Former Chelsea striker Demba Ba has offered his views on why Jose Mourinho struggled to unify the dressing room while manager of Manchester United.
Mourinho, 58, spent two-and-a-half years in charge of the Red Devils after replacing Louis van Gaal at the helm. It was hoped he would be able to lift the club to the levels seen under Sir Alex Ferguson. David Moyes failed to do the business in a short stint and Van Gaal delivered just the FA Cup in two seasons.
Mourinho guided his charges to the EFL Cup and Europa League but could not clinch the league. His time at Old Trafford was marred by clashes with the media and public berating of players.
Ba worked under the Portuguese tactician during the 2013-2014 season as Mourinho returned for a second spell at Chelsea. He has now lifted the lid on how the ‘Special One’ tried to motivate his players.
And it seems as though his old school methods may have been out of vogue by the time he reached the Theatre of Dreams.
“He uses a lot of psychology on players, to see who are the strong characters,” Ba revealed to The Athletic. “One day he told us: ‘If you have a confidence problem, that’s your problem.’
“I think the players he originally had – Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack – were tough guys. They responded well to that kind of management.
“The younger generation need more encouragement and support. Their self-esteem isn’t built up as much. They’re affected by social media and other things, they might not respond to pressure that well.”
Mourinho knows how to ‘play the game’
Mourinho’s star has waned in recent years, with a seemingly unhappy stay at United followed by an unsuccessful spell with Tottenham. He has now returned to Italian football and is in the Roma dugout.
Early signs are positive, as the Giallorossi sit fourth in the Serie A standings after seven games. They have won five and lost two and are six points adrift of table-topping Napoli.
It remains to be seen how long the former Inter coach lasts in the Eternal City. And Ba feels it is only a matter of time before he starts to use his mind games on the players.
“Jose is the kind of guy who throws a bomb into the dressing room and sees who comes out alive,” he added. “At Chelsea, it was like, which mask is he going to put on today? Will he be the happy one, the sarcastic one, the sad one, the angry one?
“At a point, you don’t mind anymore because you know, he’s just playing with you. He plays the game very well.”