Mourinho: A Study of a Narcissist Manager

“A football team is like a house. A house is not just about buying the furniture. You spend money on the best possible furniture and then you are ready to live in an amazing house.” Jose Mourinho 14/12/18.

When the Glazers announced that Jose Mourinho was to take over the managerial position at Old Trafford, Bobby Charlton, Manchester United’s greatest ever player, was completely against Mourinho’s appointment. Charlton considered ‘The Special One’ to be not that special at all. The board didn’t heed his reservations and ran the club into the mess they currently find themselves in. Chelsea’s returning prodigal son had once again fallen foul of the hereditary first seen at Stamford Bridge. Jose went on a run of losing 9 of 16 league matches for the London club and was sacked in December 2015, spelling the end of his second stint at Chelsea. With this current season, his form is erratic to say the least. United are struggling to get a Europa League spot, never mind a Champions League spot. The board are nervously twiddling their thumbs with the prospect of a £12 million pay off looking more likely as the season progresses.

My Ego for a Central Defender

Some may say argue that Jose asked for a central defender during the Summer and will actively pursue the board for one in the January transfer window. However, I’m not sure on how strong his relationship is with executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodard, and indeed the Glazers. Would the board of directors sanction a large bid for a manager who could be gone by the season’s end? Having already refused to pay an obscene amount of money for England’s World Cup star, Harry Maguire of Leicester, the Glazers seem to be holding firm on not forking out for a central defender, and Mourinho isn’t impressed.

The Narcissist
Mourinho’s a narcissist in charge of one of the biggest clubs in world football with a craving for the spotlight constantly in his managerial career. I first noticed him when his club at the time, FC Porto, won the Champions League in 2004. Not because of the team, but because of the manager. After the game, he promptly removed the winner’s medal from around his neck and strode off the pitch without celebrating with the team or fans. I’d never witnessed anything like it before. It was the first of many puzzling incidents in his colourful managerial career. He regularly grabs the spotlight from those around him, as anyone with narcissistic tendencies would do. 


A Sinking Ship at United

This narcissistic behaviour has upped a level since joining Manchester United in May 2016. Mourinho’s biggest gripe at Old Trafford is ‘only’ being given £370 million or so to spend since becoming manager. His constant belittlement of his players and in particular his strained relationship with Paul Pogba has highlighted the weaknesses in his approach to management. He recently declared his fringe players as being not good enough before a game in which some senior players were being rested before a vital Champions League match. It’s hardly a great motivational tool to be lambasting the quality of talent at his disposal and is an insult to many players in the squad. As a fringe player in any team, having the backing of your manager is essential to a player’s development and confidence. 

Mark Goldbridge on United’s 2-1 defeat to Valencia.

The Academy Players Factor

Marcus Rashford is the most talented and dynamic player to have emerged from the United academy in a long time. Rashford’s constantly posed a threat with his attacking flair and eye for goal since he made his Premier League debut at the age of 18 against Arsenal, scoring a brace in a 3-2 victory. What has Mourinho done with him since then? Benched him. His undoubted quality is there, but Mourinho simply doesn’t know how to develop the now, 21-year-old. 

This is the Achilles heel of Jose Mourinho. Having never played the game at a professional level himself, he never developed an affinity with players and learned how to help them grow from academy graduates to proper players.

Mourinho is a spoilt child wanting to buy off the peg designer brands without looking at the prices or indeed seeing if they actually fit. Instead of working with what he’s got, he constantly runs to the media and whines about how Manchester City spend twice what he’s been given to spend. This is an illogical and worrying trait of his tenure as a United manager. The players brought in by Mourinho like Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba, and Alexis Sanchez, have all failed to live up to the hype surrounding them and have regularly underperformed, or in Mkhitaryan’s case, been moved on.

How Other Managers Compare

You don’t have to try and match Manchester City’s spending to develop players. Look at Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs – zero spending in the Summer and they’ve now qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and currently lie, at time of writing, third in the table and 10 points ahead of Manchester United. Our very own Jürgen Klopp has shown himself to be a master at astute signings and helping to nurture and develop players, like Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Big money signings like Virgil van Dijk and Alisson were brought in to serve a need and have dramatically improved the team. Mourinho’s signings tend to be more hit and miss. Does the narcissistic behaviour of Mourinho at Manchester United warrant a closer look at whether he should be let go before Christmas or in the in the new year? Has he done more damage than good, and is he another shipwreck about to wash up on the rocks of the Alex Ferguson legacy? 


The Modern Era
Perhaps the modern game is passing Jose Mourinho by. His lack of tolerance for the new generation of players hints at a touch of jealousy. Paul Pogba, the hottest talent in football while with Italian giants Juventus and a World Cup winner, hasn’t exactly replicated his form under Jose. Some say Pogba is sidetracked by the marketing and merchandising side of things, and it’s true that the club are delighted with the revenue the player has brought in. Pogba’s shirt sales amounted to £190 million in the first three weeks after his transfer in 2016. This speaks volumes about the way the game’s changing. The power is shifting in the modern game, which is something I elaborated on in a previous article. Mourinho resents this shift in power, knowing the player is king and the manager is replaceable, but a multi-million merchandising dream signing isn’t.

It’s nothing personal, just business. 


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