Mourinhos Jekyll and Hyde behaviour can be entertaining but also damaging and tedious. He must show at Manchester United that he can withstand a storm
Football is full of different characters but there are perhaps none who have a split personality quite like Jos Mourinho, as I can testify from personal experience. The mind goes back to the 2014-15 season, when Chelsea won the Premier League title during Mourinhos second spell there. I had just written a column for the BBC praising Jos for bringing a spark back to the club and, as our paths crossed at the training ground at Cobham, he gave me a big hug and thanked me for the kind words. There was a smile on the managers face and a twinkle in his eye.
Fast forward to the following season and around the time the Eva Carneiro affair was taking hold. Once again Jos and I crossed paths at Cobham; he was leaving the media room as I was entering it to do some media for Chelsea TV. Hi boss, I said as we met. Mourinho practically blanked me. No words this time, no pleasantries, and the type of look that screamed: What are you doing here?
In my view, when things are going well for Jos and people are saying nice things about him he becomes the most likable guy in the room. But when the pressure is on and things are starting to go badly a completely different person comes across an edge takes over and, as we are seeing currently, he resorts to reminding everyone of his past success in a bid to deflect from current failures. Or perhaps, to put it more accurately, to remind everyone how great he once was.
Mourinho in this moment seems insecure and during his time as a manager that insecurity has led to some real Jekyll and Hyde behaviour. Now its the turn of those at Manchester United to experience it. It can be entertaining but also damaging, for Mourinho as much as anybody because by constantly banging on about what he achieved in the past he is bringing into sharp focus the fact he is not doing it now. Imagine if every time Manchester City lost a game Pep Guardiola went on about what he won at Barcelona? It would get very tedious very quickly, and that is what is happening with Mourinho at United.
Saying that, I think the club should stick with him and Mourinho can show, for perhaps the first time in his career, he is the type of manager who can withstand a stormy period. The next few weeks are going to be interesting, especially if the pressure around the manager does not subside. That can happen in two ways if the team keep winning and he calms down. For Uniteds sake, both of those things need to take place as quickly as possible.
Thinking back to how it fell apart for Mourinho at Chelsea, I do have some sympathy for him. At most clubs it is the manager who determines the long-term stability of the players but at Chelsea it seems very much the other way round.
On the whole the players are good guys – humble, keen to succeed but they are also sensitive to managerial styles and when one gets stale, or simply no longer suits, there develops a real agitation for change.
Take, for example, the way Eden Hazard told Mourinho he was injured and had to come off in the defeat at Leicester in December 2015 that led to the manager being sacked, or the way the same player made clear last season he was not happy with Antonio Conte deploying him as a striker against Manchester City. The big players historically hold a lot of influence at Chelsea and while I would never doubt their attempts to win matches for the club, their levels undoubtedly change depending on how they feel about a manager at the time. Theyre either having him or theyre not, and once theyre not it spells borrowed time for the guy in charge.
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