Man United are set to take on Sevilla in the Champions League tonight, and the question on everyone’s lips is ‘Will Paul Pogba play?’. If the current rumours emanating from Old Trafford are to be believed, there has been a massive breakdown in communication between the talented Frenchman and his demanding manager Jose Mourinho – rumours that Mourinho has dismissed as ‘lies’. Yet fans would be forgiven for assuming that all is not well within the Man United squad at the moment, and a quick look as Jose Mourinho’s patchy track record with star players, could give us some clues as to what is going on behind the scenes.
Here are 7 players that have dared to cross Mourinho in the past.
Mourinho has clashed with numerous players over the years, but his most high profile feud happened during his time as Real Madrid manager, when his disagreement with legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas became one of the football stories of the year. Casillas was Mr. Real Madrid. The supporters loved him, the players loved him, and football fans all over the world respected his dedication to club and country. Prior to Mourinho’s arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu, Casillas’ loyalty was without question, but following a phone call between the goalkeeper and Barcelona captain Xavi, things began to take a turn for the worse.
Mourinho saw Casillas as a traitor. He disliked the fact that Casillas questioned his tactics, had a strong aversion to his journalist girlfriend, and was critical of his performances. When rumours began to circulate that Casillas had been leaking information of his spat with Mourinho to the media, even Real Madrid’s fans began to turn against him. Before long, Mourinho had signed a replacement goalkeeper in Diego Lopez, and Casillas was shipped off to Porto.
Samuel Eto’o was a key figure in Mourinho’s treble winning Inter Milan side of 2009/10; however, when they pair became reacquainted at Chelsea in 2013, their relationship suffered, due to a bizarre joke about Eto’o’s age. Following allegations in the media that Eto’o had lied about his age in order to extend his football career, Mourinho was caught on tape stating: “I have Eto’o but he is 32 years old, maybe 35, who knows?” The former Barca man failed to see the funny side of his manager’s comments, later calling Mourinho a “puppet” and a “fool”. The two appeared to patch things up shortly after however, when Eto’o entertained fans with his infamous ‘old man’ celebration after scoring against Spurs.
Spanish winger Pedro Leon signed for Real Madrid from Getafe in 2010, during the Manuel Pellegrini era. When Mourinho took over the following year, he was immediately critical of Leon, calling the youngster “no Zinedine Zidane”. It was even reported that Mourinho once told Leon, that if the team plane crashed any everyone on it died except you, you would still be on the bench the following week – ouch! Leon went on to claim that he was a victim of workplace bullying during his time at Madrid, before swiftly being sold back to Getafe.
David Luiz had been an integral part of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League winning side, but when Jose Mourinho returned to the club in 2013, the Brazilian soon found himself out of favour. Mourinho was keen to continue with the centre-back pairing of Gary Cahill and John Terry, leaving Luiz out in the cold. He was quickly sold to PSG, with Jose claiming that he “would not be missed”. The centre-back is alleged to have been outraged by Mourinho’s decision, holding a grudge against the Portuguese to this day. When PSG faced Chelsea in the Champions League in 2015, Luiz said that Mourinho was “not special” before basically suggesting that Chelsea would try and park the bus. This feud is far from over if you ask us.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was another victim of Jose’s ruthlessness, when he was frozen out of the picture as soon as Mourinho became Man United manager in 2016. During his time at Bayern Munich, Schweiny had become one of the most decorated footballers of his generation, but having failed to impress at Old Trafford under Louis Van Gaal, he soon found his playing time limited. Despite this, the German midfielder remained a firm favourite amongst United fans, who were shocked to see how he was being treated by their new manager. Some of his former Bayern teammates also voiced their outrage at the situation. The saga eventually ended when Schweinsteiger pushed for a move to MLS side Chicago Fire. Mourinho would later come to regret the entire affair, revealing that he had personally apologised to Schweinsteiger before the German left Old Trafford.
Kevin De Bruyne
Jose Mourinho has never been one for admitting his mistakes, but he made an absolute whopper in failing to recognise the unparalleled brilliance of Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne. Having arrived at Chelsea from Genk for an estimated £7 million, De Bruyne was immediately tipped as one of the Premier League’s future stars. Following a successful loan spell at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, De Bruyne rejoined Chelsea, where he was assured a place in the squad by a returning Jose Mourinho. Six months later, Mourinho deemed the midfielder surplus to requirements, and De Bruyne was shipped off to Wolfsburg. A year later he was named Footballer of the Year in Germany. Whilst De Bruyne is not necessarily involved in a feud with Mourinho, he will forever serve as a reminder of the Portuguese’s biggest mistake.
Mourinho’s spell at Real Madrid was scattered with minor feuds and bickering. Casillas, Ronaldo, and Pepe were all subjected to harsh treatment by their fierce manager, but the only player willing to fight back was Sergio Ramos. After Mourinho unfairly substituted midfielder Mesut Ozil during a match between Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna, Ramos decided to wear Ozil’s shirt under his own in a display of solidarity. He went on to claim that Mourinho didn’t understand the Real Madrid dressing room, spoke out against his treatment of Iker Casillas, and even pretended not to know who Mourinho was after he left the club in 2013. Don’t expect Ramos to sign for Man United any time soon.