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Jose Mourinho will be sacked by Christmas, predicts Lee Sharpe
Former United hero unimpressed by the manager
Last Updated: 20/08/18 9:16pm
Former Manchester United star Lee Sharpe expects Jose Mourinho to be sacked by Christmas. Adam Bate caught up with him to find out why he is so unimpressed with the manager – on and off the pitch.
Asked about what he expects to see at Manchester United this season and Lee Sharpe is typically forthright. "I am expecting the manager to get sacked before Christmas," he tells Sky Sports. "If he is going to continue with this dourness and this moaning, then people will turn around and say this attitude is not getting us to the top so we need to change it.
"It just seems same old same old. As much as the press and fans have been on Jose Mourinho's case about the negativity over the past few seasons and him moaning about players he has and has not got, he just seems to ignore everybody and carry on as usual. He looks fed up and it is reflecting in his team's performances. He is playing negative stuff.
"As a player, you come back for pre-season, you've had a break and you've missed football by the time you come back. You're excited and you're eager. You're like a schoolboy again. To then come back and have a lot of negativity and dourness around the place is not great. It is just not a nice way to start the season. It looks like it could be a long slog.
"I just think the way he is going about his business, I don't think he is getting the best from the players. This team has some unbelievable attacking players but I don't think they are on the front foot enough, I don't think they are playing at a quick enough tempo and I don't think they move the ball enough. They give teams a chance to get back and get organised.
"He has so many options going forwards, it is a shame that he wants to play the way that he wants to play. It didn't work last year against a rampant Manchester City and if things aren't working you have to learn from your mistakes and change something. He needs to change but he just seems to be too stubborn to alter his approach."
Sharpe knows what it is like to play in a free-flowing Manchester United team. He was part of the famous side that did the Premier League and FA Cup double in both 1994 and 1996, but it is not just on the pitch he sees key differences between that United and this one. Off the pitch, he has been unimpressed by Mourinho's man-management skills.
"One of the things you respected about Sir Alex Ferguson is that he kept things in house," he says. "It was done in his office and the dressing room. Nothing ever went to the press in terms of issues he had with players. I think Mourinho could do with taking a leaf out of his book and using that. Nobody digs out their players in public. He is hanging them out to dry.
"I think it's been psychologically proven that it doesn't work for anybody. It is an old-school football mentality and I think psychology-wise we will find that it just doesn't work. You don't send a pilot up in the air telling him he's rubbish at his job and that if he gets things wrong he's going to be in trouble, because he has got a lot of lives at risk.
"Likewise, you don't tell anyone in business or whatever trade they're in that they're rubbish. It's about making them happy and making them comfortable. They need to be aware that they can make mistakes, learn from them and improve. You need to be straight with people but I don't think you need to be knocking people and putting them down."
Mourinho actually refused to criticise his players following the 3-2 defeat to Brighton on Sunday but it could be a case of too little too late. The manager's relationship with Paul Pogba has come under particular scrutiny and Sharpe believes Mourinho must consider treating his captain differently if he is to get the best from him.
After all, Ferguson made allowances for special players at United, didn't he? "Sir Alex made allowances for one player," laughs Sharpe. "Everyone else got treated pretty brutally but Eric Cantona certainly got singled out for special treatment. But it is down to the manager to motivate and get the best from his players and Mourinho is not doing it.
"For example, I always lacked a bit of confidence in my ability. So a rollicking and telling me I was rubbish was not very constructive with me. I understand that sometimes you need people to be brutally honest, but once you have had that you need a team and staff around you that can help you do what's needed. That's what being in a team is all about.
"These days you have to understand that no two people are alike and you can't treat two people the same. It is horses for courses and you treat people accordingly. Paul Pogba is a special talent, a special individual and a special character. It might be different to how you treat other people but you have to do what you have to do to get the best from him.
"That's what everybody wants to see, the Paul Pogba who rips everyone to shreds for France. It doesn't happen enough at United. I don't know why that is. Is it Mourinho? Does he put too many restrictions on him? Does he put him under too much pressure? I'm not sure but it needs to be sorted out for United to have any chance this season.
"You see Pep Guardiola and he is hugging his players and they are loving him. He is smashing teams and they can't get out of their own half because City are all over them like a rash. I understand that you don't have to play that way but that is the way that the best teams are playing these days. I think Liverpool will be the biggest threat to City not United.
"If you look at City, they have come back flying and Liverpool have done the same. It is going to be hard enough as it is this season to be successful so the last thing you need is for people in your own camp to be making it that bit harder and heavier than it needs to be."
Lee Sharpe was speaking at the McDonald's & West Riding FA Community Football Day in Bradford. These football days are taking place across the UK this summer, giving thousands of children the chance to enjoy the game. www.mcdonalds.co.uk/communityfootballdays