In Brief

Jose Mourinho: player power is problem in modern football

Ex-Man Utd manager speaks publicly for first time since being sacked

Jose Mourinho believes player power is now so strong in the top clubs that managers wield little influence in the changing room.

Speaking to media for the first time since he was sacked last month as manager of Manchester United, Mourinho told beIN Sports: “In modern football there is a problem between the coach and the player.

“We are not in a time any more where the coach, by himself, is powerful enough to cope and to have a relationship of education and sometimes confrontation with players who are not the best professionals.”

More protection

Following Mourinho’s departure, United have enjoyed a six-match winning streak under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Mourinho made no reference to this transformation in fortunes, which has lifted the side to within six points of the top four, but he clearly had the Red Devils in mind when he said: “A club must be very well organised to cope with these kind of situations, where the manager is only the manager and not the man who is trying to keep the discipline or educate the players.

“The structure must be there to protect the manager and for the players to feel that they are not going to arrive into a situation where they feel more powerful than they used to be.” 

Advice from Sir Alex

Mourinho added that he had tried to follow advice given to him by former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson early in his managerial career.

“The phrase I kept with me, the biggest one in the Premier League, Sir Alex told, ‘The day a player is more important than the club, goodbye.’ The manager is there to coach them. Not to keep discipline at any cost.”

According to The Times, a non-disclosure agreement with the club prohibits Mourinho from discussing the exact circumstances of his dismissal from Old Trafford, “but his words will be interpreted by many as a swipe at the United players with whom he clashed”.

He went public with his criticisms of his squad on several occasions, and Paul Pogba was a particular source of irritation. 

Pogba has a pop

There are no such contractual constraints on Pogba, and the United star has told Sky Sports how much more he’s enjoying his football under Solskjaer.

Since the Norwegian arrived, Pogba has scored four goals and contributed five assists.

“The way we are playing, we have more possession of the ball,” the French midfielder said. “We know more where to attack and where to go. We have more of a pattern of play and more of a structure. That makes it easier for everyone.”

Target is trophies

Although Pogba didn’t mention Mourinho directly, he made it clear that United have rediscovered their mojo now that the Portuguese has left Old Trafford.

“It is a big club - the biggest club in England - with top players so obviously we want to be at the top and to win trophies,” he said.

“That is the objective. We are Manchester United. That is where we want to be and where we should be… that is what Manchester United is about.”

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