José Mourinho defends his tenure at Manchester United
‘I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes’
José Mourinho has rejected criticism of his time as Manchester United manager. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
José Mourinho has rejected criticism of his record as Manchester United manager, saying people do not know what went on “behind the scenes”.
The Portuguese was sacked as United manager last month, with the team since going on to win six straight matches under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
But Mourinho, whose departure after two-and-a-half years in charge came amid reports of player unrest and a falling-out with France midfielder Paul Pogba, said on Bein Sports: “Sometimes we comment on what we see, but we don’t know what is behind the scenes and influences what we see. I think that is a fundamental thing.
“If I tell you for example that I consider one of the best jobs of my career [was] to finish second with Manchester United in the Premier League, you say ‘This guy is crazy – he won 25 titles’. But I keep saying this because people don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. Sometimes we, on this side of the camera, analyse things with a different perspective.”
Mourinho said he was “too young” to consider retirement and insisted he still belonged at the top level.
“I want to coach,” he said. “I am too young, I am in football for a long, long time, but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks and am really too young.
“Where I am going to stay is where I belong, I belong to top football. I belong to top-level football and [that] is where I am going to be.”
Mourinho was speaking in a role as a pundit for coverage of the Asian Cup, which he said was “very interesting” to experience a different view on “the new football” as part of a “learning process . . . to be richer”.
The 55-year-old also defended himself against suggestions his teams played negative football, pointing to his track record of success across some of Europe’s leading clubs.
“One thing is image, another thing is communication, another thing is good structure behind, another thing is to win and get results,” the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss said.
“It is very easy to play well and not win, it is very easy to be behind a certain idea of a certain football without results.
“The people that win and the people that win consistently – because you can win isolated and then disappear – has obviously a different idea about that.
“If you speak about [Pep] Guardiola, [Carlo] Ancelotti, about one where obviously I belong, that have a career of victories for a long, long period, where are the young ones with a real impact in terms of results? Where are they?”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Qatar-based broadcaster, Mourinho gave his views on the need for a structure to help deal with relationships between players and manager.
“The phrase I kept with me from Sir Alex Ferguson was, ‘the day a player is more important than the club, goodbye”. Not anymore, not anymore, because there are many things behind which is difficult to create the situation so linear,“ he said.
“So I think the way to do it is for the players to find a certain balance and the balance has to be created in the relationship between the players and the manager.
“The manager is there to coach them, the manager is not there to keep the discipline at any cost.
“The structure must be made, the structure must be there to protect the manager and for the players to feel that everything is in place and that they are not going to arrive into a situation where they feel more powerful than they used to be.”
Mourinho continued: “We are not any more in the time where the coach by himself is powerful enough to cope and to have a relation of education and sometimes confrontation with players which are not the best professionals.
“A club must have the owner or a president, a CEO, a football director and then the manager – this is the structure that can cope with all the problems that modernity is bringing to all of us.
“For me a club must be very well organised to cope with all these kind of situations where the manager is only the manager and not the man that is trying to keep the discipline or educate the players.”