TV View: Joséxit looms large after another dismal night
Enjoyment at a premium as Mourinho's United look far from special
José Mourinho’s Manchester United were held to a dismal 0-0 draw by Valencia at Old Trafford. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
It was around three hours before kick-off when Sky Sports News’ Jim White breathlessly announced there was breaking news from Manchester and that James Cooper, who was hovering in the general vicinity of Old Trafford, would deliver it to us. When Jim handed over to him he was clutching a piece of paper and it was all beginning to feel highly ominous.
Joséxit? “I have here,” said James, “. . . Jose Mourinho’s programme notes for tonight.” And in them he called on his players to work hard.
Between now and the day Jose finally departs, whether that be this afternoon or May 2036, there’ll be a lot of this. ‘BREAKING: Mourinho buys packet of chewing gum for 87p in Wilmslow corner shop’ and the like. We may even lose the will to live, although just watching José’s current XI play football has probably had much the same effect on those looking on.
Liam Brady wore the appearance of a man who was anticipating United’s latest outing with much the same levels of enthusiasm he might possess ahead of, say, a root canal, Richie Sadlier looking marginally less cheery. But Damien Duff, while not exactly declaring José blameless, gave 110 per cent in his lonely efforts to defend his former gaffer.
“Players can hate their manager but they can still run,” he said, which wasn’t an unreasonable point, Damo then reminiscing fondly about his time at Chelsea under José. “He screamed at me two inches from my face, but it didn’t make me not love him any more, I adored him,” he said, “he was the best coach I had by a mile.”
Liam and Richie, though, wondered if he was yesterday’s man, his inability to handle today’s players the root of his problem. It was a point echoed by Keith Andrews over on Virgin Media, suggesting even he plays like a drain, Paul Pogba’s 30 million social media followers make him an invaluable asset to United. Graeme Souness, who possibly thinks Instagram is a speedily delivered message by a pigeon, sizzled.
But Niall Quinn reckoned Jose’s time was up. When he talks, he said, he has the look of a fella who’s thinking “I’m a dead duck”, and he also noted that he’s still living in a Manchester hotel, rather than creating a homely nest for himself in the region, which suggested a lack of commitment to his latest project. (Mind you, which one of us wouldn’t opt for around-the-clock room service if we could afford it?)
Niall recalled that the only manager he ever sacked was Steve Bruce, but the availability of Martin O’Neill made the decision easy, because he wasn’t in employment no compo would have to be paid. José, he suggested, is in a perilous position because a top class manager with an impressive CV is currently free. Thomas Bjorn? No. “Zinedine Zidane.”
Back on RTÉ they were showing us the net spend of Fergie Ferguson’s successors:
Moysie Moyes: 77 million
Louis: 351 million.
Jose: 432.1 million.
“You could go double on that again,” said Damo, reckoning the 860-ish million had not been spent entirely wisely.
Over on BT Sport Gary Lineker was trying severely hard to get Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves up for the game, with no success at all. Scholesy has had enough, José’s “mouth is out of control” he said, Rio’s heart is in smithereens and Owen is at a loss to understand why Alexis Sanchez has turned in to Gabriel Obertan.
And then Des Kelly had a quick chat with Jose. This “bravery” business, ‘how does it manifest itself?”
“It’s the desire to go through that tunnel on to the pitch,” said José, bravery being the willingness to leave the dressingroom and take to the field. Scholesy’s face said “WTF?” What was needed against Valencia? “None of this flicky flicky business,” said Rio. Prediction? “2-1 United,” he said. Scholesy? “I’ve absolutely no idea.”
Team news. Which is always exciting because you get to find out who’s the latest player José player has fallen out with. Eric Bailly in, so Victor Lindelof must have seriously dirtied his bib.
First half. Come the break all Rio could do was salute the lads for “eh … working hard”, whole Owen doffed his cap to Rashie Rahsford for “trying”. Scholesy? He just wanted to go home.
Second half. Ah stop.
James Cooper is, you’d guess, warming up his microphone as we speak. It won’t be a bulletin about the purchase of chewing gum in Wilmslow either. The Special One, it would seem, isn’t special any more. Joséxit.