So, the seemingly inevitable has happened. Jose Mourinho has, after weeks of speculation, been sacked by Manchester United. The writing was largely on the wall, of course, given Jose’s continuing propensity to flick between extreme defensiveness and pettiness during press conferences, his verbal attacks on his players and the side’s consistently poor performances under his stewardship.
However, before the Liverpool FC game, the accepted wisdom was that Jose would see the season out (Louis Van Gaal-style) and then be dismissed at the end of the season. Naturally, given that Manchester United were so overwhelmingly outperformed in the derby game last weekend, it is perhaps not too surprising that the Manchester United board saw the need to take more immediate action.
Obviously, the situation with football manager contracts are usually different to ‘normal’ Contracts of Employment by way of being fixed-term (i.e. for a number of months or years) rather than rolling continuously until notice is given. In this way, there will be the need for negotiations to end Jose’s Contract but, these things aside, he is immediately removed from his position as Manager.
For the purposes of this blog, let’s treat Jose as being in a ‘normal’ employee situation and see whether he would have fared any better. So, hypothetically speaking, let’s say that Jose was a Production Manager in a warehouse for a company called Trafford Trailblazers and that the company produced various industrial items and delivered them to customers and let’s now consider what his recent actions would have meant within that more ‘regular’ role.
Firstly, in the footballing world, Jose has frequently made negative remarks about the performance of young United players. So, in our example, let’s say that ‘Jose’ has held staff meetings and, within them, regularly targeted the younger employees present for lacking the correct attitude and application. Naturally, the Board at Trafford Trailblazers are going to be very unhappy that Jose isn’t, instead, having conversations about performance with those individual employees behind closed doors and would view his behaviour as unprofessional and affecting team morale. The Board are also likely to be particularly concerned about Jose targeting the younger employees because of age discrimination concerns and because younger employees are more likely to leave the job and leave the company low on numbers. Potential level of concern = First Written Warning
Secondly, in real life, Mourinho’s apparent clash of personalities with Paul Pogba, and his consequent inability to get the best performances out of Pogba, have been well documented. So, in our example, let’s say that when Jose became Production Manager, ‘Paul’ was the best performing employee by far but that, following an undocumented conversation between Paul and Jose around 2 months in, Paul’s performance has dropped far below his best levels. What would the board do?
Well, in this situation, they would first want to find out exactly what was said within that ‘undocumented’ conversation and assess whether one person acted inappropriately. The Board would also want to chat with Paul and learn the reasons for his poor performance (i.e. does he have issues outside of work affecting his performance or, alternatively, is his relationship with Jose or, alternatively, the instructions in terms of how to perform his duties affecting his performance level?) After this, if the Board believed that Jose was at fault in terms of his conduct around Paul and/or the instructions that he has been giving to Paul, this will would cause questions about whether Jose was having a negative impact on team morale. Potential level of concern = Final Written Warning
And, finally, let’s address Jose’s negative comments in the media. So, in our example, let’s say that Trafford Trailblazers have an internal monthly newsletter which is distributed to every single member of staff by email and through physical copies and that, for the last 2 months, ‘Jose’ has made negative comments in which he describes the warehouse staff as lacking desire and energy compared to warehouse staff at rival companies.
This would be a huge concern for the Board in many ways. Firstly, the Board may disagree with Jose’s comments and believe that his staff are, at least, as good as those at rival companies. Secondly, the Board may believe that any low morale and/or poor training fall at his door as Production Manager and that it is his job to raise morale, not simply to write articles blaming employees. And, thirdly, the Board are likely to view the articles as unprofessional and as being the wrong way to go about things because, instead, Jose could have discussed his concerns with the Board himself and then discussed ways of improving things, rather than going on the attack in a widely distributed document. Potential level of concern = Dismissal
So, there we go. Similar behaviour in a warehouse as a Manager would also risk dismissal by a Board concerned about the performance and morale of its employees. Naturally, the above is wholly hypothetical and put together just to show that it is isn’t just football managers who have to manage performance, morale and be aware of the impact of their comments lest they risk dismissal on performance grounds.
And, also, before I’m accused of bias due to working at a Liverpool-based law firm, I can confirm that my football team is the mighty (but comparatively lowly) Marine AFC in Crosby! Thanks for reading this blog and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from everyone here at Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors!