Jose Mourinho’s press conference rant raises more questions the Manchester United manager cannot answer

Miguel Delaney
The Independent
Jose Mourinho’s press conference rant raises more questions the Manchester United manager cannot answer
Jose Mourinho’s press conference rant raises more questions the Manchester United manager cannot answer

Only Jose Mourinho could make a mere press conference more newsworthy and noteworthy than a crushing 3-0 defeat as bad as that for Manchester United, but nobody should confuse this media performance as any kind of convincing deflection. It was way too bizarre for that, and really the complete opposite.

It will only bring more questions on Mourinho himself, questions he showed he doesn't really know how to answer.

The Portuguese ended the night demanding that he be shown “some respect… respect. Respect, man.” And although he was walking out as he came out with all of this, there was no better illustration of a man backed into a corner.

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This was a press conference when Mourinho was properly challenged, especially when so hypocritically going back on his belief that the result was all that matters – this itself after the highly questionable claim that his side had not lost the game, tactically – and it developed into a proper back-and-forth.

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The only real responses that Mourinho could come up with were: one, point to his previous winning record as a manager as if that should absolve him of any modern criticism and, two, to appeal to the “best judges” of the supporters… ostensibly so they don’t criticise him either.

As this season increasingly devolves into a 2015-16 ‘Mourinho season’, there are still many of those supporters that can only be called ‘Mourinho truthers’, but he just repeatedly sought to avoid confronting the brutal truth of this game. These empty responses were more evidence of a man who doesn’t really know what to do or say next… who has no answers.

Mourinho walks out of press conference demanding 'respect'

The Portuguese had come out composed enough, continuing his argument that the performance against Tottenham Hotspur was not as bad as the 3-0 final result made out.

It then got a bit testy when a journalist naturally asked what happened to explain that result.

Mourinho’s only response was an instant: “Did you see the goal?”

Two issues should be made of this. First is the way Mourinho attempts to turn any criticism around, so the interviewer has to say it, putting them on the spot when it is really him on the spot - literally. Second is the way he makes it implicit that it was one of his players at fault, with everyone knowing it’s Phil Jones, throwing him under the bus without actually making himself responsible for the action.

It was the same when Mourinho was immediately asked about whether he knows what his best backline is - “no” - and whether it’s good for his players’ confidence to keep chopping and changing.

They did end up looking like a side petrified of making any error on Monday, but that only properly started the back-and-forth. Mourinho made out that such questions were a mischievous attempt to portray some kind of disconnect between himself and his squad - as if the atrocious scale of the defeat did not do that in itself.

“You want to make the miracle of my team played so well and strategically we were so, so good and you want to try and transform this press conference into ‘let's blame the guy’… you can try. Keep trying.”

Mourinho then himself tried to remarkably row back on the principle that has defined his entire career, that it is only the result that matters.

“When I win matches I come here many times and you are not happy and you say the most important is the way of playing. I need to know what is the most important thing if it is is to play well or win matches?”

You might say that about-turn was remarkable, except it fit another defining element of his career: reaching for whatever saves face for Jose Mourinho.

Spurs tear Manchester United apart to compound Mourinho's misery

Eventually, Jamie Jackson of the Guardian put the brutal truth to him. “You lost 3-0, though.”

That led to the last refuse of the desperate football manager: pointing to past results as some kind of safety net for current results.

READ MORE: Mourinho’s press conference transcript - Every word spoken

READ MORE: Neville - Mourinho must accept responsibility for Man Utd failings

“Do you know what was the result? What this means? Three-nil but also means three Premier Leagues and I won more alone than the other 19 managers together.”

Another problem for him was that a Premier League manager who has won nothing in Mauricio Pochettino proved how irrelevant that is.

Mourinho had already by then made a Trumpian appeal to his support base, saying the fans were the “best judges”, those who sang his name at the end.

It was just that many more fans had already walked out, as was also put to Mourinho.

“I would do the same, losing 3-0,” he responded, before the coup de grace. “Taking two hours from here to centre of Manchester, it takes two hours, I would do the same…”

Okay.

Time was appropriate way to sign off, since the biggest question of all now is whether we’re really entering that 2015-16-style end game.

He really needs the only response possible, a result in the next game. Does he know how to do that?

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