That football managers must lose is a matter of necessity; which managers lose, though, is a matter of circumstance. Jose Mourinho, above all things, is unwilling to be the victim of circumstance.
Hence the level of control he tries to exert in all aspects of management: he steadfastly refuses to leave anything to chance. It is why Bastian Schweinsteiger is the victim of his caprice. It's an odd paradox about Mourinho: he seems to need enemies to thrive, but he refuses to be challenged.
So when things are going well, Mourinho can justifiably claim credit for most of it, given that he does not indulge in the delegation that Alex Ferguson did so well in the final years of his Old Trafford reign. But the flip side is also true: when things begin to go wrong, Mourinho cops most of the criticism.
United sit eighth in the Premier League and look well off the pace set by City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, and on Thursday crashed to a fifth consecutive European defeat away from home - a dismal club record. There are, of course, extenuating factors: his squad really isn't that good. On a superficial level, he has made Juan Mata captain at United, having deemed him not good enough at Chelsea. On a more serious note, his centre-back partnership currently consists of two left-backs: one of whom is Marcos Rojo.
But given his style of management, Mourinho will always be under the microscope. And the stats show that there is a clear decline in Mourinho's career in the past year or so.
Jose Mourinho record
Consider these eye-popping stats from Oliver Kay's column in the London Times:
Of the past 13 games in which Mourinho’s teams have fallen behind, a run which only takes us back as far as September last year, every single one has ended in defeat if you include Chelsea’s League Cup loss to Stoke City in a penalty shoot-out; since the start of last season Mourinho’s record of 1.15 points per game in the Premier League (eight wins, six draws and 12 defeats) is equivalent to the tenures of Steve Bruce at Sunderland and Alex McLeish at Birmingham City.
That's incredible. Also, the teams that Mourinho has beaten in the League since the beginning of last season is far from impressive, either:
Not exactly the kind of wins that would back up Ed Woodward's assertion that United have hired the best manager in the game.
Mourinho's record after 16 games at United is worse than both David Moyes' and Louis Van Gaal's. Mourinho has eight wins, three draws and five defeats. Van Gaal had eight wins to go along with four draws and defeats, while Moyes had nine wins, four draws and three defeats.
And to add insult to injury, should United lose to Swansea tomorrow, it will mark their worst-ever start to a Premier League season. Having led Chelsea to their worst-ever start last season before getting the bullet, Mourinho would be the first manager to lead two separate clubs to their worst-ever starts in consecutive seasons.
Mourinho will need time to mould the squad as he likes it, but those stats above give the feeling that Mourinho is in danger of being left behind. A victim of circumstance at last?