Willian words on Jose Mourinho prove polarising Portuguese has acolytes, as well as enemies

Matt Jones 7/08/2018
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“Sometimes we talk, we text, we send messages to each other via WhatsApp. He is a great manager, I really enjoyed working with him. I hope I can work with him again someday.”

Doesn’t it just warm your heart to see these words, spoken by a current Premier League footballer, reflecting glowingly on his time spent with a previous manager.

Now, if we told you this was Chelsea’s Willian waxing lyrical about his time spent under Jose Mourinho, you wouldn’t believe us.

Believe us you must though, as this was said by the Blues’ brilliant Brazilian about a man many football analysts will have you believe is a terrible tyrant, hell-bent on tearing players’ promising careers to shreds and sabotaging his own in the process.

For all his success as a coach, the Portuguese has worn out his welcome wherever he has gone.

Trophies have been hoovered up with regularity since the Primeira Liga was procured with Porto in his native Portugal in 2002/03. The Champions League followed a year later and thus began the magical Mourinho era.

Jose Mourinho 16

But it is alarming that success hasn’t yielded stability. Strip away the trophies and there are plenty of flaws – namely the stigma that he doesn’t develop youth and several bitter and very public fallouts with players.

“I am Jose Mourinho and I don’t change. I arrive with all my qualities and my defects,” the Special One famously said upon his unveiling as Real Madrid boss in 2010.

In 2013, after La Liga, the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana were lifted, he was gone. Fraught relationships with Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas contributed to his downfall.

A turbulent ending to his spell in charge of Los Blancos was the catalyst for Mourinho’s mystique to begin unravelling.

He shipped both Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne off to Fiorentina and Wolfsburg respectively during his second stint at Stamford Bridge – they have since returned to England with Liverpool and Manchester City and are arguably the Premier League’s two shining lights.

Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Kaka, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, Mario Balotelli and even compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo are other high-profile players he has fallen out with over the years.

Last term, Paul Pogba became the latest at Manchester United, Mourinho benching him in favour of Scott McTominay, of all players, for a period of the season.

Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba endured a fraught relationship last season.

Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba endured a fraught relationship last season.

Third-season syndrome is often a phrase that gets tagged to his career. He has never lasted longer at any of the six clubs he has coached – with the dreaded third term in charge of United upon us.

And after a campaign of wide ranging discontent among Red Devils fans and a summer of strife in the transfer market, many believe the devilish Mourinho won’t last at Old Trafford beyond 2018/19.

Luke Shaw, Antony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have felt the poison of Mourinho’s words. But while many pulverise him for his punishing treatment of some players, there is very often a purpose for his predilection towards confrontation.

Salah was deemed both mentally and physically weak when he arrived in England, aged 21.

The feud between Casillas and Mourinho was sparked by the goalkeeper’s phonecall to Barcelona midfielder Xavi in August 2011 as a means of rectifying the ugly and bitter clashes between the El Clasico rivals during the Portuguese’s spell in charge.

The pair were widely lauded for their diplomacy, yet Mourinho saw Casillas’ actions as a betrayal.

The relationship was untenable, yet Casillas was clearly on the wane and failed to retrieve his starting spot until successor Carlo Ancelotti’s second season in charge (2014/15), after which he nevertheless exited through the back door after 16 seasons in white.

Judge Mourinho all you want for his harsh treatment of United’s stars. It has been warranted.

Shaw has had regular issues with weight and fitness, Martial has undoubtedly failed to fully realise his potential, while Mkhitaryan’s maddening inconsistency infuriated United’s fans as much as his manager.

Even Pogba, for all his talent, could not argue that his woeful form during his second season back at the club was far below what is expected of an £89 million player.

Zlatan Ibrahimovich once said Mourinho made players want to die for him.

Zlatan Ibrahimovich once said Mourinho made players want to die for him.

On the other hand, there are plenty of renowned stars who’ve sipped from the Mourinho thermos and been happy to go back for more.

William Gallas, John Terry, Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto’o, Mesut Ozil, Michael Essien and Cesc Fabregas have confessed their love of working under the Portuguese.

Former Inter Milan striker Diego Forlan has said of him: “Not only does he win trophies players feel he supports them, protects them from pressure and shields them from criticism by taking it on himself.”

For every player he’s upset, there’s another willing to walk through fire for him. After leaving Inter for Barca in 2009, Zlatan Ibrahimovic said: “It was sad to leave Mourinho. That guy is special. He would become a guy I was basically willing to die for.”

Can Mourinho be brash and offensive? Absolutely. But there is more often than not method to his madness.

To some he is a tyrannical dictator, while others would happily go to war for him. Although a long list of mutineers litter Mourinho’s past, he could equally call upon a willing army of acolytes, as proved by Willian’s warm words.

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Premier League chief Richard Scudamore says decision to close transfer window early up for review in September

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Scudamore has admitted that not all are happy with the decision.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore admits the new transfer deadline is still a bone of contention among clubs and will be reviewed in September.

The English summer transfer window closes on Thursday, over three weeks sooner than usual, leaving top flight clubs rushing to complete transfer deals before the Premier League season starts on Saturday.

Scudamore, speaking after the Premier League’s annual north-west managers’ meeting in Manchester, told Sky Sports he had received mixed feedback.

“We actually decided this last September,” Scudamore said. “As with all these things, it’s only when it comes upon people – but again it wasn’t a unanimous decision to do it, so there’s bound to be some dissent still around.

“But it was done for the reasons the clubs wanted to do it, for the purposes of not having a situation where clubs are threatened with players leaving to go to other Premier League clubs.

Scudamore is set to stand down from his position at the end of the year.

Scudamore is set to stand down from his position at the end of the year.

“That, they thought, transcended all the other challenges. It is going to be challenging, particularly for the promoted clubs, who effectively have two-and-a-half weeks less.

“But the decision has been made and we’ll analyse it in September when it’s all over.”

It depended on which clubs you asked whether the new deadline was working or not, said Scudamore, who agreed some were upset about it.

“Yes, but that’s the democracy we run,” he added. “It wasn’t a unanimous decision at the time. In some clubs the managers don’t like it and the executives do, it’s mixed.

“I speak to clubs who say: ‘This is fantastic, we knew what the deadline was and we’ve worked to that.’

“But there are other clubs who say they haven’t got time and wish we hadn’t decided to do it.

“Funnily enough, it falls down the line of those who voted for it and those who voted against it.”

Scudamore, who will stand down at the end of the year after nearly 20 years in the role, said he was confident the Premier League would be ready to adopt the video assistant referee system (VAR) in time for the 2019/2020 season.

“We will be doing far more testing this year and we will be ready to go,” he added. “Hopefully it will give the clubs, I think, a much easier decision to say ‘yes’ for next season.

“I’m as confident as I can be. Mike Riley (Premier League referees’ chief) and his team have worked extremely hard doing everything they need to and we will be ready to go next season.”

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Stan Kroenke nears full takeover of Arsenal after Alisher Usmanov agrees to sell his shares

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Kroenke is now on the verge of completing a full takeover of the club.

Stan Kroenke has moved a step closer to completing a full takeover of Arsenal after minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov accepted an offer worth in excess of £550 million for his stake.

American businessman Kroenke currently owns 67 per cent of the Gunners through his company Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, and has offered to purchase the 30.04 per cent held by Usmanov’s Red and White Securities firm, valuing the Premier League club at £1.8billion.

The move has been met with widespread derision from a large section of fans, with the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) labelling the news as a “dreadful day” for the club.

Usmanov confirmed in a statement released to Press Association Sport that he had accepted the offer for his shares but did not give a reason as to why he has now opted to cash in.

“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club which could be the best football club in the world,” he said.

“I wish all the best and great success to this wonderful football club and to all those whose lives and careers are entwined in it.”

Usmanov confirmed his intention to accept Kroenke's offer.

Usmanov confirmed his intention to accept Kroenke’s offer.

Meanwhile, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust has voice several concerns over the potential takeover in a strongly-worded statement of their own.

“This news marks a dreadful day for Arsenal Football Club,” it read.

“Stan Kroenke taking the club private will see the end of supporters owning shares in Arsenal and their role upholding custodianship values.

“The most dreadful part of this announcement is the news that Kroenke plans to forcibly purchase the shares held by Arsenal fans.

“Many of these fans are AST members and hold their shares not for value but as custodians who care for the future of the club. Kroenke’s actions will neuter their voice and involvement.

“The AST is wholly against this takeover. Arsenal remains too important to be owned by any one person.”

Within two hours of the announcement the phrase ‘#KroenkeOut’ was trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom.

In a statement published on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning, Kroenke said: “We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100-per-cent ownership of the club.

“We appreciate Mr Usmanov’s dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents.

Kroenke's offer has been met with widespread derision from the fans.

Kroenke’s offer has been met with widespread derision from the fans.

“The successful implementation of the offer will result in the opening of a new chapter in the history of the club in bringing 100- per-cent private ownership by KSE.

“KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions. KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club.”

Later on Tuesday, Red and White Holdings released their own short statement to confirm the deal.

It read: “Red and White Holdings Limited (“Red and White”) today confirms that Mr Alisher Usmanov has given an irrevocable undertaking to KSE, UK, Inc. to accept the offer in respect of Red and White Securities’ entire holding of 18,695 Arsenal shares (representing approximately 30.05 per cent) for an agreed price of £29,419.64 per share in cash valuing Red and White Securities’ stake at just over £550m.”

In October last year KSE offered around £525m to buy the 18,695 shares held by Usmanov, the Russian businessman who himself attempted to buy-out Kroenke in May 2017.

The Gunners last won the Premier League title in 2004 and last season finished sixth, 37 points behind champions Manchester City, who they face in their opening game of the season on Sunday.

Unai Emery was appointed manager in May after the club said farewell to Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge.

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