Jose Mourinho should be wary of the way he goes about his press conferences in the run up to the Europa League final. The constant rolling out of excuses potentially gives his players one should they fail to win on 24th May in Stockholm.
Manchester United face Ajax in the Europa League final but Mourinho’s continued griping over schedules, fatigue and almost anything you can think of, could surely have a detrimental effect on his squad. The negativity surrounding the build up to Manchester United fixtures recently is usually followed by an uninspiring performance from the team on the field.
Take for instance the game at Old Trafford in which Jose Mourinho’s side hosted newly promoted Burnley. Prior to that fixture Mourinho made sure to avert the public to the fact his side had just played five games in quick succession allowing for only two days rest in between. That performance against the Clarets wasn’t all bad, and but for some woeful finishing from United’s attacking threats, and a superb performance from Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, Manchester United would have run out comfortable winners. They did not, of course. Drawing the game 0-0 with yet another under performance from the team in which Jose Mourinho had already made excuses for his players to do so.
There have been other instances of course. Prior to the game at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal in May, Jose Mourinho called it “impossible” to go there and play for the win after having to play in the Europa League away at Celta Vigo the previous Thursday. United would go on to lose the game at Arsenal 2-0. Again a poor performance excused beforehand by their manager.
Bemoaning the draw at Old Trafford with Swansea before this, Mourinho claiming he had now given up and lost all interest in the Premier League and would rest his players for games in the competition, again was reason enough to expect dismal performances from his side. United have only won one of their five fixtures since the Swansea game, none in the Premier League. The performances of Mourinho’s side have left an awful lot to be desired, even for the most staunchest of Manchester United supporters.
There is no denying that the scheduling for clubs also participating in European competitions could be, and should be, handled more appropriately, but if you wish to be the manager of a top club challenging for honours both domestically and on the European front, this is simply something you must do. The schedule is always going to be packed. It is the same for clubs across Europe who aim to deliver European success.
One of Jose Mourinho’s more favoured justifications for failure is the fact his players have played so many matches this season. This is indeed true, but in the 2008-9 season Sir Alex Ferguson still managed to win the Premier League, win the League Cup, and reach the final of the Champions League, albeit losing to Barcelona, despite playing two more games than this current Manchester United squad will do this season.
There is also the case of the Chelsea squad of 2006-7 who, under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, played more fixtures than any other team in the entire history of the Premier League, managing to win the FA Cup, the League Cup, and finish second in the Premier League, whilst also reaching the Champions League semi-final stage.
The excuse of too many games and fatigue just does not stand up. The Manchester United squad has under performed. Allowed to do so by their manager, forgiven for it, even. This is a squad that is the most expensively assembled squad in history, costing over £600m. A squad that includes over 30 players that should have the resources to cover a schedule such as this without question. Mourinho’s persistent moaning over just about anything has given this squad an almost free pass to fail. Any points dropped against the likes of Swansea, Burnley, Southampton, sides that Manchester United should be seeing off with ultimate ease, are lost in the reasoning that this squad and their manager are hard done to.
There is no debate here that this Manchester United squad should have enough to over come Peter Bosz’s young Ajax side in the wonderfully named Friends Arena on May 24th. Should the Red Devils fail to deliver a performance and silverware in Stockholm, their manager, Jose Mourinho, would have already given them the excuses to do so.