Former Manchester United star Lee Sharpe speaks to Gulf News at the Sheraton Deira Hotel Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho has broken football’s ‘golden rule’ of never criticising your own players in public, and may now never recover, according to Red Devils legend Lee Sharpe.

Several United players have fallen foul of Mourinho in his two and a bit years at Old Trafford, and now the ill-feeling is irreversible, says Sharpe, who himself fell out with former coach Sir Alex Ferguson.

 Mourinho doesn’t seem to pour out enthusiasm and happiness, which is what you need around the dressing room, especially when times are tough.”

 - Lee Sharpe | Former United player


“Fergie got himself into a few sticky situations, but he always dealt with them behind closed doors,” said the 47-year-old former midfielder, who will tee-off in the Swing Against Cancer DSA Open at Emirates Golf Club on September 13.

“Problems were dealt with in his office or the dressing room and nothing ever came out, and that’s a golden rule in football, you don’t out your own players.

“You don’t slate them because you want to get a good price for them, and on the other hand you might get a couple of injuries and need them yourself.

“It’s unheard of at the majority of clubs, never mind a club the size of United and I think it just goes to show that there’s an unhappiness in camp.”

United are currently 10th in the Premier League with six points from the opening four games, following defeats to Brighton and Tottenham.

“Mourinho doesn’t seem to pour out enthusiasm and happiness, which is what you need around the dressing room, especially when times are tough.

“Klopp and Guardiola seem to be happy and get their players up and on the front foot, but if you look at Mourinho’s personality and demeanour, it just seems to rub off on the team.

“It’s a long, hard season and to be complaining at this early stage seems an extra burden for the players,” he added of Mourinho’s public bitterness at not being able to sell striker Anthony Martial in order to bring in a centre-back.

“When you call yourself ‘the Special One’ you have to be able to rise above small hurdles. He’s obviously very stubborn and doesn’t want to change his ways because he’s been so successful.

“But I do think he needs to have another look and a plan B, because if he keeps playing dour football and is out of the top four by Christmas, I certainly think the club are going to have to reassess the situation.

“They can’t afford to be out of Europe for another season and if he’s not going to change his ways and change the way he plays and get the players playing better and more entertaining, free-flowing and attacking football, then I think the board will certainly consider having a look at things.

“I’m sure the board are thinking we’ve given you money to buy these players before and it’s not exactly worked. Maybe they are now thinking you deal with what you’ve got and if you’re not doing it then we’ve got money in the locker to give a new manager when he comes in at Christmas to spend in January.”

Asked if Mourinho is trying to get himself the sack, Sharpe replied: “Maybe, I’m sure he’s not short of a few quid, but why he wouldn’t walk if he was that unhappy I don’t know. It certainly looks like he’s trying to rock the boat.”

Of his own fallout with Ferguson, Sharpe, who scored 21 goals in 193 games for United between 1988 and 1996, said: “It was just a clash of personalities and a misunderstanding.

“He thought I wasn’t taking the game seriously because I was smiling and laughing all the time, but that was far from the truth.

“I was never going to come in scowling and serious just to make him happy. You don’t get to play for United very often so I enjoyed every minute of it. If that made him unhappy then there’s nothing I can do.

“He never really sat me down and had a chat, he just saw the surface of me smiling, laughing and joking and thought I was messing about.

“Anyone who’s ever played for him has seen a different side. At the end of the day, he was my boss, he had one idea of how things worked, and I had another.

“I couldn’t go around punching doors because I was nervous before every game.

“I tried to relax to be able to play the way I wanted and obviously I wanted to be the best every time, but it didn’t happen.

“He had different ways of seeing how I was performing and why I was the performing the way I was, but my life was different to what he saw.”