LONDON - Not only has Jose Mourinho risked alienating his players and the fans in pre-season but he is damaging Manchester United’s brand, too. Carry on like this and he won’t be at the club come Christmas.
Mourinho, the figurehead of the world’s biggest football club, has told the 101,000 supporters who watched United’s 4-1 defeat by Liverpool in Michigan that they should have stayed away. What must the Glazers have thought of their manager’s recent outbursts? These tours are as much about business as they are sport. United will want to sell as many tickets, shirts and merchandise as possible.
Instead, the manager is tarnishing the club’s image by saying that their product is not worth watching. Mourinho’s words are bound to have an adverse effect on the players he has taken on tour. He may be without his World Cup stars but in a successful dressing room you need the whole squad pulling together. He is telling his squad players publicly that they are not good enough.
All of this is a calculated move to put United’s decision-makers under pressure to bring in new signings. Mourinho will be looking with envy at Liverpool, who have spent £177million to close the gap on Manchester City.
Yet it is not as if he has only just walked into this job. He has had two years to rebuild United and been backed to the tune of £360m to do so. You could not argue with Ed Woodward for thinking: "How much more money is it going to take?"
It is hard to think of a club having a more negative pre-season. Mourinho could not even resist having a dig at Paul Pogba, his World Cup-winning midfielder. These comments are not an attempt at reverse psychology. They are just sheer misery.
He is starting to sound like a manager who wants out. To start dishing out ultimatums on transfer spending smacks of desperation. Once you start taking on the board, there is usually only one winner. Should Mourinho continue in this vein and his side suffer a slow start to the season, United will rapidly run out of patience.