Romelu Lukaku place under threat as Jose Mourinho eyes rotation policy

Updated 16 December 2017
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Romelu Lukaku place under threat as Jose Mourinho eyes rotation policy

LONDON: Jose Mourinho has admitted it will be “almost impossible” to avoid rotating his squad as Manchester United bid to stay in touch with runaway title rivals Manchester City in the coming weeks.
As his United side get ready to face struggling West Brom in Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash, the recent poor form of striker Romelu Lukaku, who the Reds splashed £75 million ($99 million) on during the summer, has given Mourinho a selection headache after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to fitness in November came sooner than expected.
“There will be a bit of rotation,” said Mourinho without directly addressing the Lukaku situation.
“I’ll change a few players from match to match, because I think it is almost impossible for players to play all these matches in December and the beginning of January,” he added.
Lukaku did score the first-half winner on Wednesday as United beat Bournemouth, 1-0, at Old Trafford, but has looked below par for the past two months, with just three goals in 15 games.
Mourinho, however, is reluctant to rush Ibrahimovic’s return from knee ligament damage he sustained in April, which many feared might be a career-ending injury for the Swede. United’s manager suggested a week ago that the striker, who has yet to score since his comeback, is not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes.
A further setback off the pitch came with Mourinho’s confirmation that center-back Eric Bailly, who has not played since Nov. 5, needs ankle surgery and is likely to be out for the next three months.
The United manager is under pressure to get results and back into the title race during the notoriously busy December-January period after losing ground to Pep Guardiola’s City in the Manchester derby a week ago. The result left United 11 points behind the leaders. But the Portuguese attempted to put the 38 points his side have accrued into perspective.
“We are second. The number of points could be first in other seasons, but we are second. We go one match at a time and let’s see at the end of the season how many points we have and where we are,” he said.
Sunday’s visit to The Hawthorns may not necessarily offer an any respite for Mourinho and his side. Albion are on a club-record run of 16 matches without a victory, and have not scored in three games since Alan Pardew took charge, but they drew 0-0 at Liverpool on Wednesday with a disciplined display. Before that they dropped five points against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace in a 0-0 home draw and a 1-0 defeat at Swansea.


Jose Mourinho’s sacking leaves the ‘Special One’ at a career crossroads

Updated 18 December 2018
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Jose Mourinho’s sacking leaves the ‘Special One’ at a career crossroads

  • Since the middle of last season, Mourinho had been involved in a power struggle with senior members of the playing squad
  • A string of uninspiring performances since the season started saw Mourinho come in for criticism from all sides

LONDON: Five years after being snubbed for the Manchester United job immediately after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho has once again been unceremoniously rejected by the club after two-and-a-half fractious and tumultuous years at the helm.
And the truth is, it was an inevitable divorce.
Since the middle of last season, Mourinho had been involved in a power struggle with senior members of the playing squad, openly criticized board members for a lack of backing in the transfer window and the majority of fans had started to turn on the so-called “Special One” and his tactics.
And while they would never do so publicly, no doubt several of the players who had fallen foul of Mourinho’s wrath were privately breathing a sigh of relief when the club announced that Mourinho had left the club with “immediate effect” on Tuesday.
Indeed, the player Mourinho clashed with the most — £89 million ($112 million) midfielder Paul Pogba — deleted a controversial social media post of himself smiling after the news broke.
That controversy was a microcosm of the French World Cup winner’s stormy relationship with Mourinho.
But the former Juventus player, who retuned to Manchester United having already been with the club during the Ferguson era, was repeatedly criticized by Mourinho during his reign and Pogba was stripped of the United vice-captaincy earlier this season.
The pair were captured having a frosty exchange on the training ground as Mourinho grew angry with his key midfielder’s lethargic performances, dropping him on several occasions to spark talk he would be sold by the end of the season.
And even on the pitch, the writing has been on the wall for a while.
A string of uninspiring performances since the season started saw Mourinho come in for criticism from all sides, as the Portuguese became more and more embittered and paranoid in his dealings with the media.
The final straw for the club was Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, who United usurped as the biggest club in England under Ferguson’s 27-year reign. And the Scot was seen shaking his head as he watched his dynasty unravel in front of his eyes at the hands of United’s bitterest of rivals.
While the Merseyside club battle it out for the Premier League title with Manchester City and Tottenham — all playing a refreshing, exciting brand of football — United find themselves 19 points adrift of the summit and struggling to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Mourinho’s stagnant, defensive approach jarred with supporters, some of whom have only known the rampant attack-minded approach the club used to such devastating efficacy under Ferguson.
Mourinho was brought in to bring back those glory days after David Moyes and then Dutchman Louis van Gaal struggled to step out of Ferguson’s shadow.
And despite first-season League Cup and Europa League titles, he has failed miserably since. And he has bought himself little good grace with fans and officials, finding new excuses and ways to blame each latest defeat on his players, while ungraciously reminding critics of previous successes at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
But this ignominious end for Mourinho in what he called his “dream job” leaves him at a crossroads in his career. Few clubs will have been inspired by his playing style with a highly-talented team, even fewer will want to deal with the off-field tantrums and constant bickering.
Having arrived in English football as a breath of fresh air, he leaves it (for now) like a foul odor. With the prospect of no club to manage, no trophies to win and no teams to build, Mourinho is now much less the “Special One,” and more and more likely to be the “Tainted One.”