Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Viera has urged Jose Mourinho to change his approach at Manchester United this season.
The 53-year-old has encountered a rocky start to life at Old Trafford, managing just two Premier League wins since August – a record that leaves Man United nine points adrift of fourth spot.
Mourinho, who has the backing of a hierarchy ‘encouraged’ by his style of football despite poor domestic results, successfully guided his side to the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday.
Vieira, who won the 2008-09 Serie A title under Mourinho, believes the Portuguese needs to alter his approach to accommodate the big characters in the current squad.
“It’s very difficult for him,” he said.
“When you arrive in Manchester with the seasons they have had before with [Louis] Van Gaal and [David] Moyes, it’s a bit more difficult. I don’t know if he’s lost the plot.
“I don’t think he’s changed his philosophy or tactics. I think he’s got the same approach, because he’s always about confrontation, he’s the boss.
“Perhaps his players aren’t as receptive, that the generation has completely changed. At Inter, we were quite an experienced group and he handled it well.
“The problem is almost certainly that there is a new generation and the message does not go through as well because there are players who perhaps stand up to him and perhaps aren’t afraid to say what they think. That makes things more difficult.”
Mourinho finds himself in charge of a team rife with embedded contrasts: there are, of course, big personalities and internationally recognised superstars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba; and then there are quieter, less established individuals like Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
A manager will always have to deal with varying personalities, and Mourinho has taken charge of a team still reeling from the lobotomising effect of the Louis van Gaal era. His main task this season lies with cultivating a new, more collective serial mentality, ensuring that every player – regardless of their natural temperament – adopts the same attitude when it comes to winning.