Gary Neville has launched an impassioned criticism of Ed Woodward and the Manchester United board over their handling of Jose Mourinho and his predecessors.
Reports emerged on Friday night that Mourinho is set to be sacked this weekend regardless of the result on Saturday evening when Newcastle visit Old Trafford.
If the Daily Mirror is correct, then it would signal the third managerial chance under Woodward and the current board, with the dismissals of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal handled equally shabbily.
The press was briefed a day before Moyes was eventually put out of his misery in 2015, while Van Gaal learned through the media almost immediately after winning the FA Cup final in 2016 that he was to lose his job prior to Mourinho’s appointment.
Former United captain Neville was on punditry duty on Friday night for Brighton’s win over West Ham when the reports emerged. He was asked whether United were right to remove Mourinho, which prompted this response, the full transcript of which is found below.
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) October 5, 2018
“No. To be honest, I’m furious. I’m furious going back three, four years ago when David Moyes was sacked, when it broke a day before to journalists.
“I think of Louis van Gaal being sacked the evening of an FA Cup final and finding out from other people. I think about how the club is being operated.
“If this is true, we don’t know if it’s true, but if this is true, and Jose Mourinho is going to walk out at Old Trafford tomorrow almost like a dead man walking, those fans will absolutely turn towards that boardroom.
“It’s unacceptable, and I have to say that Jose Mourinho will get the biggest support he’s ever had in his life tomorrow in that ground. And I’ll be there to give it to him.
“Because look, at the end of the day this been going on for five or six years, and I have to say that any manager… Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world, and I think in this moment in time any manager would struggle in that football club.
“The way in which the recruitment’s handled, the way in which it operates… and enough’s enough for me.
“I love that football club. I absolutely love it to death. It’s been my life. It’s given me everything, and I have to say that something has to change and it isn’t the manager, it’s above that.
“I’m furious as I sit here thinking that there’s a report that broken out. Journalists don’t break stories of this nature unless they’re absolutely certain. I hope it’s not true, but if it is true I think it’s an absolute disgrace.
“It’s coming to a point where by when you’ve have an opportunity to appoint three or four managers, and this is the fourth manager in six years, you to start looking at not the manager, but the people who are appointed the manager, the people who are bringing in the players, the people who are sanctioning the deals, the people who are spending on players, the people who are allowing the tail to wag the dog.
“The dressing room is leading what’s happening, the tail is wagging the dog at the football club.
“Get some control back. Get some leadership. For me, at this moment in time, I’m furious. It’s been coming for three or four weeks.
“Undermining Jose on the eve of the season, explaining to journalists why he couldn’t sign those centre-backs.
“Who is qualified in that football club to be able to tell Jose Mourinho that Alderweireld, Maguire or Boateng are not better than the centre-backs they’ve got?
“Who is qualified in that football club? There’s only two people I can think of and they wouldn’t have been consulted – in fact we know they weren’t consulted: Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson.
“So for me, I’ve reacted maybe a little bit emotionally, but like I say I don’t particularly care any more to be honest, in respect of what I say.
“You can say it’s unprofessional but I have to speak as a fan and what I feel, and at the end of the day I’m on Sky Sports, I’m here as someone who offers a level of neutrality.
“It’s difficult running a football club. Its difficult managing a football club. It’s difficult playing in a football team. It’s not always easy, there are lots of challenges.
“But what you have to do is make sure you operate in the right manner, and I have to say in this moment in time there is something rotten to the core of the decisions that have been made in last four or five years, and it has to be coming from the top.
“If I’m the person who employs the guy underneath me and he fails, eventually I’ve got to take responsibility for it. Eventually I’ve got to stand up and say I’m not good enough to do this.
“And the people in the boardroom at this moment in time, if you look at who has overseen the football operation, are nowhere near good enough, not qualified. They’re playing Football Manager with the biggest club in the world.
“Stop it. Put people in who are qualified. And so, this is a big story that’s breaking, and tomorrow I might look stupid, but these thoughts still ring true.
“I hope Jose’s there next week. I actually like Jose Mourinho.
“When I saw that interview before the game tonight I was sad. I’m sad if he goes. And I have to say that looking at his face, he looked tired, he looked beaten, he looked fed up, he looked like he’d had enough.
“The players look they’ve had enough, the players look beaten. And I know some of those players and some of them are really good lads. They’re not bad lads. They’re not sat there thinking I don’t want to play well for Manchester United , but they just… anyway it is what it is. Let’s hope Liverpool and City both lose at the weekend!
“They knew what they were getting when they signed Jose Mourinho.
“He’s cantankerous, he’s somebody who doesn’t back down from confrontation, he will want teams who are ready to win now, and they undermined him in the summer.
“You can’t undermine your manager, simple as that.”