All of the surly portents of a typical Jose Mourinho third season appear to be in place, as the Man United manager drags his club into a season swinging punches against his bosses and his rivals.
Mourinho has been cast in particularly irascible fashion ahead of Friday's opening game, fretting about injuries and a lack of training time while openly saying that he handed Ed Woodward a list of five targets months ago. Ahead of tomorrow's deadline, it looks increasingly like Mourinho won't get his men. Given Mourinho's previous record in third seasons at clubs - sacked twice by Chelsea - things don't augur well for United.
Speaking to Balls at the launch of Sky Sports' Premier League coverage, Chris Kamara believes that United fans should "wait and see" as to how things will play out, adding that Mourinho might walk away if he doesn't win the title this year.
You have to wait until it kicks off. I’ve seen teams have brilliant pre-seasons and then when you start it’s not great. From the outside looking in, I agree with you. Manchester United fans, if you talk to any of them, are all the exact same. Never massive fans of Pogba, but now that there is talk of him leaving, they are saying, ‘He better not leave! That’ll be the final nail in the coffin for Jose.
So it's damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But it will have to be a wait and see for Man United fans. The one thing about Jose is that he's won the title at every club he’s managed. This is his third season at United, and knowing him as well as I do, if he doesn’t win it this season he’d probably leave anyway.
Elaborating on the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" line, Kamara reckons that Mourinho gets a raw deal from fans and media that other managers.
It’s strange these days. Someone like Rafa Benitez can say what he likes, and it's his chairman that gets the blame, whatever happens. If Jose says something, it’s Jose moaning.
It’s just the way it is with him. It seems to be that he is the final say, no matter what he says. If Sir Alex had a go at his Man United board, every Man United fan would back him to the hilt. If Jose has a go at the players, he’s wrong. If Jose has a go at the board, he’s wrong.
I’m biased as he is a friend of mine. People don’t really know the real Jose Mourinho. I don’t deal with Jose as the manager of Manchester United I deal with Joe as a friend. As the manager of Manchester United, he may well be different to the person I know.
Elsewhere, Kamara did not demur from the expectation that Man City will retain their title, although did wonder if Liverpool's aggressive and successful approach against City in last season's Champions League will convince others to adopt a similar style. "People will have seen that when Liverpool went for the jugular in the Champions League, we saw a different Man City. So there might be a change in focus by some teams, rather than sitting back and off them".
Kamara also agreed that Liverpool are the best-placed to challenge City.
Liverpool have done the best business. They have strengthened their weaknesses. Klopp has tried his best to give both goalkeepers an opportunity. He probably gave them more than they deserved. Both, in a small way let him down so he has put that right. He has also signed another centre half: Lovren did great at the World Cup and has been playing better alongside Van Dijk.
As for Kamara, he will back alongside Jeff Stelling and co. on Soccer Saturday from this weekend. The same old faces will return - "If it isn't broke, etc" says Kamara, pointing out that the show remains one of Sky's most-watched programmes - although said he expected Mick McCarthy to return again, having made an appearance last weekend.
Mick will be involved midweek I suppose, if he doesn’t get a job. He loves his football and wants to keep his face around. He was harshly dealt with at Ipswich. He didn’t get the money Roy Keane and Paul Jewell got. It was sad to see how they told him he was leaving. It became a slow death and in the end he snapped. Of course he was right [to leave as he did] but he will be back in management, as it's in his blood.
Sky Sports will show 159 Premier League matches this season, including Saturday 3pm kick-offs exclusive to Irish viewers. The first round of 31 fixtures kicks off this Friday night on Sky Sports Premier League and NOW TV.
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