Mourinho losing the plot
Mourinho must change abrasive style or risk losing Old Trafford dressing room
NORTHAMPTON v MAN UNITED
(Tomorrow, 2.40am, Singtel TV Ch 109 - Eleven)
As the defeats unexpectedly pile up, they tighten the screw on the man in English football's hottest seat.
Already, Jose Mourinho's composure has started to fray.
At Old Trafford, the finger-pointing game has begun, even by his standards, way ahead of schedule.
Four months into his Manchester United tenure, there are already hints of a fracture in the camp.
The man who lost two dressing rooms in a row is showing no apprehension about losing a third.
After a shock 3-1 defeat by Watford last Sunday, he singled out Luke Shaw for criticism, questioning the 21-year-old left back's "mental and tactical attitude" despite the player having suffered a recurrence of a groin injury.
FEELING THE HEAT: The Manchester United players, including Luke Shaw (third from far right) have come under fire from their manager Jose Mourinho.
He said, after the club's third loss in three games: "Today for the second goal, (Nordin) Amrabat on the right side, our left back is 25 metres (away) from him, instead of five metres.
"But even at 25 metres, you have to jump and go press. But no, we wait."
According to a report in The Times, the United players were "shocked" by his treatment of a defender playing through the pain barrier.
The Special One has committed a football manager's biggest sin: Making a public scapegoat out of his player.
Shaw, however, is not the first to incur the spiky Portuguese's wrath this season, although it had previously taken on subtler forms.
Earlier this month, after their 2-1 Manchester Derby defeat, he said that "sometimes players disappoint their managers".
He didn't name any players, but it was pretty clear who he was referring to in a match which he took off Jesse Lingard and new signing Henrikh Mkhitarayan at half-time.
There was also the dramatic triple substitution of Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford during their 1-0 defeat by Feyenoord Rotterdam last week, a move which looked designed to show his unhappiness at the players as much as it was for tactical reasons.
"Ibra is a cone. People talk about his stats... but he’s a cone. When you see Zlatan’s matches, it’s not possible to do that. It’s English football, it goes at 2,000 kilometres an hour." — Christophe Dugarry on Zlatan Ibrahimovic (above)
He risks losing his players' respect.
His past experiences suggest that, in order to succeed in restoring Man United to their former glory, he will first have to take the battle out of his own dressing room.
He must soon realise that his abrasive management style has to move with the times.
The toxic atmosphere he created at Real Madrid culminated in his exit in 2013. By the time he left, his relationships with the well-respected Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos had irrevocably broken down.
His next assignment, a second spell with Chelsea, began promisingly but the kingdom crumbled just as spectacularly as the last.
It started with underlying tensions but soon escalated into mayhem. The open hostility with players saw him accuse them of betrayal and hold them accountable for tactical leaks.
When his sacking finally came, Stamford Bridge heaved a sigh of relief.
At a club as proud as United, and where the appointment of Mourinho was widely seen as an awkward marriage, Mourinho will find himself under even more scrutiny ahead of their League Cup third-round tie at League One side Northampton tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The Red Devils already knew what they got themselves into when they handed Mourinho the reins. They would have expected a fair share of conflicts and brushes with the authorities.
But fighting a war in their own backyard isn't part of the package.
If Mourinho turns out to be the old dog who can't learn new tricks, then his dream job is set for a disastrous end.
I think he’s lost the plot. He believes he has become more important than the team. Tactically, I think he doesn’t put anything in place. He always blames the referee or their opponents’ good fortune. There is no self-criticism.
— Former France international Christophe Dugarry on Jose Mourinho
COBBLERS TURN SIGHTS ON RED DEVILS
PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES
Northampton have turned their attention to tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) glamour tie against Manchester United after banning all discussion about the match for the past month.
Mentioning the visit of Jose Mourinho's star-studded squad to Sixfields was prohibited by Cobblers boss Rob Page (above) immediately after the draw almost four weeks ago.
The manager had wanted the players to focus on their four League One matches and prolonging the club's long unbeaten run in the meantime.
Although Northampton suffered their first loss in 32 league matches at the hands of by Page's former club Chesterfield on Saturday, he is keen to see his players address the mistakes they made at the Proact Stadium against Mourinho's men.
"We've been looking forward to this fixture since the draw was made," said the Welshman. "As a player, coach or manager this is why you play the game. You want to be involved in big games against the biggest sides and this game certainly falls into that category.
"But I banned the players from talking about it as we had to focus on the league games in hand.
"I didn't want to take the focus off the league campaign and we've had two wins since the draw was made and some great results in the league, which has been our focus.
"It was a disappointing result for us (on Saturday)so we need to put things right and get back the aspects of our game that were missing, which we've had for most of the other matches so far this season.
"We need to make sure we've addressed it ready for Wednesday because, whatever side Manchester United put out, it will be very difficult for us."
Northampton midfielder Kenji Gorre, who scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out victory over West Brom in the previous round, was on the books at United as a teenager and Page admits the 21-year-old is excited about the prospect of facing the club.
"He is looking forward to it, of course he is," he said. "All the players are, but when you've been associated with a club in the past, it always means that added something.
"He was excellent against West Brom and showed true character to take that winning penalty.
"No doubt, yes, he's looking forward to the game." - PA Sport.