Oct 21, 2017

Mourinho calls out ManU players' attitudes after loss at Huddersfield. Has he already lost the locker room?

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has made absolute no secret of his distaste for the team's attitude leading to its surprising loss to Huddersfield last night. The question is not only why the players had such poor attitudes (wouldn't that be at least partially instilled by the manager?) and if they have already stopped responding to Mourinho's methods. More on that in a bit. It's first worth going to the primary source on this to see exactly what Mourinho did and did not say because a lot has already been written about it and not all of it may capture the context correctly.

Mourinho's initial reaction below. He first says he doesn't want to be "critic with my players with you." Regarding the mistakes that led to Huddersfield's two goals, Mourinho says "I would be very unfair if I point the finger at the players involved." He concedes the better team won and that "honestly, I think we deserve the punishment of defeat":

Harsh words perhaps, but so far no mention of attitude. In the postgame press conference, Mourinho begins along the same lines, but mentions the team's attitude for the first time. "They beat us on attitude," he said. "When you lose a match on attitude, that's really bad." Mourinho then mentions an individual player, Ander Herrera by name. "I heard that Ander Herrera in the flash interviews saying the attitude and the desire was poor. Oh my god, when a player says that and when a player feels that, I think they should all go to the press conference and explain why, because I can't explain."

For the record, below is audio of one Herrera flash interview where he says Huddersfield "played with more passion than us the first 30 minutes." No mention of attitude, though it may be implied. There may be other interviews that Mourinho was referring to. If somebody has a link to one please supply it in the comments.

Mourinho in the full press conference also says he can't remember a friendly match "where our attitude was so poor." He said he didn't want to anticipate the players' reaction to the loss. "I feel really disappointed and if I was a Manchester United supporter...I would be really disappointed because you can play and lose football matches because the opponent had more quality than you. You cannot lose football matches because the opponent had better attitude than you."

So there you have it. A manager calling out his player for criticizing the team's attitude, but then agreeing with the player that attitude was at fault for the loss. The manager appealing to the fans and saying this is unacceptable. Who creates a team's attitude? Doesn't the manager set the tone? The players have free will as individuals but if they all, without exception, have the same (poor) attitude, then likely some external force is causing it. Something like their manager.

All of which makes it look like Mourinho's methods are not working. Of course, there could be other forces working on the players as a collective whole and causing their poor attitude. Something outside of Mourinho's control. But Mourinho controls a lot at Man United. At this point the question at least deserves to be asked whether he has already lost the dressing room.


  1. This is exactly why I said United shouldn't be top 5 in your list. We are riding luck in games earlier this season. And everyone knew this period between the international breaks would test us truly. We got some tough games before the next break and we could be 3rd or 4th by then. Same as last season where one team is running away with it although we are nowhere that level set by City. Incidentally, I am going to Chelsea United game which should be tasty.

    Regards, Jase (London, UK)

    1. Do you really think it's the same Man U as last season? Don't injuries, specifically Pogba's, make a major difference?

      Suffice it to say Man United will not make next week's list!