FOXBOROUGH — Revolution defender Michael Mancienne has played for six teams in three countries during a 13-year professional career. He is not often fazed by happenings on or off the soccer field.
Since joining the Revolution late last season, Mancienne has taken a lot in stride. But the last three months have provided some tests for Mancienne, who had been sidelined by plantar fasciitis before returning Saturday for a 3-3 tie in a visit to the Seattle Sounders. Since Mancienne’s previous appearance, on May 4, the Revolution have twice changed coaches and also rallied from their worst start to a season into playoff contention.
“That’s football for you,” Mancienne said after practice Tuesday. “Things can change so quick in football. Nothing really surprises me anymore. I’ve seen it before. There’s a change and the team is pushing for the top of the table in the second half of the season. It happens all the time, teams make late runs and do really well. It doesn’t surprise me, this [team] having the mentality to do that. We’ve shown can do it.”
Mancienne, 31, was recruited by former Revolution coach Brad Friedel last year and became the league’s highest-paid defender at $1.3 million annually. (He has since dropped to No. 4.) In 2018, the Revolution failed to advance to the playoffs for the third successive season, then got off to a 2-8-2 start. Now, the Revolution are in sixth place (9-9-7, 34 points) going into a visit to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.
“I’ve spoken to [Friedel] after he got sacked and wished him the best and those kind of things,” Mancienne said. “I’m very grateful for him bringing me to the team and, obviously, I want to do the best I can for him.”
As for the Revolution’s recovery, Mancienne said: “Hard to put a finger on it. It could be a bit mental. The boys seem a lot happier. Obviously, winning games makes you happier. Bruce [Arena] has given the boys the confidence they needed in a difficult time. That’s helped out, mentally and physically.”
Mancienne did experience a first against Seattle — his only professional goal, a header off a Carles Gil corner, opening the Revolution’s scoring.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve hit the post, had goals disallowed,” Mancienne said. “I headed across the line, and one of my mates sprinted in and tapped it in. My first year with [Nottingham] Forest. I headed the ball and my good friend, Matty Fryatt, sprinted in. I was happy we scored, though.”
The Press Association report of a Nottingham Forest 1-1 tie with Leeds United on Dec. 20, 2015 noted “a header from Michael Mancienne . . . Fryatt steered into the back of the net, from close range.”
Sparring with VAR
The Revolution appeared to take a 3-1 first-half lead over the Sounders, but an Edgar Castillo goal was disallowed, following a Video Assistant Referee review.
Arena, the Revolution’s sporting director/head coach, criticized officials involved in the VAR during a halftime interview and expanded on his take Monday.
“I just think it needs to be coordinated better,” Arena said. “Like the goal they called back on us, the referee indicated goal twice, and then there was mass confrontation by the Seattle team, and then they went to VAR. And then they called it back. Whether decisions are right or wrong, I think it needs to be done in a more efficient way so you don’t question the process. If you’re going to check VAR after a goal, you go check quick and you get on with it. And this thing, everything turned out to be controversial.”
Earlier in the day, Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over West Ham United was marked by several VAR decisions and delays.
“I’ve seen it in Germany in the Bundesliga, where they have a command center,” Arena said. “I don’t know how they do it in England, obviously it’s their first time. In Germany it seems pretty efficient. It takes time but we’ve been at it – is this the third year? – we should be better at it. We should be the leaders, actually.
“I’m in favor of it, I just think it has to be utilized better.”
Mourinho sees talent
Jose Mourinho, who was fired by Manchester United on Dec. 18, is out of work for the fourth time since his first head coaching job with Benfica in 2000. Mourinho, whose longest absence from the field was 8½ months after leaving Chelsea in 2007, has been working as a pundit for Premier League games.
Mourinho does not rate either of his former Premier teams this season, he said before Manchester United took a 4-0 win over Chelsea in the season opener. Mourinho predicted the top four as Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City’s B team.
“When I looked at the bench . . . I think even the B team could fight for the title,” Mourinho said.
Manchester City’s top 11 reserves are valued at nearly $450 million by www.transfermarkt.com. That figure does not include Benjamin Mendy, who is injured.
It is difficult to predict what Mourinho’s price would be for returning to coaching.
He earned about $22 million annually at Manchester United. And Mourinho might have topped that, but turned down an offer from Guangzhou Evergrande, whose investors include Jack Ma, China’s richest man.