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Is Mourinho’s third season syndrome striking again at Man United?

Nick Murphy | 28 September 2018

Paul Pogba issue brings things into focus

Arsenal legend Martin Keown has accused Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho of being “at war with his players” following the club’s defeat to Derby County in the Carabao Cup.

The Red Devils were knocked out by the Championship club to extend their Old Trafford winless run to three matches. Rumours later swirled of a fall-out between Mourinho and Paul Pogba.

Can the Portuguese coach stop the inevitable in his third season with the club? If he can’t, then what next for the so-called Special One? The Coral News Team investigates.

Third season syndrome

Only once has Mourinho extended his stay at a club into the fourth season. Stints at Porto, Real Madrid and his second term at Chelsea have all ended either during or at the end of his third season. Such a pattern is not a coincidence. The 55-year-old’s fractious nature doesn’t always sit well with his players long-term.

His reactionary methods and approach produces results in the short-term with the right balance of characters. However, modern footballers aren’t quite as easy to mould and manipulate and techniques of subversion begin to fail.

If Mourinho cannot successfully “create storms to protect” his side, as Frank Lampard once claimed, the whole project is in danger of falling apart.

The Pogba issue

Plenty have fallen out with Mourinho over the years. Ricardo Carvalho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Karim Benzema all have stories to tell about the divisive manager. All responded to his techniques.

Yet Eden Hazard didn’t at Chelsea. And the same is happening with Paul Pogba at Manchester United. The £89m man has been stripped of the vice-captaincy and appeared to be at the centre of a public disagreement with the manager in training this week. It’s the latest in a long line of public quarrels between the two.

The issue for United is that there doesn’t seem to be any resolution forthcoming between the pair. If coach and player cannot agree on position, let alone get on in training, what hope is there for the future?

What next?

Mourinho’s not gone yet. But the end doesn’t appear to be far off. He’s 4/7 Not to be in Charge on New Year’s Day and 2/7 to be gone before the final day of the season. His departure wouldn’t matter too much to Man United. Ed Woodward and co. would have to swallow their pride, but United would continue to be a reputable and successful club at the top level.

For Mourinho, though, it could prove to be a fatal blow. His pragmatic approach is unlikely to land him the Paris Saint-Germain job. Barcelona are also likely to be off limits following his stint at Real Madrid. That realistically leaves Serie A as his only possible destination in the near future, with Juventus or a return to Inter Milan his obvious ports of call. Otherwise, a money-laden spell in the Chinese Super League could be his only other option.

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