Former Barcelona and Portugal forward Deco has stressed that Jose Mourinho will never change in the way he manages his players at Manchester United.
The Portuguese has overseen good progress this season, taking his team to 81 points in the Premier League and to an FA Cup final.
But there have been a variety of episodes this term which have revealed the darker, more toxic side of Mourinho, such as his treatment of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, moribund tactical approach in most games, and general attitude in press conferences – especially his “football heritage” rant.
Speaking earlier this week, Deco, who played under Mourinho at Porto, made it clear that the boss wasn’t going to change his ways any time soon.
“What happens in the dressing room is that sometimes he wants to push the players,” he said. “It’s complicated to manage a big club like Man United.”
“I think he is the same. The players changed, the time has changed. Maybe today the reactions from the players are different. If Man United brings him to be a coach they knew he was like that. He puts pressure on the players, the club. He wants to win, that’s that.”
Sir Alex Ferguson told his players back in 1990 quite bluntly: “I’m not going to change.” Either you change or you’re out – that was his maxim, and everybody listened.
And in terms of temperament, of desire and attitude and fundamental understanding of how best to play the game, he didn’t. That fieriness never abated, that raw audacity always there. But at the same time the gaffer was always flexible, changing the shape and feel of his teams in accordance with the demands of football’s concomitant evolution. That he continually changed assistant managers was a crucial aspect to his success. The core fundamentals remained the same, only with vital tweaks.
Mourinho, on the other hand, does not adopt the same alacrity to change. While Ferguson was a master in people, constantly aware of the changing moods and attitudes of his players, Mourinho has, by his own admission, struggled to see the point of view of others, and this can often lead to a disjunct between himself and players which often sows the seeds for an implosion.
Perhaps the departure of Rui Faria and subsequent lack of a right hand man, combined with the addition of Michael Carrick to the coaching staff, could go some way to addressing that this time around.