Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho can be “impossible” as a winner or loser, admits Gary Neville, with his reaction to a Champions League victory over Juventus considered to be a positive display of “passion”.
The Portuguese has faced criticism for his antics following a dramatic 2-1 Champions League victory for the Red Devils in Turin, with the former Inter boss having taken to the field at the final whistle to taunt former rivals who had been giving him grief for 90 minutes.
Paul Scholes accused the United manager of lacking class, while a number of Juventus players did not take too kindly to the actions of a man who has already had his run-ins with authorities in England over his behaviour this season.
Neville, though, claims to have loved the outpouring of emotion from a born winner, with Mourinho a divisive character who has spent his entire coaching career to date being lauded by those he works alongside and derided by those he enters into competition with.
The former United defender told Sky Sports: “Some people might may not like that but I love that about him.
“I think there should be reaction and passion at the end of a match. I even like his reaction at the end of the game against Newcastle, which the FA have appealed against.
“To me, Jose's best qualities were always that he was impossible when he was losing and impossible when he was winning and it was always enthralling to watch and he always brought everyone along the line.
“When I think of him in the press conference after the Juventus game and some of the one liners he came out with, compared to where he was a few weeks ago, and the day before the Newcastle game, that's a massive difference. He has hung in there and shown determination.”
Prior to the aforementioned meeting with the Magpies, Mourinho – who has now overseen three successive victories in all competitions – was facing uncomfortable questions regarding his future.
Neville added: “It was getting close, it was feeling like something was happening and the world was collapsing around the team, the club, the manager and it felt like there was going to be a change, and I think the Chelsea game was the big one.
“Even though you could point towards Newcastle, which was huge, nearly winning at Stamford Bridge and getting within a second of winning will have given the players confidence and since then they have grown and grown.”
While United have improved since stumbling out of the blocks in 2018-19, Neville admits there is still much work to be done, starting with a derby date against arch-rivals City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
He said: “The performances are still not wonderful. I thought they played quite well against Juventus but the big thing is they have this resilience and doggedness which is a great quality to have.
“We are not watching Manchester United at their free-flowing best, we are not watching Manchester United play anywhere near 100 per cent, but what we are seeing is they are hanging in games where they are getting outplayed and they are hanging in there at moments when they are getting outplayed.
“Against Bournemouth, they could have been 3-0 down after the first 20 minutes but it was only 1-0. Things like that happen and then what they do is play in moments. They come alive in moments in games. Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, or one of the other players, come alive and deliver a moment that means they are getting goals.
“That is what's happening at the moment and it will be building confidence and belief and keeping the clouds away.”