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Jose Mourinho’s Maniacal Death Bus: Reviewing Watford vs. Manchester United

In the first part of this week’s Premier League Review, we marvel at Jose Mourinho’s prolific use of metaphorical buses.
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Jose Mourinho has been accused of many things in his career, and most of them seem to be related to buses. He's often been denigrated for 'parking' the bus, especially during his two spells at Chelsea. Teams used to turn up at Stamford Bridge, full of gorgeous naiveté and attacking endeavour, only to find themselves shut out by two banks of four and their involuntary revulsion at the sight John Terry. This was 'the bus', the metaphorical form of public transport which Jose Mourinho had personally driven up and parked inconveniently in front of his goal. It was never quite explained how 'the bus' would catch teams out several times on the counter-attack but, hey, show us a footballing metaphor that doesn't fall down on internal consistency and practical sense.


Now that he's at Manchester United, Mourinho has been accused of 'throwing' his players under the bus. The latest person to be subjected to this horrendous form of vehicular manslaughter is Luke Shaw, who was blamed in no uncertain terms for the goal that downed United at Vicarage Road on Sunday. He follows Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard in meeting his doom under the wheels of a double-decker, after they were similarly slated for their poor performances against Manchester City last weekend. Mourinho seems to have gone full Grand Theft Auto, deliberately plowing through crowds of Premier League footballers, a maniacal bus driver with a death wish and a five-star police wanted level.

We're not sure whether we preferred it when Mourinho parked the bus, or whether we secretly quite enjoy watching him throw his players under its gory wheels. His press conferences are a form of entertainment in themselves at this point, in that we're never quite sure which of his own squad he's going to scapegoat next. For the players themselves, however, it must be quietly demoralising to be blamed for poor results in front of the assembled media. Mourinho employed roughly the same tactic during his disastrous last few months at Chelsea, and it certainly didn't help him to turn that situation around.

The truth of the matter is, whether or not Luke Shaw had a middling performance at right-back, Manchester United should have beaten Watford this weekend. Likewise, they shouldn't have lost to Feyenoord in the midweek, even if the match did come close on the heels of their chastening defeat to their cross-town rivals. United have assembled one of the most impressive, and expensive, squads in the Premier League, and it needs to be galvanised ahead of the visit of Leicester next weekend. That will require Mourinho to shore up their crumbling confidence, and not to walk it to a busy roadside and shove it in front of a passing National Express.