A Chilean Red

By The Way - Weekly Columns


By Dan Mellett Josè Mourinho probably allowed himself an extra glass or two of his favourite tipple as he no doubt toasted what will turn out to be a vintage week in the managerial career of the “Special One”. Despite having delivered both a domestic and European trophy the previous season and despite a much improved return in the first half of the current season something wasn’t quite right in Josè-world. Questioned at every turn about tactics, odd press conferences and mutterings about PSG, an apparent unwillingness to put down roots in his new city of employment and a face generally as leaden as the Manchester skies above his head. Add to this an unprecedented run from his nearest rivals and lacklustre performances from his own charges in the Derby and over the Christmas period and all the hallmarks of a Mourinho melt-down were predictably visible. A press induced row with Conte followed and accusations of deflection but in the midst of that media storm some very important utterances almost went unnoticed. On the very same day that Manchester United topped a list of football’s richest clubs and following Liverpool’s continued efforts to purchase every able-bodied man from Southampton for extortionate sums, Mourinho decided to lay a challenge down to his employers. Despite spending hundreds of millions and breaking the world transfer record since joining MUFC, Josè insisted it had not enough to compete and more damningly for the “richest club in the world” he revealed to the assembled press that he was working under financial restraint. Unbelievable. He listed examples too of his cross-town counterparts lavish spending on players, how many keepers, how many full backs, how much money? A watershed moment. For the first time the MUFC were being called out about there spending, only this time it wasn’t some disgruntled fan on Twitter or a lad with a green and gold scarf still making his way through the turnstiles at Old Trafford, it was the Manager of the Club, the “Special One”. Such an open challenge to authority doesn’t always end well and almost never when that challenge is against ones employer but then again Josè Mourinho knows that only too well. He took an educated risk and it appears to be about to pay huge dividends. Mourinho knows he is the only show in town when it comes to his job at Old Trafford. Rumblings had been heard of a will to replace him but in reality (a reality not lost on the Glazers & Co.) nobody else out their fits the bill. I can imagine the Mourinho running through this in his head: “Pochettino, won nothing, will end up at Madrid. Blanc, it’s French league, Simeone, lol you think my football is defensive”. So what reaction? It had been well documented that Manchester City had been in the driving seat to sign Arsenal’s malcontent Alexis Sanchez. Fees agreed, wages agreed, done deal. 15 points clear at the top of the league and about to sign another of the world’s best footballers for their UAE funded benevolence project in East Manchester. It was all so easy and a ready made league medal awaited Sanchez but then Mourinho stirred the pot. There’s no such thing as a done deal when Manchester United pick up the phone, especially not if you happen to be a Chilean who grew up watching “Manchester” on TV and that is how United are known in Spain and Latin America just as Manchester because to those football mad populations there was only ever one team from Manchester and they wore red not blue. What we have seen played out in the last few weeks is MUFC flexing their muscle a little and it is not just financial but emotional. Whatever mind bending figures get bandied about it must be remembered that United’s finances are self-generated revenues from a corporate machine without equal in world football. The criticism has come when the current owners have appeared unwilling to dig deeper to complete signings despite our rivals doing so time and time again. What Mourinho appears to have achieved with the Sanchez desk this time is to loosen the shackles somewhat and in doing so gain a world class player and give our nearest rivals a bloody nose for the first time in while. Mourinho is also set to be rewarded with a new and improved contract himself, committing to the club until 2021 so it’s pretty evident that his public gamble paid off. As Josè smiles wryly, puts his glass back on the cabinet and dims the lights in his 5 star Manchester hotel suite you can bet it was a Chilean red from our sponsors he’s been quaffing. Will Sanchez make the United vintage? Only time will tell but one gong is for sure our seasoned manager is one of a kind.

Graham Terris

If signing a player via an agent so obviously in it for the money, when others felt that the price was too high, is your victory then you're probably playing the wrong game.

Harvey Waywell

What player doesn't use an agent? Pay rise (Out of the clubs pockets and not our owners) and he gets to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world. What's not to like

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