The explosion of Jose Mourinho after Manchester United's 4-1 defeat against Liverpool could mean that the Portuguese will enter the finals. Even for a manager whose media appearances are often frank, the comments were extraordinary. He confessed to worry about handing Ed Woodward, executive vice president of the club, a list of five players for "two new signatures" and not knowing if any of them would arrive on August 9 when the window will close.
He would not have paid to see the Liverpool match even though he was among the most ferocious English football rivals and therefore a centerpiece of the International Champions Cup, a lucrative summer money weaver. This occurred after 101,254 people were drawn to the University of Michigan stadium, United having played in almost empty stadiums during previous outings against Club America, San Jose Earthquakes and Milan. So how do the Glazers, the for-profit American owners, see their manager warning supporters not to attend the final match against Real Madrid in Miami on Wednesday?
It was not finished yet. How Alexis Sánchez could he be "very happy with the players around him," asked the 55-year-old player in a redundant dismissal of young players that he is supposed to develop as future united footballers.
Mourinho then rounded up his captain Antonio Valencia to be unfit, the unfortunate Anthony Martial not to rush to the tour following the birth of his child, more – oddly enough – the referee and the assistants from "baseball". There have also been ongoing complaints about the departure of the trip without 13 front-line players due to World Cup vacations.
In all of this, there is an image of Mourinho's third term on two occasions in Chelsea (2004-07003) and 2013-15) and Real Madrid (2010-13). Meanwhile, the summer has seen only one big championship signing Brazilian midfielder Fred, plus back Diogo Dalot, 19, untested. Mourinho may have taken United to second place last year, a better performance since the 2012-13 title win, but they trailed behind a 19-point record behind Manchester City. United has never been a serious challenger, so what Mourinho has to deliver in 2018-1919 is clear: the gap with Pep Guardiola's men has to be filled and United must still be in the championship race next May. In this context, Mourinho's media performance in Michigan can be viewed as a near-hopeless dice game to try to hasten Woodward to get at least one of his central and broad preferences – and the ground preparation should not.
There are echoes of the third classic term Mourinho, the difference this time is that his situation is precarious. In the Chelsea and Madrid tenures, Mourinho enters the third year with his title of champion since the championships were disputed the previous seasons.
This summer, his status at United is about to slip at the end of the race, unless the camp starts the season and continues throughout the winter and spring. His words in Michigan followed the defeatist assessment last week that United will fight to defeat Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion in their first two Premier League matches due to players having a shorter pre-season. Yet, he failed to mention that Leicester was seriously weakened by losing his best player, Riyad Mahrez, to City.
An irony for Mourinho is that he enjoys greater autonomy at Old Trafford than at Chelsea or Real. Woodward may not sign each transfer request – Ivan Perisic of Internazionale and Willian of Chelsea may be a difficult claim at their asking price because of their 29 year old – but Mourinho does not have to withstand the pressure on players imposed on him.
situation in Chelsea and Real. In December 2006, Mourinho insisted that he would never feel moved to play Andriy Shevchenko, who was considered a 30.8 million-pound vanity project by the owner, Roman Abramovich. His release by "mutual consent" after slamming in September of his fourth year can be traced to Shevchenko's arrival with Michael Ballack apparently joining over his head.
A memorable noise came just before this departure in a barb about how Abramovich's transfer policy prevented the purchase of elite players. "Some are more expensive than others and give you better omelets," he said. "So when Class 1 eggs are in Waitrose and you can not go, you have a problem."
At Real, where the president often acts as a de facto football director, similar problems arise. Mourinho signed a new four-year contract in the summer of 2012 after leading the club to a La Liga triumph record. Yet the next campaign was going to be the "worst of my career," he said. There were clashes with club favorites Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo and in May 2013 Real lost the 15-point title to Barcelona, was eliminated from the Champions League semifinals and was defeated against Atletico Madrid in Copa del Rey final.
His second stint at Chelsea ended the same way. The agreement of a new four-year contract on August 7, 2015 was followed the day after a heated argument with the club's doctor, Eva Carneiro, about her treatment of Eden Hazard at of the opening match against Swansea City.
While Mourinho and Chelsea later settled with Carneiro regarding an unfair dismissal demand, this December he was sacked, paving the way for his appointment to United two years ago. Since then, there have been 10 major signatures awarded by Woodward and the Glazers. Compared to 13 for a Guardiola team that was better than United when the Catalan took over, Mourinho may have a point regarding the transfer policy.
Yet, United has twice doubled Mahres' £ 60m record for Mahrez – Romelu Lukaku (£ 75m) and Paul Pogba (£ 89.3m) – while the board continues to support Mourinho, diatribes
If the question is asked what Guardiola could do with the same team as Mourinho – surely better than 19 points behind – the knot of what feeds his serial groan can become clearer. This is the suspicion that United is about to fall behind when the third season of Mourinho Old Trafford begins. And that both "Special One" has become the "Powerless One" in terms of its ability to stand out at the top.