Jose Mourinho Criticises Wayne Rooney For Criticising Paul Pogba
Rising, falling and rising again; such is our understanding of Jose Mourinho's managerial career.
As assured as we are of the second-season title win and third-season blow out, the Portuguese's stint with Manchester United is set to disturb this remarkable reliability; partially, at least.
Probe the nuances of Mourinho's various jobs at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea again, and United, and it becomes clear however that despite such perceived patterns, the challenges Mourinho faces differ greatly.
With Porto, Chelsea (the first time) and Inter Milan, the remit was simple; take clubs with an impressive past, but no recent experience of success, and elevate them.
Contrary to this, his positions at Madrid and United required a bit more finesse. Working in the shadow of incredibly successful figures whose impressions were still fresh in the mind of those scrutinising his work, it is little surprise that this became so overwhelming for the Portuguese at Madrid.
At United, these very difficulties are exemplified in Mourinho's treatment of past-players and their willingness to discuss Manchester United in its current form.
While he is smart enough not to direct any ill-will toward the likes of Alex Ferguson or Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney's decision to comment on Paul Pogba's "best" position has given Mourinho ample room to remind those no longer associated with United, that he is Mr. Manchester United now:
I had a few laughs over the past week because I heard, I watched, I had a chance to read a few things and I’m not English but I understand English enough to understand what I want to say with ‘box to box.'
But with some comments from important people in football I got a little bit confused because for me ‘box to box’ means you have to be good in this box, you have to be good on this road and you have to be good in that box.
To play free of defensive duties, that’s not ‘box to box.’ That’s a box IN the box and stay in the box and doesn’t move from the box!
Never likely to subscribe to Sam Allardyce's "it's not for me to say" what Wayne Rooney should and shouldn't do, Mourinho has previously spoken out against Paul Scholes when he dared to question whether Pogba was utilised as best as he possibly could.
Amid the furore surrounding United's shambolic 2-0 loss to Spurs, and the visible disagreement shared between Mourinho and the Frenchman on the Wembley sideline, the United manager was quick to correct any impression that their relationship had become strained:
Between me and Paul there are no confusions - he is a midfield player and that's it. And it is difficult to find a midfield player with more potential than Paul has. Paul has everything.
Dropping Pogba for United's routine win against Huddersfield Town on the following Saturday, it will be intriguing to see how Mourinho chooses to use United's outstanding midfielder as they enter a very busy few weeks.