Jose Mourinho’ s constant carping and foul mood during Manchester United ’ s increasingly tortuous tour of the United States is raising questions about team morale and title hopes just over a week away from the start of the new Premier League season .
Unlike rivals Liverpool and champions Manchester City, two Premier League contenders whose pre -season has included solid preparations and astute transfers , Manchester United watchers see nothing to celebrate as the 55 -year – old Portuguese manager prepares for his third term at Old Trafford .
The days when Mourinho used to poke fun at journalists with a twinkle in his eye during press conferences appear long gone, replaced by a litany of complaints as seen following the side ’ s 4 – 1 humbling by Liverpool on Saturday in their latest outing on the US tour .
Bookmakers are now taking bets on Mourinho becoming the first Premier League manager to be sacked or leave his post this season .
Reports reaching home from the US tour depict players too nervous to talk openly about what they think , with the Daily Telegraph and The Sun claiming those in the squad feel they are “ treading on eggshells ” .
The Sun cites one case of an unnamed player in a panic asking the TV channel he gave an interview to erase an answer he gave them .
“ It ’ s understood the piece of content in question wasn ’ t even contentious and could be considered ‘ on message ’ from a club point of view — but it is a measure of the tension being felt on a troubled tour , ” remarked the Manchester Evening News .
– ‘ Turning sour ’ –
Mourinho has a history of targeting specific players on occasion and Ivorian central defender Eric Bailly has been in his firing line in the United States .
“ I don’ t think he is a great leader, ” Mourinho said of Bailly while adding that newly – appointed captain Antonio Valencia ’ s physical preparation was below expectations .
“ His condition was not good when he was back , ” he said after the player returned to the squad from holiday .
He was more critical of French striker Anthony Martial , who he said should have returned to the US tour after going home to be with his girlfriend when she gave birth to a baby boy in Paris .
Mourinho’ s position was in stark contrast to England manager Gareth Southgate ’ s much – praised decision to allow Fabian Delph to leave the World Cup finals to be with his wife at the birth of their child .
Mourinho — who having guided United to Europa League and League Cup success in his first season — delivered nothing last term .
Critics suggest he is caught in a repetitive pattern seen at previous clubs where his reign turned sour in the third season .
It happened twice at Chelsea where he was sacked in the middle of his third campaign in his second spell there , and it also happened at Real Madrid.
However , Mourinho’ s biggest cause for complaint — that he has not been given the money for the signings he wanted — has won some sympathy , even from the Manchester United board despite reportedly strained relations with Ed Woodward , the executive vice -chairman .
Thus far he has bought three players including Brazilian international Fred , but Mourinho is keen to have two new faces in the squad come the opening match with Leicester on Friday week .
Ironically one of those targets is Leicester ’ s England centre – back Harry Maguire, though the 2016 champions ’ wealthy Thai owners feel they do not have to sell, particularly having accrued a club record £ 60 million ( $ 79 million ) for the sale of Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City.
Relations between Woodward and Mourinho may not be great but there is no suggestion the former wants the latter out , having last January secured his signature on a new contract to June 2020 with the option of a further year .
However , with Mourinho still preferring to live in the luxurious Lowry Hotel — where a suite costs over £ 800 a night — than buy a more permanent home , and now that his trusted number two Rui Faria , seen as a reliable sounding board as to his mood swings , is no longer at United , many are suggesting the third season curse could prevail again.
( AFP )
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