Mourinho's poor treatment of Rashford and McTominay makes mockery of 'manhunt' rant

Mourinho's poor treatment of Rashford and McTominay makes mockery of 'manhunt' rant Featured

By / Premier League / Sunday, 07 October 2018 11:37

Jose Mourinho's decision to single out Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay lacked class after claiming he has been unfairly targeted, writes Desmond Kane.

It was quite a day for frazzled old masterpieces. Only hours after the mysterious street artist Banksy shredded his Girl With A Balloon painting at Sotheby’s, Jose Mourinho’s nerves were shredded by a gruesome display of modern art.

Unlike Banksy’s latest stunt, United’s handiwork has not doubled their value, but they may just have postponed the need to pay an apparent £20m in a severance package to their much-maligned manager, who continues to talk too much for his own good.

A 3-2 win over an anguished Newcastle United may not sound like much, in the grander tapestry of United's season, but it was needed more than a "manhunt", a special take from the Special One on his self-inflicted predicament that bordered on embarrassing. How much breathing space Mourinho is given by the club's board depends on their willingness to listen to his hot air.

To say United were poor in the first half is an insult to poverty of performance. Yet according to Mourinho, outside forces are to blame for United's insipid, uninspiring state of torpor.

"I am 55 years old. It is the first time I see man-hunting," he said in a remarkable outburst on BT Sport. "I can cope with it. I can live with it. Some of the boys, in spite of them not being the man that is hunted, they are not coping well with it."

Mourinho said afterwards that the midfielder Scott McTominay, 21, was "scared" and Marcus Rashford, 20, was "sad", but that summed up an array of other United players who looked lost inside the red shirt. And a few of them were more deserving of the verbal birch.

Mourinho really lets himself down at such times. Goodness knows how McTominay and Rashford will react to their manager being so critical, but it is hardly going to enhance confidence in what was supposed to be a United moment of triumph.

Mourinho feels there is a culture of “wickedness” against him, but you do not respond to feeling that you are being made a scapegoat by scapegoating two younger players. The claims that he is the victim of a "manhunt" lack credibility when you pursue a "manhunt" against your own men.

Yet it fits the narrative that Mourinho cannot trust younger players to follow through on orders that make United such a sterile, joyless watch. And when life goes wrong, he is only too content to hang them out to dry.

In an interview with the club TV channel, he later remarked on the importance of "dignity".

But his decision to take to television to carp on about McTominay and Rashford was cheap, nasty and unnecessary when United had extracted three points from an evening that seemed as bright as a dip in Salford Quays.

The central defender Eric Bailly was removed for Juan Mata after 19 minutes, but men such as Romelu Lukaku, Ashley Young and Nemanja Matic were hardly glistening in the autumnal evening at Old Trafford as United cut a tortured mess in a workshop of horrors that was once known as the Theatre of Dreams.

Goodness knows what Victor Lindelof, the £30m centre-half from Benfica, made of it watching from the technical area. You will need to check social media to find out what Antonio Valencia thinks. He was nowhere near the squad, but likes what Jose doesn't.

Kenedy waltzed through the home defence to score the opening goal on seven minutes with a lovely finish before Yoshinori Muto plunged a second into the rigging. It seemed Mourinho was heading the same way as David Moyes and Louis van Gaal after such a galling time.

Marouane Fellaini's hairdo looked more compact than United in those first opening exchanges as they fell 2-0 behind with David de Gea depriving Newcastle of a certain win when he clawed out a Muto header when it seemed easier to score.

Yet Rafael Benitez's side, supported by the debatable Mike Ashley business empire, are the type of team that you can afford to give a two-goal start to. They are without a win so far this season, and have assembled only two points in lying second to bottom of the table.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Mourinho gambled like a drunken sailor, aware that this could have been the last throw of the dice for him as United manager.

Fellaini was introduced for McTominay at the interval while Rashford was hauled off for Sanchez on 67 minutes.

Mata scored a brilliant free-kick on 70 minutes before Anthony Martial combined with Paul Pogba to slot the equaliser. Sanchez headed the winning goal from Young's cross on 89 minutes, his first since March to lift the impending gloom. Even though Mourhino's body language has hardly hinted at a euphoric state, this one was worth getting celebrating.

It was all very manic in Manchester as the outstanding Pogba, Matic and Smalling were deployed as United’s backline in the second half. It was a gamble that could easily have backfired with Mohamed Diame blowing one exceptional chance to restore Newcastle’s lead after Martial had restored parity.

But it worked because Mourinho was forced to throw caution to the wind. To somehow create an attacking force that could extract three points at will without any thought to any great defensive structure was the key to this success. It also gave him a platform to spout greater guff than Boris Johnson rather than enjoy a nice bottle of Vinho Verde and a quantum of solace.

"As a friend of mine was saying to me this morning, if tomorrow rains in London it’s my fault. I go to London tonight if it rains it’s my fault, if there’s some difficulty to have agreement of Brexit it’s my fault and I have to be ready for this."
Like Brexit, it is difficult to see those sunlit uplands.

There is no "manhunt" or "witch-hunt" against Mourinho or United. To suggest the valid criticism of men like Paul Scholes, Roy Keane or Paul Parker's Eurosport column are done out of spite or badness or wickedness is nonsense. These guys love United, but are not happy about the results, standard of performance, vision or lack of title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson signed off five years ago.

If United supporters think such a team are meeting the required standards of one of the world's richest clubs, they are in denial.

Mourinho has earned a stay of execution from this result, and he deserves credit for being audacious enough to make the changes that were needed. But it is difficult to envisage a future that sees him solving the club's problems when he has played such a prominent part in creating them.

He is not in control of his destiny with this squad, but the compensation package will at least make it worth the wait.

Mourinho will continue to feel he is the wronged party, as he did at Chelsea and Real Madrid in previous years, but his misplaced sense of grievance was a bit like his team for large swathes of this contest: good for nothing.


Edi Kochoi

Edi Kochoi

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