Mourinho: Can the special one resurrect?
Jose Mourinho means so many things to different people. Some see him as very controversial. Others see him as loud mouthed and arrogant with poor human relations.
Few people know that the Special one as he is fondly called even though many of his critics question that sobriquet is that he was once a professional footballer. Yes, his father was also a manager of Rio Ave, a club in his native Portugal and he played there as well as in two other clubs. He quit the round leather game at the tender age of 24 as a midfielder as he lacked the pace and power required to be a successful professional. His concerned mother tried to enroll him in a business school but he dropped out on the first day to focus on coaching.
He first won the UEFA Champions League with little known FC Porto – a Portuguese club in 2004 and that heralded the advent of a glorious coaching career. How did he manage to pull that off with an unknown team and an extremely limited budget? He competed against bigger and better funded teams and so his genius was first established.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought over Chelsea in 2004 and immediately tapped the services of Mourinho to manage the club that was yet to win anything significant in decades. As expected the billionaire pumped serious money into the club and during his unveiling he called himself the Special One with the English press latching on to that and the name stuck. Chelsea went on to win the English Premier League for the first time in over four decades and also qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The Blues won the Community Shield in 2005. He fell out with Abramovich and was fired by the no nonsense Russian owner.
He moved to Inter Milan in 2008 and his winning streak continued when he won the Serie A that same season. On April 6, 2010 he became the first Manager to take three different teams to the Semi Finals of the Champions League. He helped Inter Milan win the Champions League.
In 2010 he moved to Real Madrid and took them to the Champions League semi finals three consecutive times. His stay at the Spanish Giant was tumultuous as he often brawled with the assistant coaches, referees and players.
He returned to Chelsea in 2013 and he declared that his two football passions were Inter Milan and Chelsea. He won the EPL again with Chelsea in 2015 but his erratic behaviour still persisted and he had a difficult time with the management of the club.
He joined Manchester United in 2016 and won the Community Shield that season. His controversial nature didn’t make him win much trophies and in 2018 was booted out by the Red Devils.
He joined Tottenham Hospurs in 2019 and failed to win any trophy and they were 7th on the EPL table as at the time of his sack after just being in charge for 17 months.
His tactics is defensive football which makes his games very boring and painful to watch. He was responsible for converting John Mikel Obi who was once ranked alongside Lionel Messi from an attacking to a defensive midfielder which led to his steep decline as a potential star to watch out for. Despite his dull style of play, Pep Guardiola of Manchester City described him as the best coach in the world. Frank Lampard, former Captain of Chelsea described him as the best coach he had ever played for.
Why has he now metamorphosed from the special one to the rejected one? Why has he allowed his success get into his head so much so that he now makes more money from clubs sacking him – he made over 90 million pounds from his ouster clauses than from winning trophies like he once used to do? Why has he allowed pride take over his life to the point that his players and even the fans greatly shun him? How art the mighty fallen like the legendary Humpty Dumpty!
Sir Alex Ferguson coached Manchester United for 27 seasons – 1986 to 2013 and he didn’t have a runaway success like Mourinho. He didn’t win anything for the first six and was nearly sacked until the winning streak came and he won everything in the game. He was able to build the team from the scratch and convert raw talents into refined products. His managerial skills were legendary and he acted like a team player. Arsene Wenger coached Arsenal for over two decades and his financial genius which made him to be nicknamed the ‘Professor’ made the club’s shareholders smile as he made humongous profits for the London club. He will buy players at a low price and sell them dearly to make astronomical profits.
Mourinho has never really built a team from scratch since his Porto Days as he has coached big teams with star studded players. Cristiano Ronaldo for instance was his player when he coached Real Madrid. His poor interpersonal skills have made top players useless under his management.
He really needs to eat the humble pie and work on building his humility so as to get the best from his players otherwise he will keep hopping from one disaster to the other until his market value totally diminishes. Pride indeed goes before a fall and who would have thought that clubs would be so fed up with the ‘Special One’ that they would prefer losing huge sums of money in his tricky contracts to having him serve the full term of his contracts.
Former Brazilian star Rivaldo has hinted that he is now on the radar of some Brazilian clubs. Mourinho has never coached a club outside Europe. Is there some iota of truth in the rumour? If true, will he take up the challenge as the Brazilian league is far less competitive than in Europe whose leagues are the best in the world? Wouldn’t it be a step down if he hops over to the Samba country?
There is the need for Mourinho to work on his character as a saying goes thus ‘When character is lost, all is lost!’ This may be the missing link to reviving the glorious days of the Portuguese born tactician as life always throws a second chance at mortals on a daily basis as long as we breathe.
Will Mourinho bounce back? Will top clubs in Europe give him another opportunity to return to reckoning?
Over to you time!
Tony Ademiluyi is a Co Founder of TVR Media – www.theventrepublic.com and wrote from Lagos