Jose Mourinho is reportedly set to be sacked as Manchester United manager this weekend. After weeks of speculation and scrutiny, the Daily Mirror reported on Friday evening that the 55-year-old will be axed irrespective of the outcome of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Newcastle.
Press Association Sport has been told that patience is wearing thin within the club’s hierachy, but Friday evening’s story appeared to catch United on the hop when contacted.
Poor performances have been compounded by off-field problems during an uncomfortable start to the season at Old Trafford, with the relationship between Mourinho and star Paul Pogba making unwanted headlines.
Last weekend’s 3-1 loss at West Ham made this the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 29 years and the Mirror’s report about the Portuguese’s future increases the focus on the Old Trafford encounter against Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle.
United are without a win in four matches in all competitions and when put to Mourinho ahead of the game that this kind of run for a club of this size is not acceptable, he said: “Yes, I accept (it is not good enough).”
Mourinho sat motionless when then asked if he could assure fans that he was doing everything he can to try to turn things around in a short press conference, held at the earlier than usual time of 8am on Friday.
That evening’s Mirror story overtook anything the Portuguese said and sent ripples around the football world.
Former United favourite Gary Neville was asked about it after Sky Sports’ coverage of Friday’s match between Brighton and West Ham.
Neville accused the United board of “playing Football Manager with the biggest club in the world” and said “the tail is wagging the dog at the football club”. He also said “there is something rotten to the core” at United.
Asked if it would be the right decision to sack Mourinho, Neville said after a long pause: “No. To be honest I’m furious.
“I’m furious going back three, four years ago when David Moyes was sacked, when it broke a day before to journalists.
“I think of Louis van Gaal being sacked the evening of a cup final and finding out from other people. I think about how the club’s been operated.
“If this is true, we don’t know if it’s true but if this is true and Jose Mourinho is going to walk out at Old Trafford tomorrow, as almost like a dead man walking, those fans will absolutely turn towards that boardroom. It’s unacceptable.
“And I have to say that Jose Mourinho will get the biggest support he’s ever had in his life tomorrow I think in that ground. And I’ll be there to give it to him.
“Because if this is true and it’s broken the day before it’s going to happen and he’s going to be sacked after the game or at the weekend, it’s an absolute disgrace.
“Where’s the values and the principles of Manchester United if this is true? That the journalists find out and it isn’t announced at the right time?
“At the end of the day this is now going on five or six years and I have to say that any manager – Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world – and I think in this moment in time any manager would struggle in that football club, the way in which requirement is handled, the way in which it operates.
“And enough is enough for me. I love that football club, I absolutely love it to death, it’s been my life, it’s given me everything, and I’m not turning on my football club, (but) I have to say something has to change and it isn’t the manager, it’s above that.
“And I’m furious that we’re stood here thinking that there’s a report that’s broken outjournalists don’t break stories of this nature unless they’re absolutely certain.
“I hope it’s not true, but if it is true I think it’s an absolute disgrace.”