Eye On EPL

Eye On EPL: Special One may have gone too far again

It is a brand new season but the same old Jose Mourinho, as he blamed everyone but himself for Saturday's 2-1 Premier League defeat by Manchester City.

The derby loss is a shock to Manchester United and once again, the Portuguese is up to his old antics again when he criticised the players publicly for lacking in aggression and mental strength.

From my own experience as a footballer, such tongue lashings from managers does not work. Mourinho, of all people, should know this. Go too far with criticism and you can guarantee the dressing room will be lost.

Look at his history - Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas all lost form dramatically after The Special One said the Blues had "betrayed" him. At Real Madrid, he fell out with stalwarts such as Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. He was sacked by both clubs.

But that is who Mourinho is. He will tell you in your face what he thinks; he is too proud and stubborn to back down.

He is still one of the best managers in the world. With time, he can build United into a team to be feared again. He has the players, what he needs is patience.

In the S-League, I remember former Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng, who was critical of his players and that ultimately, cost the South Korean his job because the team did not deliver results.

There are cases when criticism works. The best example is Alex Ferguson, who is feared and respected throughout Old Trafford.

That is because he spent 27 years building United to what it is now. He has clashed with star players like Roy Keane and David Beckham and won each time. Even the club's board and its directors dare not step on his toes.

And when Ferguson criticises, his players usually take it in as a lesson learnt.

In contrast, Mourinho never spends more than four seasons at any of his clubs (Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real).

His job at United is made even more difficult because of all the expensive players in his team. Will record signing Paul Pogba tolerate repeated criticism?

It is definitely easier, and cheaper, to sack a manager than getting rid of unhappy players.

Against City, the Red Devils conceded two soft goals that suggested that Mourinho did not prepare his defence well.

The first goal by Kevin de Bruyne, especially, looked bad as United were totally caught out by a direct ball. I cannot imagine them conceding a goal like this had their former defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic played.

Make no mistake, Mourinho has a big job on his hands and this derby defeat, while painful, will not affect him long term.

He is still one of the best managers in the world.

With time, he can build United into a team to be feared again. He has the players, what he needs is patience.

And ironically, the defeat by City was indirectly caused by his criticism of a player.

He never rated de Bruyne at Chelsea and sold him. That probably motivated the Belgian to come back and haunt him at Old Trafford. How Mourinho must regret that but he will probably never admit that he is wrong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Special One may have gone too far again'. Print Edition | Subscribe