Evil José Part 3 - An end come too soon
'I went full José Mourinho on Football Manager 2019 and this is what happened' reaches its inevitable, heartbreaking conclusion
They say all good things must come to an end. Well, Nelly Furtado said that. Chaucer, too. But what about the bad things? What about the shithouse things? Must they leave us too?
I load the game up and see that my last result was a 2-1 defeat away at Everton, thanks to a Seamus Coleman screamer and Kurt Zouma near post header. They dominate the game and register an astonishing 37 shots on target, one more than Liverpool's own damning tally against the real life Manchester United in José Mourinho's last game.
Valencia are up next in the Champions League, opponents who have already beaten us 4-0 in the group. Because of this Evil José decides to send out a weakened team. He wants to see if the squad players can impress.
What that means is, for the first time in the game so far, something that resembles an actual normal starting 11 is played. Pogba is there, Lukaku is up front with Rashford, defenders are playing in defence and Eden Hazard, shockingly, is played in an attacking role.
United run riot.
2-0 after six minutes, 4-0 after 24, into the dressing room at half-time 5-1 up.
The squad are telling Evil José something. And do you know what? Evil José is actually listening.
Although the gung-ho approach of this United team, with actually good players playing in their favoured positions, falls apart somewhat in the second half, it's an incredible performance.
Marcus Rashford, seizing the opportunity like he had vomit on his sweater, mom's spaghetti, scores two goals in a minute, and at one point Evil José's men are, ludicrously, 7-1 to the good.
Perhaps remembering that they don't actually want Evil José as their manager, the players take their foot off the pedal. In fact, they do more than that. They take their foot off the pedal, light a cigar and steer directly into oncoming traffic. Valencia score three goals in quick succession, mostly thanks to Chris Smalling.
Alexis Sanchez comes on to score a completely meaningless goal in added time and goes absolutely fucking bonkers on his own in the corner as a result. Marlon Harewood used to do that for the Villa and I used to fucking love it, so fair play to the lad. He's earned my respect.
Evil José might be many things, including stubborn, but he isn't an idiot. And far more importantly, he likes his £190k a week job and living in a luxury hotel suite in Salford. He wants to keep his job.
With that in mind, and Tottenham Hotspur coming to town, he decides to keep the same starting XI that tore the wings off Los Murciélagos during the week.
That's Spanish for bats, by the way. That's a nickname for Valencia, by the way.
Mauricio Pochettino, the man sniffing around Evil José's job like Normal José sniffs around Serie A centre-backs in the transfer market, is kind enough not to dig the knife in when he has asked about upcoming foe's managerial struggles.
I've always liked you, Poch.
I hate you, Poch.
Spurs romp to a 3-0 lead inside 23 minutes and Old Trafford is once again stunned. In the sense that every single Man United fan felt a drubbing on the cards from the moment they woke up in the morning, and they're just surprised by how much worse it actually is.
Evil José gets his Revlon Pro Collection Salon 360 out, sets the temperature dial to max, ditto for the blow strength, and gets to work.
United respond, sort of, by getting two quick goals back before then giving up again. Spurs hold on for a comfortable 4-2 away win, and the blade dangling above Evil José's neck looks more of a health and safety violation than ever.
The next game in the league involves Burnley at Turf Moor, and as a result of that, it involving Burnley at Turf Moor, nothing of note happens in a 0-0. Nothing of note happens other than Evil José making his dream, match-altering, triple substitution of Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimović.
It has no effect.
Back in Room 101 of the Lowry Hotel that night, Evil José sees a message ding up in his inbox.
Ed Woodward wants a meeting to discuss his future.
Failure to attend will see him fired with immediate effect.
Evil José hovers over the 'Refuse to Attend' button for several minutes.
Were it not for the quality of towels, and endless supply of body lotion and hand moisturiser his room is stocked up with on an almost daily basis, he would have pulled the trigger.
Instead, he goes to the showdown in the boardroom.
He's faced with different excuses to explain the club's underperformance in the meeting. In true shithouse fashion he blames the run of fixtures that haven't actually been that tough.
Ed Woodward and Avram Glazer inform him that the fixtures haven't been that tough.
He now has three options left as his job hangs by a thread. He can beg to keep it, admit that he isn't cut out for the role, or he can tell them, in no uncertain terms, to remain patient and see the improvement in the side that is definitely, definitely, definitely, probably, maybe coming.
Evil José tells them to give him time to see results improve.
Evil José has a month to improve results or, like his real life counterpart, he will be sacked before Christmas.
Before the first in a lengthy series of must-win games, an admittedly kind away tie in the Champions League at Lokomotiv Moscow, Evil José gets a knock on his door.
It's Ander Herrera, asking for more playing time.
As Ander Herrera has never, ever let either real José or Evil José down in the 'kicking lumps out of the opposition's best player for 90 minutes' stakes, the most important stakes for a manager, he grants the Spanish Michael Brown's request without hesitation.
Perhaps sensing an opportunity for himself, Phil Jones marches in straight after, asking for more minutes of his own.
Evil José tells him to fuck off.
"Learn how to run properly you big goon and then we'll talk," he says, quietly, in Portuguese, but only after Jones gets on all fours and runs into the forest adjacent to the Aon training complex like a werewolf.
It takes exactly 96 seconds for Herrera to repay Evil José's renewed faith in him, thumping the ball top bins in the heavy Moscow rain.
Young Marcus Rashford doubles United's lead in the 10th minute, tapping in at the far-post from a teasing Salomon Kalou ball from the right. 2-0 is how it stays thanks to a tactical switch to a robust 4-4-2 formation and complete lack of any flair players on the pitch.
You can almost hear the reversing alarm of a bus backing into a depot.
Evil José keeps it that way for the next league game against Brighton & Hove Albion, who are sitting one place above United in the table. An extremely uninspiring team sheet is handed to members of the press before the game with no sign of Eden Hazard, comfortably United's best player.
Not even at right-back.
As you'd expect given the inferior opposition, Brighton come out and dominate proceedings from the start. It isn't enough, however, as an extremely questionable Kalou penalty gives United a frankly laughable lead.
Two shots on goal, one of them being from the penalty that wasn't a penalty, 31% possession at home and a Lee Cattermole yellow card in the second minute; it's music to Evil José's ears.
And it sounds like fucking Mozart.
Things get even better when, having not had a single attack in the second half, Evil José elects to bring on his two lumbering war elephants, Matic and Fellaini, bang on the 60th minute.
Somehow, they combine to immediate effect as Fellaini, playing as a striker, finds himself in behind the Brighton defence.
Never one to lose his cool, apart from single time he goes up for a header with his elbows flailing, he stops dead and lifts his head to a pick a pass.
MAROUANE! HIT ME!
It's Matic. It's Nemanja Matic. Nemanja Matic is running. Nemanja Matic is making a run. Nemanja Matic is moving, forwards, in a motion that looks like running, at a speed that almost resembles a normal human being running. Nemanja Matic has made his first ever 'movement' during a football match. Nemanja Matic, like Forrest Gump freed from the leg braces. Nemanja Matic, smashing in the second goal.
Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini and the booked Lee Cattermole now, all sitting in front of the back four, protecting a 2-0 lead like they would their own tiny, shithouse children.
As Brighton fire shot after shot at the Manchester United goal, Evil José has never felt more comfortable.
This is it, the team he always wanted. No creativity, no attacking intent and simply no regard for possession of the ball.
Just 11 men, in two unbreakable banks of four, with only a gigantic, afro-haired target man and the relentless hard running of a young, eager-to-impress striker to provide the sweaty goals.
Just 11 men who would die, and in Pepe quite possibly one that would kill, for Evil José.
Romelu 'Bootcuts' Lukaku is dropped for Fellaini, but otherwise the team remains intact for an away trip to Arsenal, the Emirates and Count Unai Emery.
Salomon Kalou, playing like a cross between prime David Beckham and, well, Salomon Kalou, creates both goals in a heroic 2-0 victory.
It makes Evil José wonder whether he needed to spend £110 million on Eden Hazard at all. Until he remembers he can provide useful cover at right-back behind current starter Phil Jones, who has now cemented himself in the team by a) crying like a gigantic funny-looking baby every time he doesn't get a game and b) doing his best Alan Hutton impression whenever he does get on the pitch.
Ander Herrera - Evil José's favourite new toy like a dog discovering a chewed up tennis ball at the bottom of the garden - and Marcus Rashford get the goals, both from deep Kalou crosses to the far post.
The only trouble comes when Lee Cattermole, on a yellow card from the 32nd minute because Lee Cattermole is always on a yellow card from the 32nd minute, watches Arsenal kick-off for the second half, lets them run past him, and then immediately sprints back to scythe Granit Xhaka down from behind for what could have been a straight red anyway, let alone a second yellow.
It's as though he does this on purpose, it really is.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scores a decent free-kick but it isn't enough as Evil Manchester United hold on, and move to a lofty ninth position in the league.
The football? Well, the fans hate it, the tabloids hate it, Ed Woodward and Avram Glazer hate it.
Evil José cannot get enough.
The unbeaten run continues, despite a slip-up at home to West Ham in what FM19 deems 'El Sackico'. United take the lead out of nothing thanks to a Rashford screamer and then proceed to sit back and soak up all the pressure a midfield of Mark Noble and Carlos Sanchez can muster.
For the second game running, a scorcher of a free-kick flies past the outstretched glove of David De Gea late on. This time for Marko Arnautovic to gift the Hammers an undeserved point.
Up next is the second-stringers, as Pogba, Mata, Hazard, Lukaku and Bailly return to the starting lineup for a home tie against Ajax. It's yet another comfortable 2-0 win, with goals from Juan Mata, channeling his inner-centre half he discovered earlier in the series to score from a corner, and the undroppable Luke Shaw.
Despite the recent - and significant - upturn in form, Evil José is still facing stories from the press he'd rather not see. The same 'Manager on the verge of sack' story is now popping up in his inbox before every game.
And then this, from Rafa Benitez before the game away at Newcastle.
Rafa fucking Benitez, one of the nicest men in football, absolutely piling in.
Newcastle, flying high in 6th place, start the game with an intensity that catches Evil José's men off-guard. Without their talisman - the suspended Lee Cattermole - in midfield to relentlessly hack the opposition to pieces, they are soon overwhelmed by the emboldened black and white tide.
The opening goal comes through Kennedy, who mullers one into the top corner with De Gea motionless. Postage stamp. Man United create no chances of note throughout the entire game.
It doesn't matter though when you have the fierce will to win of an Evil José side. When the going gets tough, well, the tough tell Marouane Fellaini to get in the fucking mixer and get his bonce on it.
There are no less than three (3!) Newcastle defenders swarming him when he nods in the equaliser. The defenders are so close, and Fellaini so tall, that his head poking out above them reminds me of Dugtrio from the original set of Pokémon.
Still, United were in a hole at 1-1 given the constant pressure on Evil José.
And then Marouane Fellaini used dig again. It was super effective.
Same left-side corner, same deep ball to the far-post, same gigantic Belgian attacking the ball with the fury of a thousand suns.
Notice Paul Dummett, zonally marking the far post, seemingly frozen in time, fossilised on the Sports Direct Arena turf, the sheer force of the Fellaini header like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Notice how when he needs them, Evil José's men give him everything and more.
And then Liverpool. The team that ended it all for the real José Mourinho.
In game, they are top of the table and Virgil Van Dijk has the highest average rating in the Premier League. I repeat, in the game.
United have them at home in the Carabao quarter-final.
It will prove to be Evil José's final game in charge of the club. The symmetry is poetic.
Despite it all, Lee Cattermole getting injured, but also the crushing weight and expectation of reality, United win.
The fans, so-often desperately miserable, are jubilant. The morale of the players, so often a dark red arrow pointing directly to hell, is now through the roof. The board are suddenly satisfied with Evil José's performance when I check the confidence tab. Evil José, it seems, has managed to right the ship, and with bottom-placed Fulham waiting on the horizon, the new feel-good factor around the club only looks set to improve.
Which is why Evil José did something that José Mourinho could never do.
I tried to send Evil José out on a high. I wanted him to give the biggest 'fuck you' imaginable to Ed Woodward and Avram Glazer, the real villains of this piece of fantasy grounded in reality, but Football Manager wouldn't let me.
I demanded a new stadium, Evil José Arena, in the hope that they would reject my evidently stupid request and I could then turn it into an ultimatum.
Glazer pretended he didn't hear, and the game gave me no option to quit.
When I increased my demands, asking for a bigger wage budget, an increase in transfer revenue and at least an increase in the capacity of Old Trafford, my requests were just... met.
Now Evil José has an even more astronomical amount of money to spend on ill-fitting players, and an extra 10,000 seats for people to sit in and watch these ill-fitting players grind out turgid defensive performance after turgid defensive performance.
This wasn't how it was supposed to go.
But there comes a time when a man must stay true to everything he has ever preached, everything he has ever believed in. And that time came for Evil José, at the peak of a very mild, fleeting sort of success.
Always leave them wanting more. I think P. T. Barnum said that. Nelly Furtado probably did at some point too.
Evil José had to walk away before he was pushed.
He had to do what the real José Mourinho never could. Know when the end was coming before it came.