Jose Mourinho needs to “re-evaluate what he was up to at Manchester United”, says Gordon Strachan, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer impressing despite not being “the world’s greatest coach”.
A man with three Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns on an impressive CV was shown to the door at Old Trafford in December.
Mourinho was relieved of his duties after overseeing a disappointing start to the 2018-19 campaign which was played out against a backdrop of internal rift rumours and a supposed breakdown in his professional relationship with key players.
Solskjaer has come in and delivered a reversal in fortune, with former United midfielder Strachan admitting his surprise at how the Norwegian has fared since stepping into some sizeable shoes.
He told the Daily Star: “We all agree that, over the last 15 years, Mourinho has been one of the best tacticians in football and I thought it would be hard for Ole to replace someone like Jose and the presence he has got.
“I did not believe any manager could, actually. I didn’t think the kind of negativity coming from Jose could get to a group of players the way it did. I thought it needed more to rectify than man-management.
“I don’t know Ole that well but I couldn’t see him and his group being as good as Mourinho tactically.
So what he has brought in shows you there’s more to football.
“For all the seminars you get in sport psychology, all the systems, all the ‘Players have to drink x-amount of water, they have to be sleeping by such a time, they need two grams of rice’ – and the rest of it – it basically comes down to man-management.
“It just reaffirms that good people can change football clubs with drive. The attitude of the players has just changed completely, which is why Mourinho has to go away now and re-evaluate what he was up to at United.”
He could take a few lessons from Solskjaer, who has pushed United back into top-four contention and through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League despite boasting limited experience.
Strachan added: “I’ve heard Ole isn’t the world’s greatest coach but Sir Alex wasn’t the world’s greatest coach. He knew how to coach but for 25 years he didn’t do much coaching – he left that to others.
“He brought presence, discipline and footballing philosophy – things like passing the ball forward more – and that’s where modern football is at.
“It’s a lot simpler than people are making out. You’ll get caught up in it if you believe all these stats, but it’s the Emperor’s New Clothes.
“We know Ole is talking to Sir Alex and that’s good. He won’t be asking about tactics, he’ll be asking how he deals with being United manager on and off the park.
“When Alex first went to United, he had a similar set-up with Sir Matt Busby. Nothing technical, just how to deal with being the manager at that club.
“As a top manager, sometimes you can think you’re getting all the problems in the world and that it’s horrible. So it’s nice to sit and have a cup of tea with somebody who has been there, done that and survived – he’s okay, he’s not nuts.
“It’s just nice to talk to somebody who has been in your shoes and there are not many who have walked the road Ole is right now.
“Sir Alex may say, ‘I had that with David Beckham or Jaap Stam, this is how I solved it – try that’.
“There’s nothing wrong with getting help because if we’re saying players need psychologists, why can’t a manager get help? Your family doesn’t understand it, the coaches around you don’t really understand it. You need somebody who really knows what it’s all about.”