Jose Mourinho is the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ but he’s certainly not the ‘subtle one’.
The former Manchester United boss loves a feud and uses the media to send clear signals to his ‘bomb squad’, which he invariably has at each club.
At Manchester United, Luke Shaw was the most prominent member. Even by Mourinho‘s standards, his comments about the left-back’s performance against Everton in 2017 were cutting.
Mourinho took credit for Shaw’s positive performance, saying: “he had a good performance but it was his body with my brain.”
A year later, Mourinho hooked Shaw at half-time of an FA Cup game against Brighton, appearing to question the defender’s personality while carrying out his post-match media commitments.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Shaw has enjoyed his best season since moving to Old Trafford, establishing himself as England and the Premier League’s best left-back.
“It was a very hard time a couple of years back when I wasn’t playing, when I wasn’t even involved,” Shaw told BBC Sport earlier this year, speaking about his comeback.
“I always believed in myself. There were times where maybe people were thinking ‘maybe he could leave’, but I always believed that one day I would be able to fight my way back into the team and show people what my qualities are.
“I feel like I am starting to do that now but there is still more to come. I’m still quite young and have time to improve.”
Then there was Paul Pogba. In the media, Mourinho never slammed the Frenchman in the same way he outed Shaw but reports from the United camp painted a clear picture that all was not well in their relationship.
Pogba was told he would never captain United under Mourinho again during a topsy-turvy timeline before the Portuguese coach was eventually dismissed.
Whilst Pogba’s future remains clouded in doubt, Solskjaer has again shown Mourinho how to handle the World Cup winner. Amidst comments from Mino Riola and Pogba himself, the United boss has towed the party line to the media whilst conjuring performances from Pogba to benefit United. His handling of the situation has been pretty faultless.
Leopards don’t change their spots and so it’s very little surprise that Mourinho is up to his old tricks against at Tottenham. Having blasted his team for “betraying my work” last month after an inexplicable Europa League collapse against Dinamo Zagreb, Mourinho was against cryptic with his criticism after a 2-2 draw with Newcastle United.
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Tottenham had already thrown away 13 points from winning positions in the Premier League before conceding a late equaliser at St James’ Park on Sunday.
The Magpies’ late leveller saw Mourinho lay the blame at his players’ door once again. Asked why Spurs have fallen into the nasty habit of dropping points from winning positions, a trait not commonly associated with him as a manager, the Tottenham boss simply replied: “Same coach, different players.”
When pushed on that response, he typically responded: “I don’t want to say much more.”
Tanguy Ndombele was singled out last year in a similar fashion to Pogba, whilst Dele Alli and Harry Winks have seemingly been exiled from his plans too without much explanation.
Classic Jose. But for United fans, it’s an oh-so-familiar storyline that ultimately ends in disappointment and a sizeable severance package for the manager.