the pace set by a Liverpool side who are showing no signs of slowing down, including their latest win vs united as we speed towards 2019. That crushing 4-1 win over lowly Fulham at the Theatre of Dreams filled fans with hope for the weeks ahead but the rare cheer came on the back of three draws and it’s that inability to finish teams off from a winning position that has caused unrest amongst our support.
A section of the stands believe they have saw enough from Mourinho already this term and we should cut our losses before it’s too late, allowing any new face to spend money in the January transfer window. It was true Mourinho looked to be skating on thin ice earlier in the campaign when stuck down the league and toiling in the Champions League, but that part is now over.
If not replacing their manager at a huge cost, could bringing in help prove the solution? We are reportedly in the market for a Director of Football to help spread the load, giving future managers more time to work on stamping out the recurring mistakes. More time spent on the training field has to be a good thing for all concerned and it could also mend a gap that has opened between the gaffer and a few of his high-earners.
For examples of just how effective a modern take on recruitment can be, we need only look at what’s going on at Arsenal since Arsene Wenger’s departure. Raul Sanllehi was brought in from Barcelona as part of a restructuring programme, originally filling a post titled head of football relations before taking up the position Director of Football. The improvement in decision making has been instant.
Sven Mislintat also enrolled as chief scout, having formerly been employed by Borussia Dortmund. Some of his success stories so far include helping pave the way for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele and Shinji Kagawa and his presence at the Emirates will only help them expand their knowledge of European football, particularly rising stars.
Back at United and there’s a feeling that the leaking of cash must stop before it gets out of control. We have thrown money at our problems since Sir Alex Ferguson left and it has bought nothing but bad luck with the supposed big names failing to make the impact hoped for. Mourinho himself has spent millions without too much success and it’s whispered he remains in a job because sacking him would prove too costly, given the time left on his contract.
If that’s true or not, the club as a whole – from the board down to the manager – must get a grip of the situation and they appear to have realised that, reigning in their spending during the summer, Fred the main purchase and seen as a bit of value.
Lastly, and away from the footballing side of things, Mourinho certainly felt uneasy at the ownership issues at the club. Off the field of play and the Man Utd brand continues to strengthen with the stock market value positive, but it’s believed the man behind that success, Ed Woodward, isn’t exactly what you’d call a football-minded CEO. That could make for further hurdles down the line.