Jose Mourinho – A case of cultural mismatch and failed leadership

Jose Mourinho has been the manager at Manchester United for the last 3 years. The team is my childhood team and I have been a fan for more than 20 years. The last domestic Premier League win we had was in 2013 and the last Champions League we had was in 2008. Since then, it has been a rough 5 years to be an MU fan, but it has reached a breaking point for me under Jose Mourinho, a case of cultural mismatch and failed leadership. It goes to show that no matter how much the talent is in question, without a cultural fit and leadership, the hiring won’t just work.

Cultural Mismatch

Manchester United had been known for attacking football and flair. We were never that good on the defensive side. Otherwise, we would have won more championships, even though the collection over the past two decades was truly remarkable. Our style was always to dominate the ball and attack to win. Mourinho’s style is completely opposite. His mantra is to not lose first and foremost. Hence, the games are dull and boring. You can see the fear in players’ eyes and behavior on the pitch. They don’t want to attack. They just want to defend and avoid mistakes. There is no creativity in Manchester United any more. Defenders don’t dare to move forward. Midfielders’ priority is to hold position and not lose the ball, instead of creating innovative passes or plays. Strikers are asked to pull back when not having the ball. As a result, when MU wins back possession, there is no one up front to threaten the opposition. 

Additionally, Manchester United was known for promoting young players. Mourinho is not a believer in that, as far as I am concerned. His preference is always established players who are usually around 30 years old and very expensive.

We were always a team of class. However, his media handling has been increasingly ridiculous; which becomes a bit shameful for the team. Even though he was harassed by some fans, as the team manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world, he shouldn’t have some of the irritating and distasteful he has. 

The hiring of Mourinho is against every thing that Manchester United stands for. I’d rather have the team stick to our traditions and lose more than win a few games by not being ourselves.

Failed leadership

I am a big believer of the idea that leadership is about taking the bullets for the team. Mourinho isn’t like that. He chastises the players publicly and throws them under the bus. Sure, some players have an attitude issue, but managing them internally and discreetly is his job. Instead, he regularly complains about the players and singles them out in the press. He lost the locker room at Real Madrid and Chelsea badly. It seems that he is losing the one at MU as well. It is, first and foremost, his fault that the team doesn’t perform well. As the team manager, it is hard to deny his accountability. 

A manager in sports should be similar to a manager in business. When the team succeeds, you bask in the glory with everyone, but the credit should go to those around you. When the team hits trouble, you are the first in line to take the bullets. That’s what I believe leadership is, no matter what other definitions of the term say. Also, the manager has to fit the culture of the team. In some cases, an outliner may bring unexpected changes, but it’s not what usually works. In that sense, Mourinho is clearly a failure stemming from cultural mismatch and poor display of leadership. He has to go and the sooner that happens, the better it is for everyone, including himself. 

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