Paul Stewart column: Manchester United’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’ or a house of horrors?

The miserable Jose Mourinho is at a career crossroads and his status as Special One is becoming a distant memory
The miserable Jose Mourinho is at a career crossroads and his status as Special One is becoming a distant memory

It isn’t widely broadcast, apart from within the family circle, that I am a lifelong Manchester United fan.

For obvious reasons I never mentioned it when I played for Man City, but ever since my older brother took me to Old Trafford as a young boy and I stood on the Stretford End, I have supported the Red Devils.

I watched my childhood heroes, such as Joe Jordan, Stuart (Pancho) Pearson, Stevie Coppell, Gordon Hill, Lou Macari, Martin Buchan etc....

I have supported them through the good and bad times and gloated when they dominated the Premier League over the past 20 years with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.

I have taunted my son, brother-in-law and nephew, who are avid Liverpool fans, rubbing their noses in it over LFC not winning the title or many trophies, while Man Utd were consistently filling the Old Trafford trophy room.

I have marvelled at the ‘Class of 92’ and admired players like Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson and even Roy Keane, who I played against.

I am now struggling to hold my own and receive constant stick from the Anfield crew about my club’s demise.

In my second Gazette article I reviewed the Premier League title contenders and alluded to the fact that all was not well at Man U; this before even a ball had been kicked.

Well, after back-to-back defeats it is clear that problems do exist and that some of their star players are looking to exit.

One wonders if Jose Mourinho will make it to Christmas as boss.

I have to admit that, when Man Utd appointed him, I thought the long search for Sir Alex’s successor was over.

I was a fan of his in his first spell at Chelsea, and I enjoyed watching and listening to his pre- and post-match comments.

I thought he was a breath of fresh air and you couldn’t ignore that his players – the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba – loved playing under him.

His nickname of ‘Special One’ fitted his persona.

So when, in his first season at Utd, he delivered trophies it seemed a match made in heaven.

But even then the Utd faithful were grumbling about his tactics, especially his ‘park the bus’ attitude in big games.

The Man Utd supporters over decades have watched their team play open, attacking football, even when they were without a title for 26 years before Sir Alex took the reins and the heady days followed.

I now feel that Jose has come to a crossroads, not just with the club but also over the fans’ perception of the once aptly named ‘Special One’.

His team at present couldn’t park a car, never mind a bus.

He is at odds, it would seem, with his star player.

And the fact that the board didn’t back him in his attempt to buy a much-needed centre-half only cements the fact that all is not well within the club.

Jose now constantly argues with the media and his interviews are becoming tiresome as he battles against what he feels is unfair criticism.

I would like to see the Jose of old, a manager who you could see bonded with his players and shared in their success and failure as a team, a manager who looked like he enjoyed his job and revelled in the media attention.

But it would seem that Jose has gone and the once ‘Special One’ is for now a distant memory.

A a longtime Man Utd fan, I would ask Jose to please review some of your past interviews when you were winning at Chelsea, and, if possible, put a smile back on the fans’ faces, with the attacking football that they yearn for.