Belfast Telegraph

More a brand than a club: Northern Irish United fans debate future after Jose Mourinho's sacking

Jose Mourinho’s final game in charge of United was at Anfield (Peter Byrne/PA)
Jose Mourinho’s final game in charge of United was at Anfield (Peter Byrne/PA)

Northern Irish Manchester United fans are looking to the future with mixed feelings after Jose Mourinho was axed by the club on Tuesday morning.

United announced that an interim boss would be appointed to guide the club to the end of the season before a more permanent replacement was found.

With the Red Devils in sixth place in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, we spoke to two local fans on the rights and wrongs of the situation.

Lagan MUFC Supporters Club secretary Robert Reid fully backed the club's decision to dismiss Mourinho.

"100%," he said. "The writing was on the wall. I've been going to matches since 1972 and as a club we have 108 members. Usually we find it hard to get tickets but that hasn't been the case lately. We were told it was no problem.

"If they're not getting bums on seats and it's going to impact the club financially, they're not going to put up with it for too long.

"I haven't seen it like that since well before Fergie's era.

"Mourinho spent over £300m and brought in 12 players and he still didn't have a starting XI. He bought the likes of Bailly, Lindelof and Fred and they're not good enough."

Reid was also critical of Mourinho's treatment of his players.

"You don't ridicule your players in front of the media," he said. "I'm a foreman in Bombardier and if I have anything to say to any of my guys, I wouldn't do it in front of everybody else. We talk about it privately."

For Portstewart MUC Supporters Club secretary Darren McColgan, it wasn't quite so simple, questioning the role of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and the Glazers, who own the club.

"There are bigger problems than Jose Mourinho," he said. "For me, the man who's doing the hiring and firing should be going and he should take the owners with him. That's the view of a lot of supporters. The problems run a lot deeper."

McColgan did agree that player recruitment has been questionable and had an interesting hypothesis for the reasoning behind it.

"Manchester United has become more of a brand than a football club," he said.

"It's all about handshakes and hairstyles. It's about being a brand. Manchester United is like Coca Cola. We're signing players like Paul Pogba thinking about how many shirts he will sell."

So who is the man to take permanent charge, when the club appoint make the long-term appointment come the summer?

The fans disagreed - Robert opting for former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, while Darren claimed that move would be 'another circus'.

"He has the experience with Real Madrid," said Robert. "He's been there and done it and people look up to him. I think players would want to come and play for him, as it was with Mourinho. United haven't had that in recent seasons."

Darren, on the other hand, agrees with Gary Neville that Mauricio Pochettino should be the next man in charge.

"Pochettino hasn't had a lot of money to spend at Tottenham and he gives young player a chance," he said. "Yes, he hasn't won any trophies but he has to start somewhere and I think he'd be a good fit for United.

"But the problem remains that throwing money at changing managers isn't going to change what's going wrong at the club."

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