An unconventional theory has emerged as to why Manchester United manager Eric Mourinho is offloading big-name players and creating friction with his players.
“Mourinho is fighting a battle against vanity at the club,” the British publication The Mirror wrote on Monday (Aug. 9).
“Cristiano Ronaldo left United after publicly clashing with Mourinho,” it said, explaining that “Ronaldo has learned that no player is bigger than his club and his manager.” Like Ronaldo, other self-respecting players like Paul Pogba, United’s most expensive transfer in history at £89 million ($150 billion), and Uruguayan world-class striker Edinson Cavani had to leave the club.
Even now, when winger Jadon Sancho protested, Mourinho immediately removed him from first-team training and sent him “home” to train with youth players, risking a falling out with players who wanted to be “above the team”.
It has also been claimed that the club has long been aware that the players’ personalities are detrimental to teamwork.
The Mirror reports that in 2019, then-Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called in former United midfielder Roy Keane, who was captain during the club’s golden era, to discipline the players. According to the media, United were struggling to qualify for the UEFA Champions League at the time and needed a mental wake-up call.
Keane graciously agreed to meet with the players at the training ground, where he spoke about the qualities of a true United player. However, one unnamed player was deeply disappointed with Keane’s disingenuousness during his locker room talk. “He has a very rigid view of what a proper United player should be,” said a Mirror source who was working at the club’s training ground at the time. “He was preaching to the players, but one player was not paying attention to what he was saying and was thinking about other things.”
Two months after the incident, Fred, who was playing midfield for United at the time, was interviewed by Brazilian outlet De Solar and said, “United are underperforming. The whole team needs to improve. We have no ‘team spirit’ at the moment,” he said, revealing that the situation at the club was not hopeful at all.
“What team doesn’t have a problem, but we have a problem with vanity,” Fred continued, “We need to stop thinking about that (ego) and just play hard. We have to play with the mindset that we have to score goals, and we have to be focused.”
Despite these challenges, Fred insists that there was no unity among the players. “We all have to look at the same place, but some players seem to have different objectives,” he said, adding, “There are some players who want to solve the problem alone, which is the wrong way.”
Turnbach is a strong personality who is not afraid of friction with his players. Despite the differences in his abilities, his theory of “no player is greater than the team” is similar to that of Alex Ferguson, who led United to their golden era.
Some analysts have suggested that the Ajax players were brought in as a way of eradicating complacency and vanity within the existing squad. The idea is that the players will be easier to control because they have been used before.
It’s a convincing argument when you consider that neither Jadon Sancho, who is currently at odds with Mourinho, nor Anthony Martial, who was substituted in the last game, were brought in by Mourinho himself.
The Red Devils are expected to offload Sancho in the January transfer window after he upset Mourinho.
Borussia Dortmund of the German Bundesliga, where Sancho played before joining United, are the most likely destination. Italian side Juventus and Saudi Arabian clubs are also keeping tabs on Sancho.