Jose Mourinho explains problem with Man Utd structure before Sir Jim Ratcliffe deal

  • Jose Mourinho was Man Utd manager from 2016 until 2018
  • Ex-boss speaks with Rio Ferdinand about his time at the club
  • Offers thoughts on former CEOs Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold

Jose Mourinho has looked back on his time as Man Utd boss
Jose Mourinho has looked back on his time as Man Utd boss / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Ex-Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has opened on the difficulties he faced during his two years in charge of the team, admitting that he struggled without direct communication with the Glazer family and found former chief Ed Woodward to be like a "fish out of water".

But Mourinho is hopeful that changes to the structure already being implemented by new investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe – like the appointment of Omar Berrada – will improve things.

At a time when the way top football clubs are run was changing anyway, United were left with two huge voids to fill in 2013 when manager Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill both decided to leave. Woodward, whose professional expertise was shaped in business and finance, struggled to get to grips with the nuance of football. Mourinho's tenure came to a relatively abrupt end in 2018 a few months after the Old Trafford hierarchy had failed to land him his top transfer targets.

"When people criticise Ed Woodward's job, I don't like it because, for me, he is a good man," Mourinho told Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE, defending his former boss.

"He was just a man that was probably not like a fish in the water. He was very intelligent, very polite, very correct, but probably not prepared for the sports side.

Mourinho added, "It was difficult for a coach not to have a direct communication with the ownership. It was also difficult for a coach not to have a structure that shares the same principles and the same ideas, which was not easy with consequences at many levels."

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Despite his issues, Mourinho also praised Richard Arnold, who was group managing director specialising in the commercial side of the business and later succeeded Woodward as chief executive until his own departure from Old Trafford last year. But Arnold, who was "a proper guy with a good understanding of what sport is" was still not a "football man".

It leaves Mourinho with optimism that Ratcliffe, who has already enjoyed success through his other sporting investments, will take the club back to its former heights.

"I know Sir Jim Ratcliffe. I know him very well, we had a good relationship from years ago and I have a very, very good feeling. He is also a sports man and he loves it, which I think is a very important thing," Mourinho explained.

"He comes with experience from other experiences; smaller clubs; other sports; cycling. I have a good feeling that things can go in the right direction, and I hope so."

During the interview, Mourinho also denied recent speculation linking him with a return to United, with reports claiming he considers himself to have "unfinished business" at the club.