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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Jose Mourinho deserves the sack at Manchester United. Here's why

Time seems to be up for the Portuguese, who specialises in falling to so-called 'third-season syndrome' 

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan, it was certainly no chore to see Spurs dismantle Manchester United with three unanswered goals in the one-sided second half of Monday night's Premier League clash. Not least as it represented a first victory for the away side at Old Trafford for five seasons.

The signs were writ large in not only the result, but also United manager Jose Mourinho's increasingly unhinged demeanour: he is on the way out, and frankly, after the Spurs debacle, the sooner the better for all concerned. He specialises in falling to so-called 'third-season syndrome', something that has dogged his career both in England and around Europe. And it is happening again.

There is a caveat to my reasoning that it is time for him to go: despite the fact Mourinho has now held the reins at a duo of Tottenham's biggest top-four rivals, including two stints at Chelsea, offending all and sundry in those spells, I can't bring myself to hate him. He might be a complaining clown attempting to foster a siege spirit at every juncture with all the paranoid delusion of a ranting tramp, but I would take that over the sleep-inducing post-match interviews of tediously respectful managers such as Rafa Benitez, Manuel Pellegrini et al.

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To paraphrase hip-hop's angry man Eminem, in a Premier League context, it would feel so empty without Jose, something previously proven when he temporarily left the English game in September 2007, not to return for almost six years.

That said, we should probably prepare ourselves for his now almost-inevitable (second) departure, because his position at Old Trafford appears on the brink of becoming untenable.

His team selections didn't work against Tottenham, most notably dropping midfielder Ander Herrera into a three-man defence, perhaps with a mind to shackling Spurs' creative dynamo Christian Eriksen. Nice idea, no cigar: the Danish wizard whipped in the cross from which man of the match Lucas Moura made it 2-0. Herrera was hooked three minutes later, having been booked in the first half.

Rather than hold up his hands and admit those managerial failings, however, Mourinho instead chose to dedicate his post-match comments to railing against the unsympathetic press, who, he said, didn't understand that United fans don't watch television or read newspapers.

Which is rubbish, naturally, and the bottom half of the internet – where said fans habitually crow or complain the loudest – seems to back the assertion that the hardy souls who didn't depart Old Trafford early on Monday might be a little more media-savvy than the Portuguese gives them credit for.

He also shouted for "respect" from anybody listening, bellowing that he has won a total of three Premier League titles, versus the combined two of the entire division's current managerial crop. Yes, Jose, that is an indisputable fact, but none of those were at the helm of United, and the most recent triumph, with Chelsea in 2014-15, was three years ago. Football has moved on rather a lot since then. Just ask the Germany national team.

Much as he began to do when things started to fall apart during his second spell at Stamford Bridge, his style of taking aim at everybody outside the club is wearing thin. Few but the most hard-core United supporters would suggest there is any real media campaign against the Portuguese or the club – indeed, much of the noise has been as a direct result of Mourinho's moans about a lack of summer transfer activity. Spurs copped more column-inch flak for their own historically quiet summer, which hasn't seemed to have done them too much harm three games in, with a 100 per cent record.

Mourinho is now faced with a very awkward scenario, with a defence that is leaking like the clouds that so often roll in across the stereotypically rainy skyline of Manchester.

Why so awkward? Giving out about aforementioned transfers that never were causing United's defensive frailities doesn't hold as much water when two of the main players he apparently wants to ditch are signings from his time in the Old Trafford dugout: Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof. The latter's rather abject performance as a second-half substitute on Monday night didn't do the Swedish defender any favours, either. And for Mourinho, a man who has garnered a recent managerial reputation for relying on his back-line at the detriment of anything resembling ticket-selling flair, that is doubly problematic.

The only thing that might save Mourinho is United's run of eminently winnable league games: Burnley, Watford, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United and Newcastle United comprise the next five fixtures.

Failure to pick up maximum points in the majority of those matches will surely see his third Premier League stint fall to third-season syndrome – and with the rest of the big six having either recently recruited or with solidly established incumbents, it could even be the last England sees of him, for a long while, at least. The time seems to be imminent: tchau, Jose.

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