Jose Mourinho settles in at Old Trafford

After a fairly promising start to the Premier League this season, Manchester United didn’t have the ebb flowing its way. But with it finally losing the shackles of sixth place in the standings, things could be on the up for the Portuguese manager.

Jose Mourinho feels he can stay with Manchester United for three years.   -  Reuters

It’s been a roller-coaster ride at Manchester United for Jose Mourinho, who officially got the keys to Old Trafford in July. After a fairly promising start to the league this season, his side didn’t have the ebb flowing its way.

United found its mojo back in Cup competitions, winning the EFL Cup at Wembley, progressing through to the quarters of the Europa League and losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup in the quarterfinal. And with his side finally losing the shackles of sixth place in the EPL standings, things could be on the up for him.

Mourinho, as manager, is known for not sticking around in a club for more than three years. However, the Portuguese is a changed man and feels he will stay at the club for “three years (minimum)”.

“If they (Manchester United) want me to stay I will stay, but like I say, we both need to be happy. I'm not a type of person to be at a club 10, 15 years, without real success,” he said in a television interview in his homeland.

Recently, as reported by Mail Online, Mourinho gave an insight into life as United manager on Portuguese TV channel SIC, speaking about the club’s decline post the Ferguson era apart from other things.

United’s diluting influence

“I think the club got so used to winning and having success, maybe they didn’t realise other clubs were growing, even when Sir Alex was in his last years at the club.

“The Premier League were creating conditions for the other clubs to become financially powerful and that has definitely transformed the league.

“When I first arrived at Chelsea, I wanted to buy Manchester City’s best player (Shaun Wright-Phillips) and I did. Manchester United wanted Tottenham’s best player Michael Carrick, and they did. Later they wanted Arsenal’s best Robin van Persie. And so on.

“Nowadays all clubs have grown and with TV rights being shared, it’s almost unique in European football,” he said.

Personal life

Managing a club as massive as United has taken its toll. His wife and kids, who are used to life in the capital from during his day at Chelsea, still live in London. Mourinho, who is a permanent resident of the Lowry Hotel in Manchester’s city centre, makes frequent trips to meet his family.

“In the morning, normally Ricardo Formosino (who scouts the opposition), comes and meets up with me around 8.30am. The training session is at 11am, if we train once on the day we leave around 4pm, if we train twice, around 6 or 7pm, it’s how we are, and the job is not just training, it’s much more than the sessions. We go back to Manchester at the end of the day.

“London is very close to Manchester by train, with direct trains, every hour. One hour, 45 minutes and I’m home. It’s not the same situation as being in different countries or miles and miles away.”

Commercial obligations defines modern-day footballers?

With clubs and players signing multi-million dollar deals with brands, the parties involved are obligated to be active on social media. This is something the old-school Portuguese has reluctantly embraced. “So there are things that you can’t fight against. In my case I have Instagram, as my commercial partners felt it was good.

“Once a month, or on the King’s birthday I might put up a funny picture, or something people who follow me might like. At my age, I can also learn a lot from the kids I work with,” he conceded.

Modern-day footballers

Selfies and secret handshakes are here to stay regardless of whether certain fans accept it or not. If there was ever a player who personified such shenanigans, it would be United midfielder Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has been criticised for publicising his dance moves and handshakes on Instagram/ Twitter, especially since when he’s failed to live up to the hype after United threw big bucks to capture his signature in the summer.

However, the Portuguese has a different take on this.

“When I was an assistant-coach, one boss in particular used to tell me to go on the coach and check if any players were on the phone, I’d spot players with heads down hiding their phones, and I would return to my boss and say, ‘no stress, all good, no one on the cell phones’. I understood there are things where there is no way back.

“I try to establish a few basic rules, for example a player that’s injured cannot put his diagnosis on social media before the club. But it’s impossible to say ‘If this were back in my time’. It was once impossible to take a picture inside the changing rooms after a victory,” he feels.

However, Mourinho is still old-school in certain approaches. The Portuguese has given the club’s all-time greatest manager Sir Alex Ferguson free access to the dressing room and the players, a privilege very few former managers have with their clubs.

“He (Ferguson) wanted to leave and not return, maybe for his own comfort. I told him, it made no sense, us travelling to London on a private train and Sir Alex, going by car.

“‘No, you come in the train’. He’s so respectful that he got a bit shy in this approach, it has to be us to make him feel cared for, and made him feel that in our heads there aren’t ghosts.

“He will always be an ambassador to this club but he’s been doing it as far as he can from the changing rooms.”

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