All is not well at Old Trafford. Or is it?
Manchester United are growing increasingly concerned that Jose Mourinho will resign at the end of the season.
According to the Daily Mail’s Matt Lawton (one of the most reputable sports reporters in the business and the one who broke the Romelu Lukaku to United story in the summer), fears over the Portuguese coach’s future at the club have intensified in recent weeks, with observers indicating that Mourinho is cutting a detached and unhappy figure at the club.
That’s one story. The other, coming from The Daily Telegraph’s James Ducker (another reporter with considerable connections to United), is much more upbeat on Mourinho’s future. Ducker states that United have conducted extensive talks with Mourinho over extending his contract. According to the report, talks over an extension accelerated last month and United are taking Mourinho’s enthusiasm to enter into negotiations as a sign that he sees his future at Old Trafford.
Lawton’s report claims that Mourinho’s reluctance to a permanent residence in Manchester has led to consternation behind the scenes. Despite being appointed United boss 18 months ago, Mourinho has not yet bought a house in Manchester and continues to stay in a hotel in the city while making frequent trips back to his family home in London.
While his living arrangements are one thing, there is simmering tension between Mourinho and members of the hierarchy over United’s recent recruitment. The former Chelsea boss was said to be furious that United failed to secure the signing of Danny Rose from Tottenham in the summer, with his dissatisfaction coming through in a recent press conference during which he said that the club’s spending was ‘not enough.’
There is also unrest over Mourinho’s recent comments towards Paul Scholes. The manager’s decision to publicly bite back at the club legend perhaps wasn’t the greatest move in terms of maintaining popularity, but the club are beginning to feel it is symptomatic of Mourinho’s growing disconnection.
Implying that Scholes was jealous of Paul Pogba because of the Frenchman’s extravagant salary was wide of the mark and has not helped Mourinho’s image.
It remains to be seen whether or not Mourinho will still be at the Old Trafford helm come the start of next season. While results have undoubtedly improved since Louis van Gaal’s reign, there is still a considerable distance to make up if United are to catch Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Mourinho has never stayed at a club longer than three years but the fear that he will leave United after two is real. There is no suggestion that he is desperate to leave, but the reportedly prevailing feeling of discontentedness may contribute to a premature departure. Paris Saint-Germain has been mentioned as one of the most likely destinations for Mourinho, should he leave.
It’s difficult to know what to think at this stage. We’ve had two reports from two reliable journalists with starkly contrasting diagnoses of Mourinho’s current situation at Old Trafford. It’s highly unlikely that the he would agree a contract extension if he is seriously considering an exit. Then again, it’s difficult to really know what’s going to happen in the future. Mourinho may sign a contract extension but lose the dressing room later in the season, an event which would likely prompt his departure.