Why always me? Remember the t-shirt? Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli drew the attention of the media after he scored the first goal of Manchester City’s 6-1 win over United in October 2011.
This week on the red side of Manchester, it was Jose Mourinho who made the headlines after kicking one, then throwing down another set of bottles on the sidelines after his team had scored late to secure qualification from the group stages of the Champions League.
Of course it is nothing new for Jose. It is difficult to decipher whether he always courts attention and makes it about him or whether it is the media who scrutinise him more than others.
We often see other managers gesturing and posturing in the technical area. Not everyone goes to quite the extent that Mourinho did this week but we have seen bottles kicked, fists clenched up towards home supporters and altercations between the two management teams right across the country. Passion is of course a good thing, but provocation is unnecessary.
The Manchester United boss reacted to the Chelsea backroom staff earlier this season. Thankfully it was resolved afterwards but Chelsea’s assistant coach Marco Ianni was righty charged with improper conduct following the scenes that marked the closing stages of the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Some analysts say Jose loves the attention and brings it upon himself. I will never know whether that is true but some of United’s struggles this season appear to stem from another struggle. It isn’t necessarily a struggle between manager and players for power but to me it feels like a struggle for attention and that may be a distraction from the football.
Over the last few decades the power of the players has undoubtedly increased. We have also seen an increase in the visibility of the stars. In part this is down to social media accounts and global audiences but the new crop of talented players now have the profile to go with it.
Balotelli may have been one of the front runners but it does seem many, not all, current players enjoy and even thrive on the intense focus on them. Much of the success of the current England side is down to a freedom to play but also Gareth Southgate has established an environment for them to be themselves but also respect his decisions and strategy.
Players appear to buy into the ethos of Guardiola and Klopp but Mourinho’s tactics are starting to look outdated. He has an incredible record as a manager and still holds the ability to oversee some good results from his squad but, as in life, we all need to adapt to a changing environment.
This isn’t to be taken the wrong way as I admire Mourinho but I miss the charm and the cheek. I just wonder whether the players do as well. No one outside of the club will know how things unfold on the training ground but the public persona, the quotes from interviews and the behaviour on the touchline do not appear to suggest a faith in the players or an admiration from them.
A strong Manchester United is good for the Premier League but that may have to happen despite rather than because of his own portrayal and his representation by the media.
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