Freedom of expression is apparently no longer a thing at Manchester United.
Just in case you thought Jose Mourinho, in his first year as United manager, had softened with age, the Independent reported on Tuesday that he is cracking down on his players’ use of social media at the practice facility and around games.
United is fighting for fourth place in the Premier League and the Europa League trophy, both of which will ensure a berth in the Champions League next season. And the Portuguese wants to mitigate every potential liability.
Mourinho is apparently miffed about his players’ habit of posting from practice and on the bus to games. And frequently injured defender Luke Shaw drew his manager’s ire when he posted a picture of himself working out at home, as some apparently felt it made it look like the club wasn’t taking care of him.
Ticking over on my weekend off ???????????? pic.twitter.com/GHJM3sKSx7
— Luke Shaw (@LukeShaw23) November 13, 2016
So Mourinho is instituting rules about when and what players can post on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
There shall be no more posting from the training ground at Carrington, on the team bus or 48 hours before a game. The latter measure seems particularly draconian, since United habitually plays twice a week, suggesting that players wouldn’t be allowed to post things four days out of every seven.
Mourinho hopes to stifle leaks – especially the accidental ones – and to get his players to focus on their craft.
It’s a daring move by the outspoken manager, as players typically recoil at bosses seen as overbearing. And when footballers feel that their manager is out of touch with their generation, he is that much more likely to lose the locker room.
Apparently, Mourinho thinks this is enough of a problem to risk alienating his players, who often have little else to do when they’re on the road than to mess around on their phones.
But if it backfires, at least they can’t call him out on Twitter.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.
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