- Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku said he compares Jose Mourinho with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
- While Mourinho has a reputation for, at times, being bristly and terse, Lukaku said there is another side to him that is much kinder and more light-hearted with players.
- Lukaku said Mourinho is driven to win and he appreciates his competitiveness.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has made headlines this summer for semi-contentious, often negative comments about his club.
But according to one of the team’s stars, striker Romelu Lukaku, the public image of Mourinho is not necessarily what the 55-year-old manager is really like.
“I get to see a total different image of him where he’s really cool,” Lukaku told Business Insider.
Lukaku said Mourinho reminds him of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich can occasionally be terse with reporters, but he’s beloved by players (and most media members, too). Lukaku said he thinks both men are so driven to win that it can affect their mood and overall image.
“People need to understand that we play this game not to lose it. We play this game to win,” Lukaku said. “So when you lose, you get angry, you get upset. So for him … when he’s upset, he’s a type of person that you can really see that he’s mad or angry. So I think this is normal. This should be embraced because he’s a manager, he’s a coach that wants to win. And if you can’t deal with that, well, you know, don’t ask him questions because he shouldn’t hide this personality to give, like, a good public image.”
As Spurs players have said with Popovich, Mourinho’s relationship with players goes beyond soccer, according to Lukaku.
“We make jokes. He would send me like sometimes good advice, or funny videos, some stuff like that. So he’s really a family guy. That’s how I know him.”
Mourinho is under pressure to win with Man U this season, his third with the club. ESPN reported that there had been some friction between Mourinho and the club in recent months. Nonetheless, Lukaku has stood by his coach.
“We have a good relationship,” he said. “I think it’s nice to play for him.”