Mourinho's post-match pantomime fooling nobody: Man United fans couldn't care less about past glories

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The Manchester United manager was in full-on embattled mode following Monday's 3-0 loss and his attempt to gain favour with the fans is kidding nobody

Rather than make his customary quick exit towards the tunnel, Jose Mourinho thanked his players for their efforts and made his way to the foot of the Stretford End.

With the fans chanting "Mourinho’s red and white army" and applauding, the manager clapped them back for more than 30 seconds. When a scarf was thrown his way, he tucked it under his arm and continued his part in the mutual appreciation.

It felt in some ways like a tender moment between one man and his disciples, but in others it was exactly what we have come to expect from Mourinho. It was a show.

Knowing full well that he is beginning to lose allies left, right and centre, he has to do what he can to hold on to whatever support he can get. And that’s why he needs the Manchester United fans now more than ever after Monday’s humiliating 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham .

He also knew that a public declaration of kinship with the supporters would be the best way to ramp up the pressure on the on-looking Ed Woodward.

The executive vice-chair has few fans on the terraces at Old Trafford, and his decision over the summer to starve Mourinho of more cash to spend on the defenders United so desperately need has not gone down well with either the manager or the supporters.

But there cannot be much of Mourinho that truly feels a bond with the United supporters or else he wouldn’t have followed that show of defiance at full-time with an extraordinary press conference during which he pitted the fans against the media and once again took the opportunity to boast about the titles he won long before arriving at the Theatre of Dreams.

"With [the first] goal you want to transform the story of the game," he told the press. "But don’t waste your time because today I had the proof that the best judge in football are the supporters. They are the best judge.

"Do you know what was the result? 3-0. 3-0. Do you know what this means? [Holding up three fingers] 3-0, but also it means three Premierships, and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them."

Then, as he walked away he was blasting: "Respect! Respect! Respect, man! Respect! Respect! Respect!"

This was not the response of a man who is on the same page as Manchester United fans.

What do they care how many trophies he won at Chelsea? They care that he has contributed to a characterless shambles of a defensive unit on the field and has openly criticised directors and players alike in public over the last couple of months.

Just as the Champions League loss to Sevilla last season was not the time to boast about how many times he’d knocked United out of Europe, this was not the right moment to big up his Premier League record of yesteryear.

Luke Shaw Jose Mourinho Manchester United Tottenham 270818

Mourinho has invited the kind of spotlight which United in the past have always done their best to avoid. Far from dealing with their dirty laundry in private, the manager has exposed the club’s carcass for the rest of the world to feast off.

His attempt to curry favour with the supporters simply reflects his desperation at this point, and it is not fooling anyone.

Sure, the Stretford Enders who didn’t depart immediately after Lucas Moura made it 3-0 were in defiant mood after the final whistle, but they have gained a reputation for sticking behind their team and manager come what may in public. Unlike Mourinho, they are not usually the type to draw undue attention when things are not going to plan.

But, just as he did towards the end of his second spell at Chelsea, the Portuguese is going through a phase of grabbing every opportunity to talk about anything other than what is going wrong.

When asked what it does to natural centre-backs to be overlooked while Ander Herrera is used in the defensive line, he tried a very thinly-veiled diversion tactic. "You want to make the miracle of my team played so well, and strategically we were so, so, so, so good. And you want to try to transform this press conference in the situation of 'Let’s blame the guy'."

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But what was so great about United’s performance? Yes, the first-half display was full of purpose, energy and intensity in a way that the 3-2 loss to Brighton had not been. Yet even throughout the opening 45 minutes there were moments where the prospect of Spurs finding the right space at the right time seemed all too real.

Many onlookers asked why the word 'crisis' was being bandied about during the week following a sole defeat to Brighton, but that was to ignore the role of what Mourinho’s acts of self-sabotage had done to the mood around the club in the build-up.

Mourinho is far from the only issue at Manchester United, but the more he behaves like this, the more he becomes the biggest problem that needs solving.  He should have been backed more in the summer , and the board do seem to have priorities which don’t match with hopes of a concerted title challenge , but this squad is still a million miles away from where it should be.

With every public interview or press conference Mourinho is digging himself a bigger and darker hole, and each time he makes a baffling number of changes in key areas of the field he is inviting greater examination of his work.

Having now been spanked by Spurs the spotlight will only become more intense, and no amount of pantomime acts like the one at full-time will keep the critics at bay.

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