Democracy Dies in Darkness

Early Lead

Right on schedule, Jose Mourinho is having a meltdown at Manchester United

By Matt Bonesteel

August 28, 2018 at 11:11 AM

This look from Jose Mourinho . . . it’s not good. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s uncanny, really.

In his first season as Real Madrid’s manager in 2010-11, Jose Mourinho led the team to its first Copa del Rey title in 18 years. In his second, Real won the La Liga crown for the first time in four years, setting the record for season wins. In his third, Mourinho clashed with nearly everyone — his players, other coaches, referees, journalists — and would eventually step down, calling the season “the worst of my career.”

From there, Mourinho returned to Chelsea, where he had won two Premier League titles and an FA Cup earlier this century. He led the Blues to a third-place Premier League title and a Champions League semifinal berth in his first season and another Premier League championship in his second but, once again, stumbled in his third. After losing nine of his first 16 matches, Chelsea and Mourinho parted ways “by mutual consent” in December 2015.

Mourinho now is in his third season at Manchester United, and, based on the early results in this year’s Premier League, the third-year cratering we’ve come to expect from the Portuguese manager has begun once again. On Monday, Tottenham traveled to Old Trafford and humiliated the home team, 3-0, the first time in four Manchester meetings that Spurs had even registered a goal. For only the second time in Premier League history, Manchester United has lost two of its opening three matches.

The response from Mourinho was both feisty and peculiar. He stuck around after the final whistle to salute the few Man U fans who stayed till the very bitter end (ignoring, perhaps, the Spurs fans who chanted, “You’re getting sacked in the morning.”) (He hasn’t. Yet.)

Then, in one post-match interview, he insisted that his team actually had come out ahead in most aspects of the game. Except, you know, that problematic final score. Also, he said “all our fans don’t read papers, all our fans don’t watch television, all our fans are more intelligent than that,” which is likely untrue.

And finally, in his crowning achievement on a very bad night, Mourinho attempted to remind everyone of his past Premier League accomplishments, holding up three fingers and saying: “Do you know what this means? 3-0. That also means three Premiership [titles], and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them.”

And then, repeating the word “respect” over and over again, he was gone.

According to the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson, Manchester United officials plan to stick with Mourinho despite his team’s struggles and the common knowledge that things tend to go sideways in the third year of his tenure. They saw good things in the first half of Monday’s game, when Man U kept Spurs off the board in a scoreless draw. A poor result at bottom-dwelling Burnley on Sunday would be less than ideal, however.

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Matt Bonesteel spent the first 17 years of his Washington Post career writing and editing. In 2014, Bonesteel pivoted from the newspaper to online and now he blogs for the Early Lead and other Web-based products owned by The Post.

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Early Lead

Right on schedule, Jose Mourinho is having a meltdown at Manchester United

By Matt Bonesteel

August 28, 2018 at 11:11 AM

This look from Jose Mourinho . . . it’s not good. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s uncanny, really.

In his first season as Real Madrid’s manager in 2010-11, Jose Mourinho led the team to its first Copa del Rey title in 18 years. In his second, Real won the La Liga crown for the first time in four years, setting the record for season wins. In his third, Mourinho clashed with nearly everyone — his players, other coaches, referees, journalists — and would eventually step down, calling the season “the worst of my career.”

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