Jose Mourinho has opened up for the first time since his sacking by Manchester United last month, appearing to criticise the club’s management structure and the power of players.
Appearing as a pundit on beIN Sports, Mourinho was gagged from talking directly about United but his answers to questions will certainly provide plenty of food for thought for fans of the club. Mourinho was sacked on December 18 with United sixth in the table and having fallen out with several first-team stars, most notably record signing Paul Pogba.
He also repeatedly expressed his frustration at the board in his final months for not signing the players he wanted. And those frustrations were aired again on Thursday as he was asked for his thoughts on the ideal structure at a modern football club. ‘We are not any more in the time where the coach by himself is powerful enough to cope and have a relationship of education and sometimes confrontation with players who are not the best professionals’, Mourinho said. ‘The coaches nowadays they need a structure.’
He added: ‘A club must have an owner or a president, a CEO or an executive director, a sports director or a football director, and then the manager. This is a structure that can cope with all the problems that modernity is bringing to all of us.
‘So, for me a club must be very well organised to cope with these kind of situations, where the manager is only the manager and not the man who is trying to keep the discipline or who is trying to educate the players.’
Mourinho’s record at Manchester United
Games: 144, wins: 84, win %: 58.3
Honours: Community Shield, EFL Cup, Europa League
Mourinho’s description of the ideal structure of a club could be taken as a thinly-veiled dig at United’s lack of a sporting director. Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman, is charged with signing players despite his background being in business. Mourinho evoked legendary United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as he expanded his point, seemingly referencing his relationship with Pogba.
He added: ‘The phrase I kept with me from Sir Alex Ferguson was, ‘the day a player is more important than the club, goodbye’. Not anymore, not anymore. So I think the way to do it is for the players to find a certain balance and the balance has to be created in the relationship between the players and the manager. The manager is there to coach them, the manager is not there to keep the discipline at any cost.
‘The structure must be made, the structure must be there to protect the manager and for the players to feel that everything is in place and that they are not going to arrive into a situation where they feel more powerful than they used to be.’ Later on in the interview, Mourinho insisted: ‘When I was speaking before I was not speaking about my experience with Manchester United at all. I am speaking in general, I think this is the way.’
And the former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto manager insisted that he is not yet done with management and vowed to return to ‘top-level football’. ‘I want to coach, I am too young (to retire),’ he said. ‘I have been around football a long time, but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks. Too young, too young. I belong to top-level football and that is where I am going to be.’