Ever since he arrived on these shores in 2004, proclaiming himself ‘the special one’ in a press conference announcing his appointment as manager of Chelsea, there’s little doubt that Jose Mourinho has been an absolute dream for the media. The Portuguese 55-year-old simply always seems to be saying or doing something worthy of reporting.
Over the decade and a half during which English football fans have been familiar with him, though, the media has changed considerably. Facebook was just a few months old upon his arrival at Chelsea, and during the three years of his first reign at the London club, a medium that has become perfect for football gossip was founded in the form of Twitter. As his career took him to Inter Milan, Real Madrid, back to Chelsea and most recently to Manchester United, more and more people become au fait with how to use social media and follow breaking events as they happen.
Yesterday morning, in the wake of his side’s dismal 3-1 defeat against Liverpool at the weekend, Mourinho was sacked as United manager, and Twitter went absolutely bonkers.
A look at some of the trending topics as of yesterday afternoon gives an insight into the extent to which the sacking dominated Twitter. Mourinho himself was not surprisingly at the top, with #ManchesterUnited also in there. ‘Poch’, the nickname of Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, who many believe might be Mourinho’s successor at Old Trafford, was also being hotly tweeted, as was David Moyes – the last-but-one United manager who Mourinho recently appeared to partially blame for the club’s current woes.
Mourinho rarely needs anyone to help him create drama, but an interesting side plot throughout his time in Manchester has been his relationship with French midfielder Paul Pogba. Despite being the club’s record signing and a World Cup winner this year, it’s no secret that Pogba and Mourinho have not always seen eye to eye, and the midfielder has found himself on the substitutes’ bench in the last three games.
Several of Pogba’s tweets could be seen as veiled criticisms of Mourinho, such as this one in which his says he does his utmost for “the fans and my teammates”, but neglects to mention his manager.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) August 10, 2018
He has also complained that some people are two quick to create “polemic”, with this tweet featuring possibly the weakest and clumsiest pun of all time in ‘Pogoodmorning’.
Some people make polemic even from “good morning” to create drama 🙄 Big Pogoodmorning everyone hope u get it twisted 😂
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) September 24, 2018
Undoubtedly blessed with ability, but often seen as immature and not fulfilling his potential, Pogba remains a divisive figure among United fans. This will only have intensified with a cryptic tweet he briefly posted straight after Mourinho’s sacking, before quickly deleting it.
Among those not impressed with Pogba’s social media actions was former Red Devils captain Gary Neville, who replied “You do one as well!”
Giving Pogba the benefit of the doubt, a look through his timeline shows a theme of regular ‘Caption this’ tweets, so it’s possible that he or a social media manager had scheduled this in advance and the timing turned out to be very unfortunate. Ex-pros seem somewhat less charitable in their views though, with Liverpool legend turned pundit Jamie Carragher describing the tweet as “very ill-advised”.
Even that wasn’t the end of the online madness emanating from Old Trafford yesterday, as Norwegian former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to be accidentally confirmed as interim manager on the club’s website before the post was quickly deleted. Solskjaer has been given the role this morning, however.
The social media reaction over the axe falling on Mourinho reminds us that nothing gets us talking like controversial characters. Without naming names, various characters have become big hits on Twitter through doing little more than tweeting shocking statements. Mourinho and Pogba would no doubt like to think of themselves as sportspeople rather than polemicists, but they are undoubtedly controversial personalities. With pantomime season well underway, it appears you can decide for yourself who the heroes and villains are in this story.