• Home
  • /
  • Football
  • /
  • Man United Fans Shouldn't Be Shocked, Mourinho Said It Would Be This Way

Man United Fans Shouldn't Be Shocked, Mourinho Said It Would Be This Way

Man United Fans Shouldn't Be Shocked, Mourinho Said It Would Be This Way
By Maurice Brosnan
Share this article

Just 22 months after his appointment, Manchester United fans have slowly begun to cast a skeptical glance towards their manager. The Old Trafford faithful, who emphatically demanded Jose Mourinho's predecessor 'attack! attack! attack!' have by-in-large demonstrated stark patience with a restricted playing style. However, in recent weeks the Stretford End has begun grumbling and fans have started complaining.




Already, Jose Mourinho has won a Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield as Manchester United manager while a second place finish is almost assured. An FA Cup semi-final awaits this weekend. The results he consistently guarantees across his reign have been, to a certain extent, forthcoming. Because for Jose Mourinho that all that matters; results. The be all and end all. To bemoan his inability to extract the best out of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez is to ignore his own mantra which he has explicitly outlined across 18 years of management.

In the first phase of construction, we never played from our midfield powerhouses because [Ajax] were too dangerous if they catch balls high. They did not win a single ball in our midfield like that. If the ball is not there, what will they press?

In a final there is a different tension and, regardless of the experience of the players, they will think less, so someone already has to have thought for them before to feel freer. What matters is the team staying comfortable. We prepare for the game better when we know our own weaknesses. The game may not have been the most memorable, or the most exciting for the neutral, but ultimately United's name will forever remain engraved on the trophy. Everyone said that Ajax was pretty, and that it matters a lot about the beauty of the game, and blah blah blah. It is beautiful for me not to give the opponent what he wants.

Jose Mourinho, Europa League Final, Tribuna Expresso, 2017 

In the aftermath of Manchester United's Europa League triumph, Mourinho outlined to Tribuna Expresso the tactics he utilised to overcome the Dutch outfit. The prerogative was very clear; do not pass the ball to your midfield. A middle-trio of Herrera, Pogba and Fellaini were instructed to press, sit deep and were then bypassed when the side regained the ball. We know all of this because Mourinho regularly tells us.

It's a prominent and preferred tactic of Mourinho's. The trivote. Three hard-pressing centre midfielders significantly more effective without the ball than with. Dejan Stankovic – Esteban Cambiasso – Thiago Motta. Makélélé - Essien - Lampard. Lass Diarra - Xabi Alonso - Sami Khedira.


The premise is simple. Mourinho's teams are not trying to score, they are trying to not concede. By ceding position to the opposition, it increases the possibility of them making a mistake. Once a mistake is made, correct capitalisation should result in a goal.

It's the approach of a match that's 0-0, which looks set to finish 0-0, and then, in a moment of frustration for the opposition, you risk trying to win. You can lose or draw 0-0, which is the most logical. But you have a plan that the referee hasn't let you carry out. And I continue with the same question. Why?

Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid v Barcelona,  2011, translation via 'The Special One'


In the midst of an orchestrated campaign against referees as Real Madrid boss, Mourinho described a 0-0 draw as the 'logical' result.


The 1-0 is perfect. As Real Madrid TV captured during his stint in the Spanish capital, Mourinho boasted of such during a training ground encounter with Diego Maradona.

Mourinho: "I score and I win”

Maradonna: "Sure."

Mourinho: "And another thing – you score and you don’t know if you win!”

Mourinho, 2011

Mourinho is not modest and his record does not require him to be. Right alongside his rigid tactical outlook, a fundamental tenant of his career has been his boastfulness. The difference between his regular tirades against referees, his staff, governing bodies or his players in post-match interviews and conferences and his revelations about his tactical approach is that the latter is tangible, we see the evidence of his self-confessed approach on the field.

We didn’t want the ball because when Barcelona press and win the ball back, we lose our position – I never want to lose position on the pitch so I didn’t want us to have the ball, we gave it away, I told my players that we could let the ball help us win and that we had to be compact, closing spaces.

Inter Milan v Barcelona, 2010

This theme has not wilted in his current position. After last season's 1-0 victory against Benfica, Mourinho made a point of praising his approach.

We were in control, David De Gea did not have one save to make. I never felt we could concede a goal and were solid defensively. Sometimes I feel being good defensively is a crime, but that is a way of getting results.

Man United v Benfica, 2017 

There was something significant in the date of David Moyes sacking as United boss. The stench of inevitably lingered over Manchester for months as the bland, cross-saturated brand of football showed no signs of improvement. The comical freefall saw them cemented to seventh. However, Moyes' day of reckoning came after a 2-0 loss against Everton. It was also the day Manchester United were mathematically out of the Champions League race.

This was a clear message by the Glazer hierarchy and Ed Woodward; the end result, Champions League qualification and the substantial windfall that guarantees are the sole priority. In their corporate world style is irrelevant and tactics trivial. Jose Mourinho's contract extension until 2020 is indicative of that. The result is all that matters.

The fans may be surprised by the approach brought by Mourinho, but they shouldn't be. This is his mode, he has never pretended to be anything else.

SEE ALSO: Ten Years Later, Arsenal Fans Have Turned On Jack Wilshere

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com