Ex-Red Devils defender Paul Parker believes Mourinho’s failure to understand the nature of the job of managing United, more than disputes with his squad or the club’s board, was the reason he ended up being sacked last December after two-and-a-half years in charge.
“He’s probably never going to be a ‘nice guy’ like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is, but some people in football are too scared to talk about him for fear of the consequences,” Parker told Eurosport.
“Mourinho never smiled, which doesn’t make any sense. He should have been happy – he was in a job that he’d always wanted, one of the most prestigious jobs in the world at one of the biggest clubs.
“He was acting like he was at Carlisle United, not Manchester United.”
Mourinho recently said in an interview that United’s poor end to the season after a bright start to life under Solskjaer – the team won only two of their final 12 games, after starting with 14 wins in the first 17 games of the Norwegian’s reign – was proof that his complaints about the club’s structure and squad were justified.
“Things might have tailed off for United under Solskjaer, but Mourinho doesn’t get it,” countered Parker, who made over 100 appearances for United from 1991 to 1996.
“When you come in as an interim manager, your job is to fill a role. You have to pacify players and you don’t do that by going in and shouting at everyone. You calm things down at the club and then start to earn the respect of the players.
“To be fair, Mourinho might have a point about some of the players, but it doesn’t mean he was right to carry on as he did.
“They might have been difficult to work with. Some of them were stale, some of them were bad apples, and some of them weren’t good enough to challenge at the top, but Solskjaer didn’t ruin the atmosphere at the club, instead he gave them hope.”
Parker pointed to the high point of United’s season, a miraculous 3-1 win away against Paris Saint-Germain to become the first club in Champions League history to win a knockout tie after losing the first leg at home by two goals, as a sign that Solskjaer understood his job better than Mourinho did.
“Look at the game against Paris Saint-Germain, they could never have done that under Mourinho,” said Parker. “You have to work with what you’ve got, whether you think there should be improvements or not.
Jose Mourinho for Man United in the Premier League:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 12, 2019
• 93 games
• 50 wins
• 17 losses
• 1.89 points per game
Ole Gunnar Solskjær for Man United in the Premier League:
• 21 games
• 12 wins
• 5 losses
• 1.9 points per game#AskSquawka @FedeGotTalent pic.twitter.com/5VQV2IGWor
“He was the one to blow his golden opportunity – it’s not anybody else’s fault,” the former defender added, highlighting the January 2018 signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal as one of Mourinho’s big mistakes.
Sanchez has managed just five goals and nine assists in 45 appearances for United despite being the club’s highest earner.
“He didn’t buy well, and he bought Alexis Sanchez, which was a disaster for the club’s finances and the team,” Parker said of Mourinho’s role in the signing. “He was fitting a square peg into a round hole, and it was totally unnecessary. Nobody made him do that.
“The problem with Mourinho was that he wanted to be a manager, which misses out at least half of the responsibility of the job, which was to be a coach.
“He’d worked under one of the great man managers, Bobby Robson, but it seemed he learned nothing from him. When Bobby saw weakness, he managed it and mitigated it, he didn’t scream and shout.
“The very best managers plan for a year ahead, they don’t burn all their bridges in anticipation of problems.”