After a disappointing start to the campaign, money has come flooding in for Jose Mourinho to be the first Premier League manager to lose their job in the 2018/19 season.
Starting the term as a 6/1 shot behind the likes of Claude Puel and Rafa Benitez, the artist formerly known as the Special One is now the 7/2 favourite in the market after his Manchester United side’s difficult start.
They were somewhat fortunate to see off Leicester in the season’s opener, before being soundly beaten by Brighton on Sunday.
Mourinho is far from universally loved at Old Trafford, and with previous of being out of the door early in a season, the Portuguese gaffer might be well served to spend an evening soon sharpening up his CV on Microsoft Word.
Fixture List Peril for the Special One
With his side seemingly struggling to gel – not aided by some calamitous defending on the south coast on Sunday, Mourinho will be keeping one eye on a run of fixtures that looks dangerous to say the very least.
Tottenham are the visitors to Old Trafford a week today, and clearly they pose a significant threat despite their poor record on United’s home soil.
Then comes a pair of fixtures that under-pressure managers dread: those matches which you should be winning, but are more difficult than they look on paper. Burnley and Watford away will not be simple tasks.
If United take just three points from that trio of matches, for example, the pressure on the beleaguered boss will be red hot.
Mourinho has been shown the exit door early in a campaign before – you may recall his December dismissal from Chelsea in his torrid final couple of months at the club, and indeed he is as short as 8/11 to leave Manchester United before Christmas Day 2018.
Where Has it All Gone Wrong at United?
Manchester United haven’t seriously challenged for the Premier League title since 2012/13, which in no coincidence was the last that Sir Alex Ferguson took the helm for.
The Red Devils have been struggling to find the right personality to replace that club legend ever since, with Louis van Gaal and David Moyes failing to capture the imagination.
The problem with Mourinho is his ego; that monumentally-sized chip on his shoulder meaning that he would rather not lose than go out and win matches. Remember United’s trip to Anfield last season when they barely got over the halfway line? That was classic Mourinho parking the bus, and confirmation that his ego will not allow him to set his players free.
It’s bizarre, really, given the amount of money he shells out on attacking players, while inheriting potential young stars like Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.
Mourinho, simply, will not allow them to express themselves, instead giving them a raft of defensive instructions to follow. It’s no wonder that the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba walk around their pitch looking completely shell-shocked at times.
The players are not completely blameless, of course, but a similar thing happened at Chelsea when they went from title winners to mid-table mediocrity in the space of a couple of months. Mourinho’s relationship with Eden Hazard, in particular, deteriorated to the extent that they barely spoke by the end of his reign of terror.
Mou Has Lost His Smile
You may just recall June 2004, when Jose Mourinho came to England for the first time as a manager with Chelsea.
He was something of a cheeky chappy in those days, slightly arrogant – he did christen himself the Special One after all – but quick to smile when exchanging banter with the press.
Fourteen years later, the smile has been replaced with an omnipresent scowl, and you do wonder if that attitude rubs off on his players; they certainly didn’t seem to be at the races against either Leicester or Brighton.
His relationship with the media has become increasingly fractious as well. There’s that ‘the whole world is against me’ feeling whenever he has to give a press conference or interview – even when United have won a game, and you can imagine the club’s fans tearing their hair out as Mourinho once again blames anyone but himself for a below-par performance.
Rumours are circulating in the press that Zinedine Zidane is being lined up to replace Mourinho, and at this moment in time the Portuguese gaffer looks to be a prime bet in the Next Premier League Manager to Leave market.