Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will hold crisis talks after a defeat to Brighton and a summer of unrest between players, manager and Ed Woodward.
Mourinho was plainly disappointed with Woodward’s failure to buy the players, and in the positions, he had asked for at the start of the summer, and his attitude has dragged down the players already at the club.
The United executives are worried that his abrasive approach might cause problems in the dressing room, though he has the hierarchy’s full backing for the moment, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
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There is also confidence for Woodward, the executive vice-chairman who has struggled to appoint the right man and give them the right backing for three consecutive appointments. By holding crisis talks, the board think Mourinho can clear the air.
The disappointing display against Brighton, where they lost 3-2 in calamitous fashion on Sunday, left Woodward conspicuously chewing the inside of his own face at the final whistle, and he is believed to have spoken to the players in their dressing room after the game – but not to Mourinho.
Captain for the first two games of the season, Paul Pogba admitted his attitude was not right for the game. This follows reports of a clash between Pogba and the ‘Special One’ the week before, where Mourinho allegedly told the World Cup winner to hand in a transfer request if he wanted to leave the club. The board are keen for the relationship to be patched up amid interest from Barcelona with the Spanish transfer window still open.
Matters with Pogba were further complicated when his agent Mino Raiola attacked former United player Paul Scholes on Twitter, following criticism of his client. Raiola said Scholes, ‘wouldn’t recognise a leader if he was in front of Sir Winston Churchill,’ and then added, ‘Paul Scholes should become sports director and advise Woodward to sell Pogba. Would be sleepless nights to find Pogba a new club’.
Mourinho has problems in the transfer market beyond Pogba. While the club want to keep Pogba, they also wish to keep Anthony Martial despite Mourinho wanting to sell the French forward after a summer when he was fined following the birth of his second child. Woodward delivered just Lee Grant, teenager Diago Dalot and Fred, failing to sign a central defender and right winger, as requested. Reports in the press, presumably from Woodward himself, paint the executive as confident in his ability to pick the right players for the club, instead of the manager.
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So another plane banner for the Spurs game..this will be interesting….let's hope it gets some traction from the media and puts more pressure on Woodward
— Crab Apple (@Michael94151346) August 21, 2018
There have been claims that the problem has been exacerbated by Woodward overseeing a modernisation of the club’s academy and scouting departments. A director of football is set to be appointed to take charge of transfers.
Club officials also claim not to understand pundit Gary Neville’s criticism of Woodward after the Brighton game. Neville said he was disappointed in his reaction to the defeat, saying it was not what he would, ‘want to see the CEO of Manchester United do’.
He added: ‘Stand up, shake the opposition CEO’s hand, smile, be bigger than anything and get into the back’.