Terrace Talk: Jose Mourinho’s days may still be numbered

Jose Mourinho has been in more than his fair share of make-or-break scrapes during his Old Trafford reign.

Terrace Talk: Jose Mourinho’s days may still be numbered

By Richard Kurt

Jose Mourinho has been in more than his fair share of make-or-break scrapes during his Old Trafford reign.

More than any of us wanted to experience, frankly. But surely Saturday’s second half must rank at the very top?

One English Sunday newspaper, clearly gutted at the escape of the Not Such A Special One Anymore, sneered that it had been a “cheap replica” of one of Fergie’s famous comebacks. Mmm. I don’t think it felt like that to the 70,000 going mad at full-time.

Context is everything, and the reason why this particular ‘must-win’ was even more musty than ever had been provided overnight by the Daily Mirror, of all the most unexpected people.

I say that because the venerable old paper, to which I have contributed occasionally for more than 20 years, is admittedly not the power or influence it once was.

But it had summoned up all its old classic redtop zest and bravado on Friday night to plaster that José would be sacked, no matter what the result against Newcastle, all across its back page.

Cue widespread night-long meltdown among the United observer community, led by an almost comically apoplectic Gary Neville on Sky Sports.

To be fair to Neville, his anti-Woodward/Glazer rant was surprisingly articulate and well-performed, and then widely appreciated even among Reds who don’t want Mourinho to stay.

The overall effect was galvanising. That the Mirror story was denied all morning by various United suits and knocked down by sundry hacks didn’t matter; by kick-off, everyone felt we were watching José drinking port in the last chance saloon, readying for a potentially final ruck.

Seventy minutes of quite utter ineptitude then followed, staggeringly awful and chaotic, even by the standards of this wretched season — followed by 20 minutes of frankly inexplicable brilliance and exhilaration.

At the moment Sanchez’s winner went in, your venomous views of José, Woodward, the Glazers or the players were all suddenly immaterial and forgotten. You simply ballooned as though there were no tomorrow.

Actually, there may still not be a tomorrow for José. Press and public never did come to a consensus as to whether the Mirror story was or is true, just as that final 20 minutes of briefly rediscovered player pride does not necessarily establish that the dressing room are now behind him again. All Saturday may have done is, Brexit-style, kick the crunch can further down the road.

José even sarkily mentioned Brexit in his press comments, during a self-pitying tirade about seemingly being held to blame for everything in British life these days.

You may recall that I drew comparisons between José and Theresa May here last week, and they have both had dramatic escapes in the last few days — but now both face showdowns in the next fortnight.

May’s will be at a climactic euro-summit, whereas I am told José’s will be at a formal meeting with Woodward & Co in London in the next few days. They are supposed to be discussing forward planning and the January window but you can easily imagine how it might end up being a very different meet for all concerned.

If José is still manager after that, his next task will to be to take us down to play his old club, for a possibly painful reminder of the days when he could do no wrong.

He and the rest of us know it can never be that “glad confident morning” of 2006 again. José’s club career twilight clearly approaches; but Saturday did at least suggest that the encroaching darkness may yet have to bide its time.

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