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X Factor to Ex-Factor! Jose's on his way out.

Byline: NEIL MOXLEY

IT'S been a long 14 years since Jose Mourinho smashed his way into English football.

With all the finesse of a rhino wearing a tutu, he breezed in and took a sledgehammer to the established order.

His arrogance was blatant, but it didn't take us long to discover why he considered himself the Special One.

The media was in the palm of his hands, too. He cracked gags about the size of eggs at Waitrose and we lapped it up.

Electricity was in the air every time he stepped into a press conference.

He had the X Factor before the term was even invented.

He was every bored housewife's secret fantasy. Film-star good looks, an unmistakeable aura and an unshakeable belief in himself and his managerial methods.

Sir Bobby Robson's former translator had set himself up for a fall.

We waited for it. And we waited.

And we waited.

But there was no way Mourinho was going to stumble.

He created the modern-day giant that Chelsea has become.

They were an antidote to the duopoly that Manchester United and Arsenal had established at the turn of the millennium.

But what the festive period has shown us is that Manchester United manager Mourinho has become everything he wasn't when he rocked the Premier League.

His star is on the wane, his methods are no longer sexy.

Even his media appearances have become stale.

He has become almost a caricature. In fairness, he can still be box-office when the mood takes him and can be relied upon to keep inquisitors on their toes.

But the sheen, the charisma, has all but disappeared.

He's a pale shadow of his former self. A tired man overseeing tired football.

He's up one minute, down the next - and his methods are not groundbreaking any longer.

We now know what Jose Mourinho is about. He is a machine, fixated on winning, via old-fashioned defensive solidity, power and strength. Nothing wrong with that. Unless your neighbours are rewriting history on the other side of Manchester.

So what has happened to that bright-eyed, bushy-tailed whirlwind? He's picking fights with all-comers, amid persistent rumours that he will quit Old Trafford at the end of the season.

It brings to mind his latter days at Real Madrid, when results were poor and performances poorer.

And, of course, with Mourinho it's always someone else's fault - never his. The board of directors are to blame for not finding a spare PS300million to lavish on a squad that has already seen almost a quarter of a billion spent on it under Mourinho.

He has sounded off frequently about the atmosphere at Old Trafford - and it's never a wise move to question your own fans.

And now Reds legend Paul Scholes is in his cross-hairs because of his criticism of Paul Pogba.

Now, let's have this right. If there is one man on the planet who is fit to give a qualified opinion on playing in central midfield for Manchester United, it's Scholes.

And if Oldham's finest doesn't think French international Pogba is producing, he has every right to say it.

None of this is helped, of course, by Mourinho living out of a suitcase in a hotel, no matter how much he tries to persuade us otherwise.

Hotels can offer five-star luxury, but there is nothing like shutting your own front door at the end of the day.

But do you know what the biggest giveaway is? Mourinho in midweek said he was a manager who didn't need to appear "crazy" on the sidelines to prove his passion.

There was a time when a young Mourinho thought nothing of legging it from the dug-out to the corner flag to celebrate a goal at Old Trafford.

It's all pointing in one direction. The bonds are loosening and suitors Paris Saint-Germain are uncharted territory in France for the Portuguese.

What we have witnessed over the last few weeks is, despite his protestations, the beginning of the end of Mourinho at United.

You mark my words.

CAPTION(S):

Mourinho is now a pale shadow of the exciting boss who fired up the Premier League
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2018
Words:690
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