London - November 2015 and Jose Mourinho was in meltdown. The cracks were showing in his troubled regime at Chelsea and he had been punished by the FA for ranting at referee Jon Moss during a game against West Ham.

The following month, Mourinho turned on his players by accusing them of ‘betraying my work’ after another defeat by Leicester City. Three days later he was gone.

It has become a familiar story in the career of the Portuguese coach. Short stays averaging three years, usually ending with an untidy exit soured by rancour and recrimination.

Now there is a difference, however. Mourinho appears to be reaching this point after just six months at Manchester United.

Ironically, Moss was again the target of his anger in another game against West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday. Mourinho was dismissed from the touchline for the second time in six games and now faces his third FA charge in a month.

His bond with the players which broke down so spectacularly in his second spell at Chelsea a year ago is already showing signs of fatigue at United. Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial are among those singled out in public, and there are clearly issues to be resolved.

Shaw and Martial did not even make the bench for the 1-1 draw with West Ham even though it is understood both were fit and available. Bastian Schweinsteiger, on the other hand, was among the substitutes having been banished to train with the kids for much of Mourinho’s time at the club.

It adds weight to the argument that Mourinho still does not know his best team a third of the way through the season, with United 11 points behind leaders Chelsea after their worst start to a league campaign for 27 years.

He has two points fewer than David Moyes and Louis van Gaal at the same stage of their first seasons at Old Trafford. Both men were sacked after failing to qualify for the Champions League and United are currently eight points adrift of the top four.

A man of Mourinho’s experience should be expected to provide calm leadership in this situation. Instead, the exasperated coach is kicking water bottles and doing another enforced disappearing act from the dugout as his once miraculous powers have little effect.

Just how he has reached this point so early in his tenure is not easy to fathom. There is little doubt, though, that Mourinho’s mind is troubled right now.

‘There’s a fine line between madness and genius,’ one club source told Sportsmail yesterday. ‘People react differently to pressure and he’s obsessive about winning.

‘Everyone thinks he can live up to his reputation as the Special One but the pressure he is putting himself under needs a release. After all, it’s just kicking a water bottle.

‘But there’s no doubt it’s upset the applecart because he courts controversy in a way others haven’t here. It upsets people at the club because they’re not used to it.’

People at United’s training ground talk about an obsessive man totally absorbed by his problems who will ‘smile at you one minute and blank you the next’.

Some describe Mourinho as having a split personality and appearing to be at odds with himself. Players and staff not involved with the first team are practically ignored, with his assistant Rui Faria left to keep up morale.

There have been stories of Mourinho distancing himself from the players in training or using a side entrance at Carrington to avoid mingling with them in the canteen.

Certainly, he feels that some of them are not taking enough responsibility for turning things around, privately questioning the temperament as well as the quality of the squad.

It is just one aspect of the set-up he inherited that Mourinho believes falls short of what is required. ‘The culture is not what he expected of a big club,’ said a source close to him.

That much was clear on United’s pre-season tour of China when he was unhappy with the poor training facilities and sheer weight of commercial demands on his time.

Mourinho seems to have been in an almost permanent sulk since then. There has been very little humour about the man, not even the moments of mischief that used to light up his media appearances at Chelsea.

Mourinho is irked by suggestions that living permanently in a suite at the Lowry Hotel is to blame for his mood.

Take the family away from the self-confessed family man, however, and it is bound to have an effect - especially when rival Pep Guardiola at Manchester City is settled in an apartment with his wife and their three children just down the road.

Mourinho’s wife, Matilde, and their daughter, also Matilde, are said to be inseparable, so the situation is unlikely to change while the latter stays in London to pursue a career in fashion. For now, he is on his own.

The majority of the players are still behind him, though, and Phil Jones defended his manager’s latest touchline antics yesterday.

‘That’s just passion. I like to see that from anyone - players and staff,’ said Jones. ‘It’s passion for the game and a willingness to win.’

A year on from his unravelling at Chelsea, it’s also leading Jose Mourinho back down a dark path.

@ChrisWheelerDM

Daily Mail