Manchester United

Should Man Utd sack Jose Mourinho? The pros and cons of dismissing crisis-hit manager

19:00 SAST 2018/10/01
Jose Mourinho Manchester United West Ham 290918
The Portuguese is fighting for his future at the moment but not everybody is convinced he should go, with arguments to be considered on both sides

Barely a single word was uttered on Valencia on Monday as Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was instead left to field countless questions about his future and the demeanour of his squad ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with the Spanish outfit at Old Trafford.

Saturday's 3-1 defeat to West Ham increased the pressure on the under-fire Portuguese, with United slipping to 10th place in the Premier League table after a shambolic showing in the capital.

But while some have claimed that Zinedine Zidane has been lined up as a potential replacement, Mourinho remains in the job for now as the Red Devils look to fight their way out of a full-blown crisis.

Is now the right time to pull the trigger, or does Mourinho deserve more time? Goal runs through the reasons why United should sack him and those why he should be saved.

  • Paul Pogba, Man Utd

    #1 SACK HIM: There's a split playing camp and he can't fix it

    The manager currently appears to have no real control over his squad thanks to his latest fall-out with Paul Pogba. Having already gone through difficulties with the likes of Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan since arriving at Old Trafford, Mourinho is gaining less and less support among the playing group with every new drama and on Saturday at West Ham they played like a team which couldn’t care less what happens to their boss as opposed to a group uniting for his and the club’s cause.

    And there's no saying whether Mourinho is the best judge of the mood among his players. As he said on Monday of the squad’s reaction in training: “I see sad people, I see people who don’t look like they lost the game, I see so-so. You can be with a very sad face, and you can be a fantastic actor and inside of you you are very happy. So sometimes what you see is not what you get.”
  • Jose Mourinho, Luke Shaw, Man Utd

    #2 SACK HIM: He is far too divisive

    Mourinho is the king of barbs and side-swipes, never stepping back from the opportunity to turn the spotlight on anyone – everyone – but himself when questions need answering. He actively pursued a rift with Iker Casillas while at Real Madrid, physically attacked Tito Vilanova in one memorable touchline altercation, landed himself in legal hot water when blaming Eva Carneiro for tending to Eden Hazard at Chelsea, and blasted United’s “football heritage” after their Champions League exit to Sevilla last season.

    The Red Devils are rapidly taking on the appearances of the sort of car wreck the Portuguese has left in his wake elsewhere, and having blamed players, board members, youth-teamers, fans and others at various points, there are few people he hasn’t yet identified in one way or another for his side’s shortcomings.

  • Jose Mourinho Manchester United West Ham 290918

    #3 SACK HIM: The negative football

    Mourinho was never going to bring a silky style of football with him, but United fans are finding very little joy in watching their side right now and it is doing him no favours as he battles for allies. He may have rode the wave somewhat after some of the Stretford Enders showed their support following the 3-0 home loss to Tottenham but good feeling is in little supply on a wider scale, and the lack of positive, imposing football is much of the reason for that.

    His football may be an improvement from the days of Louis van Gaal but not by much, and judging Mourinho by the dour Dutchman’s famed “philosophy” is no yardstick to see things by. United fans deserve to be entertained and that is simply not the case at this moment in time.
  • Jose Mourinho Manchester United 29092018

    #4 SACK HIM: His tactics are outdated

    When he set up a structured Chelsea side to be physically imposing and practical in the mid-2000s, or when setting up an Inter-shaped barricade on the way to European glory in 2010, Mourinho was presenting the cutting edge approach to taking on some of the bigger, more historic clubs in world football. But the Portuguese’s methods have changed little in the years which have followed, regardless of the power possessed by the clubs he has managed, and he now comes across as a landline in a smart-phone world.

    Where once he was the pioneer, sides have now learned how to take on and see off Mourinho’s teams but he shows little sign of wanting to move with the times and find a new modus operandi.
  • Jack Marriott Derby County Manchester United League Cup 25092018

    #5 SACK HIM: The results

    When all is said and done it will be the results which have the biggest say and right now they are far from in his favour. Were United picking up positive outcomes on the field, the various issues which have arisen behind the scenes would be comparatively inconsequential.

    However, the fact that United are 10th in the Premier League with only three wins from seven games and have already exited the Carabao Cup weighs heavily in the argument to get rid of Mourinho. Far from him putting noses out of joint in the pursuit of victories, the 55-year-old is causing chaos while also failing to find answers to United’s malaise on the pitch.
  • Paul Pogba Anthony Martial Manchester United Swansea City

    #6 SAVE HIM: Player power must not win

    Football managers are meant to be authority figures, but with every sacking comes an increased sense that they have waning power in the grand scheme of things. Having gained a reputation thanks to the wizardry of Sir Alex Ferguson that their first priority was to stand by their man, United have now become known for short-term assignments following the decisions to fire David Moyes in April 2014 and Louis van Gaal in May 2016.

    A third failed stint would only give the players even greater weight around the corridors at Carrington, and that is something United need to do their best to avoid given some of the egos involved. The tail cannot be allowed to wag the dog.
  • Jose Mourinho Ed Woodward Manchester United

    #7 SAVE HIM: Mourinho is not the start and end of United's problems

    While there is a clear issue with Mourinho, it is not United’s only area of concern right now… not by a long chalk. Bringing in a new manager will not do anything to resolve the fact that the Glazers’ takeover continues to cost the club around 80 per cent of its operating profit. It will also not address the fact that there is a serious lack of football-savvy decision-makers knocking around the club and executive vice-chair Ed Woodward gives the impression of a man out of his depth in the transfer arena.

    And similarly a change of regime will not automatically fill the gaps in United’s anaemic squad, nor will it bring the bigger names into line without the perfect appointment being made upon Mourinho’s exit. The manager has fought for more care to be placed into the upkeep of the playing staff but the board have not been willing to do that, so why wouldn’t more of the same be in store for the next incumbent without greater support from the boardroom?
  • Zidane

    #8 SAVE HIM: Can a successor be expected to make a huge difference?

    Which brings us to the replacement. United should only sack Mourinho if they are certain they can bring in an upgrade, and that is not necessarily the case right now. Of course, Zinedine Zidane’s name has been widely linked and Mourinho was even asked on Monday whether the Frenchman had called to say he was not after the United job.

    But while Zidane comes with a pedigree having won three straight Champions Leagues, he took the job at Real Madrid with a squad of superstars already waiting for him. At United he would have a promising first XI but not too much else beyond that, leaving him with a far different proposition than the one which saw him achieve unprecedented success at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    United were keen on Mauricio Pochettino before selecting Mourinho in 2016 and the Tottenham boss would be a fair target come next summer. But an immediate change in boss could rule out the Argentine, and the chance to make a considered appointment of a man who puts football first might be spurned as a result.
  • Louis van Gaal Jose Mourinho

    #9 SAVE HIM: This is hardly a surprise to United

    What exactly did United expect they were going to get when they appointed Mourinho in 2016? They sacked Louis van Gaal within 48 hours of winning the FA Cup because they wanted the closest thing they could find to guaranteed success at whatever cost.

    They knew what Mourinho had got up to in the past, but they bought into it. They knew he’d demand costly changes to the squad to get them competing, but they bought into it. They knew they risked alienating those fans who want more than anything to see flowing football, but they bought into it.

    Changing now would abandon yet another strategy – a third different vision in little over five years – and the need to develop a new one could be further damaging to a club which is desperately looking to pick a direction and stick to it.
  • Jose Mourinho Manchester United West Ham 290918

    #10 SAVE HIM: The costly pay-off

    Even if a consensus is reached that firing Mourinho is the right thing to do given the context, the Portuguese’s exit is set to cost Manchester United a huge amount of money. With the best part of two years left on his Old Trafford deal and a club option for a further 12 months, the manager stands to gain a further £33 million during his United stay thanks to his £12m agreement.

    It is believed that there is a clause in his deal though which would allow the club to pay him a £12m settlement should they decide to sack him before the end of the 2019-20 season, cutting between £9m and £21m off their total expected outlay.

    But that would mean the club having to fork out £12m to pay off Mourinho even before considering the cost of taking on a new manager’s salary and signing-on bonuses, which would make it one almighty outlay for the miserly Ed Woodward to countenance.