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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Chaplain warns Mourinho ahead of Premier League opener

The Chaplain for Sport has warned Jose Mourinho that a continuation of the disrespectful behaviour he displayed last year could see a repeat of last season’s destructive performance.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann’s advice came after Dejan Stefanovic, a Slovenian member of world players’ union FifPro, said the new Manchester United boss should be jailed for “bullying” Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The 32-year-old German midfielder signed a three-year deal with the Reds for a fee of nine million euros (£6.5 million) in 2015 and became United’s first German player to be fielded in the first team.

However, despite playing 31 games last season, Schweinsteiger, who, like Mourniho, is a Catholic, has been training alone and with the Under-23s since the Portuguese manager, who once described himself as “The Special One”, took over at Old Trafford.

“It’s clear bullying,” Mr Stefanovic, who is also a lawyer and president of the Slovenian Footballers and Sportsmen Union, told the BBC. “In Slovenia, we would have indicted Mourinho and asked for the highest penalty – three years in prison.”

Mgr Felzmann, who is CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, agreed that “Mourinho is a bully”.

“The evidence is there that he is indeed bullying Bastian Schweinsteiger,” Mgr Felzmann told The Universe.

However, the Chaplain for Sport pondered the reason for this, and whether there were underlying issues between the two, or if Mourinho was following in the footsteps of Manchester United’s most successful manager, Alex Ferguson, who famously took a hardline approach with some players, often giving them the ‘hairdryer’ treatment.

“The question is: ‘why?’,” Mgr Felzmann asked. “Is the manager trying to impose discipline with his own brand of ‘hairdryer’ techniques? Have they had ‘issues’ in the past? Has Bastian made remarks that have upset Jose?”

He explained that without hearing from both sides, it is unwise to make a judgement on the goings on. However, he did warn the former Chelsea boss that a repeat of his previous mistakes might risk a repeat of last season’s disastrous spell, which resulted in his departure from Stamford Bridge.

“If Man U players think Mourinho has behaved, or is behaving, badly they are unlikely to put their heart into their team,” he said. “Without a deep sense of ‘all for one; one for all’ marinating their hearts, their commitment, and thus performance, might well turn out to be akin to Chelsea’s after his spat with the doctor.” Mourinho faced much criticism following his treatment of Eva Carneiro, when she offered stoppage time treatment to Eden Hazard during Chelsea’s opening game of last season, a 2-2 draw against Swansea.

Mourinho, who was Chelsea boss at the time, branded the then-Chelsea team doctor as “naïve” and claimed she did not understand the game of football.

Mourinho’s current treatment of Schweinsteiger seems to be wielding the same controversy with Mr Stefanovic advising the former German international to take action against his boss.

“Mourinho is setting a bad example. I would take it to the ordinary court. In our case, the penal code is quite clear. If there is bullying and harassment, there’s a prison sanction, a maximum of three years in prison,” he explained.

“Schweinsteiger should turn to the Professional Footballers’ Association and he should file a complaint and I would also seek punishment for Mourinho.”

Manchester United’s Premier League season gets underway this afternoon when they play away to Bournemouth, at Dean Court. Kick off is at 1:30pm. This will be Jose Mourinho’s first match in charge of the Reds.

His first home game as Manchester United boss will take place on Friday 19th August, when Claude Puel’s Southampton travel to Old Trafford.

Picture: Picture by: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho during the pre-season friendly match at the DW Stadium, Wigan. (Martin Rickett/PA).