Considering that Manchester United have just finished in their highest Premier League position since the Alex Ferguson era, things aren’t exactly rosy in the Red Devils camp this summer.
Along with the poor transfer window, injuries and poor pre-season results, Jose Mourinho has had even more gripes than usual and not just with referees, as everyone at the club including the board, the fans and the players have come under fire from the temperamental manager.
One source within the club admitted players have been finding his behaviour “exhausting”, accusing the Special One of “dragging the whole tour down” with his incessant ranting and railing against the hierarchy.
One of the players to come into Mourinho’s crosshairs this summer has been Anthony Martial who has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford. The 22-year-old left the USA tour to attend the birth of his second child in Manchester and it’s fair to say the United manager wasn’t too pleased for the father of two, saying “he should be here and he is not here”.
The row has epitomised Mourinho’s pettiness and petulance with him also criticising players for taking too long breaks following the World Cup and taking aim at Ed Woodward for not making a single one of the five signings he wanted at the start of the summer.
He has had to sit back and watch all his top six rivals strengthen with new managers and new players, with Liverpool spending the sort of money we are accustomed to seeing at United.
It’s hard not to get a sense of déjà vu as Mourinho enters the third season of his Manchester United reign.
It was in the third season of his first Chelsea stint that the wheels started to fall off as his relationship with Roman Abramovich strained due to the owner’s influence in transfers and team selection, particularly regarding his prized asset Andriy Shevchenko, and it ended with Mourinho leaving unexpectedly early the following year.
It was in his third season at Real Madrid that Mourinho fell out with Florentino Perez over the treatment of Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo and a trophyless campaign that saw him leave the club at the end of the season.
And it was in the third season of his second spell at Chelsea that everything went up in flames after Mourinho publicly lambasted the team doctor Eva Cameiro and the Blues went on to lose nine of their first 16 matches before he got the sack.
Are we about to see the same thing again at Manchester United?
It seems like all the signs are there with the usual precursors to a bust-up already fomenting at Old Trafford. He’s publicly criticising players and the board’s transfer business, and with other potential title challengers enjoying a much more sedate pre-season, it seems the stars are aligning for the Special One’s third season speciality.
If Woodward is able to bring a couple of new faces in before the close of the transfer window, it could spark a renewed benevolence in the Manchester United manager, but it seems unlikely.
United have spent more than title winners Manchester City this summer and have backed Mourinho with big money moves for Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku who both eclipse City’s record signing. They will be understandably frustrated with his constant criticism of their spending after putting a great deal of money and faith behind him.
It all looks primed for a showdown and it’s worth United fans remembering that three is not the luckiest number for Jose Mourinho.