LONDON • Jose Mourinho has bemoaned the power wielded by modern players and suggested that clubs ought to be structured to empower managers to deal with it.
Speaking to beIN Sports where he was appearing as an analyst, the former Manchester United manager said: "The phrase I kept with me was when Sir Alex (Ferguson) told me, 'The day a player is more important than the club, goodbye'.
"The manager is there to coach them. Not to keep discipline at any cost."
Mourinho joined United in May 2016 and was sacked last month after a 3-1 defeat by Premier League leaders Liverpool.
During his tenure, the club won the League Cup and the Europa League, but they made a slow start to this season as the manager fell out with a number of their star players, notably Paul Pogba.
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge until the end of the season, the club have won six games in a row and are now six points off the top four in the Premier League.
Pogba has been instrumental in midfield in that run, while attackers such as Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have also been playing with a freedom not afforded to them by their former coach.
Mourinho, 55, is understood to have a non-disclosure agreement with the club, which prevents him from discussing the specific circumstances of his departure. But his words will be interpreted by many as a swipe at the United players with whom he clashed.
"In modern football, there is a problem between the coach and the player," he added.
"We are not in a time any more where the coach, by himself, is powerful enough to cope and to have a relationship of education and sometimes confrontation with players who are not the best professionals.
"A club must be very well organised to cope with these kind of situations, where the manager is only the manager and not the man who is trying to keep the discipline or educate the players.
"The structure must be there to protect the manager and for the players to feel that they are not going to arrive into a situation where they feel more powerful than they used to be."
The former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto manager ruled himself out of the running for the Benfica job last week but confirmed that he intended to continue managing at a "top level".
"I am too young (to retire). I am in football for a long, long time, but I will be 56 in a couple of weeks and am really too young," he said.
"I want to coach. I belong to top-level football and that is where I am going to be."
THE TIMES, LONDON