Jose Mourinho: How special is he?

01 Jan

Whether he used 4-3-1-2’s, 4-5-1’s, 4-3-3’s or 4-2-3-1’s, these formations led Jose Mourinho to silverware. At the age of 49, Mourinho has arguably been the most successful manager in European football. Since joining Porto in January 2002, he’s won 20 trophies including two Champions League titles. Along with being one of three men to win the Champions League with two different teams and the youngest manager to win the trophy twice, Mourinho is also the only coach to win league titles in England, Italy and Spain.

Former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley has done better in that span winning 20 trophies in his nine-year tenure with Liverpool in the 1980’s. Only Pep Guardiola has come close to emulating Mourinho’s record in modern day football by winning 14 trophies in his four years with Barcelona. Mourinho’s stats put him in an elite class, and for a man who referred to himself as the ‘Special One’ he’s certainly heading in the right direction, but despite all these achievements, is it possible that Mourinho is far from special?

With all the success the Portuguese manager has achieved over the past decade, more owners are determined to lure Mourinho to their club. If you look at his stats they’re flawless, but one may gain the impression that the self-proclaimed “Special One” is nothing more than a very good short-term manager.

With a winning percentage no lower than 60% and losing no more than 25 games in those tenures, Mourinho has only left a club in the middle of a season once, in which he enjoyed an eight-month sabbatical away from football. That club was Chelsea, and it occurred in Mourinho’s fourth season as Blue’s manager. After a loss to Aston Villa and draws to Blackburn and Rosenborg, Mourinho left Chelsea by mutual consent.

Along with Mourinho having issues with Roman Abramovich behind the scenes, Mourinho’s Chelsea side was sitting in fifth place prior to his departure and finished his third season with the Blues six points behind Manchester United in second place. In that season Chelsea managed to pick up two domestic trophies, but was unable to defeat Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool side in the Champions League semi-finals or win the Premier League for the third straight year.

At Porto and Inter Milan his tenures went smoothly as planned.  He claimed his two Champions League crowns in his second full seasons in Portugal and Italy.

With a backbone of Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Costinha, Maniche, Vitor Baia and Benni McCarthy, Porto was able to achieve the club’s first treble in his first full season and claimed the club’s second European crown in his second year. It was then that Mourinho left the Portuguese club to manage in the Premier League at Chelsea. The following season Porto were unable to replicate their success without Mourinho; They were knocked out in the first knockout stage against Inter Milan and finished three points behind Benfica in their domestic league. Porto didn’t decline drastically due to the lack of competition in Portugal, but they did go through four managers in two seasons before steadying the ship with Jesualdo Ferreira.

Mourinho’s time in Milan was again short, but he was the first manager to win the treble with an Italian team. The Inter Milan side he inherited had won the Scudetto three consecutive times but they were unable to replicate their domestic form in Europe. With Julio Cesar, Lucio, Walter Samuel, Maicon, Christian Chivu and Javier Zanetti, Mourinho was guaranteed solidity at the back. But with his first season signings in Ricardo Quaresma, Sully Muntari and Mancini not living up to their ability, Mourinho was forced to splash more cash, and he did. Thiago Motta, Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o arrived at the San Siro in his second season, which led to another European triumph for Mourinho. A 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the 2010 Champions League final was Mourinho’s last match as he already had his eye’s set on taking over the helm at the Santiago Bernabeu. Since Mourinho’s departure, Inter Milan has gone through five managers and has been unable to find stability in results.

Mourinho faced a daunting task upon his arrival at the Bernabeu, and that task was Barcelona. Arguably one of the greatest club sides to play the game with the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta dominating world football and cruising in La Liga. During his first season Mourinho was able to capture the Copa Del Rey from Barcelona, but he was defeated over two legs in the Champions League semi-final  (First time Real Madrid made it past the 1st knockout round since 2003/2004) and finished four points behind Barcelona in La Liga.

Madrid was a different breed in their second season under Mourinho as they dethroned Barcelona and won their first La Liga title in four years. Mourinho did it in style, breaking records, as Madrid scored 121 goals in the league, reached 100 points and earned 32 wins. They once again bowed out in the semi final stage of the Champions League to Bayern Munich and fell to Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey, but their league triumph was more than enough. Not only did Mourinho defeat Barcelona, but he also put an end to Pep Guardiola’s tenure. Guardiola was stepping away from football as he needed a ‘break’ and Mourinho had La Liga all to himself, or so we thought.

And here we are now, quickly approaching 2013 and Jose Mourinho’s men sit 16 points behind Barcelona with his job in jeopardy. Issues on and off the field with the media/the board and reported bust-ups with Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas have mounted pressure on the Portuguese manager.

The question is, will Mourinho be sacked?

Regardless of whether he’s sacked tomorrow or at the end of the week, it’s inevitable that Mourinho will leave at the end of the season.

Is it the right decision?

Richard Whitall explains here why it’d be the wrong decision to sack him—-december-3rd-florentino-perez-will-regret-pushing-mourinho-out-of-real-madrid/

Now although Whittall does bring up some logical reasons behind why Mourinho should stay Madrid manager at the end of the season, is it possible that Mourinho no longer has much to offer at the Bernabeu?

Never has Mourinho sat 16 points behind the league leaders in any domestic league since joining Porto in 2002. Yes I know he’s never came up against a side as great as Barcelona, but the sudden decline in this Real Madrid side is no fluke.

Mourinho left Porto at the right time and what he achieved at the club in Europe may never be replicated again in modern day football.

At Chelsea, he was allowed to spend approximately £225.76m and along with Manchester United in transition, Mourinho was able to claim two Premier League titles. As he went to Inter Milan and Madrid he continued to receive funding from owners who were determined to win and willing to give him the resources.

Would Mourinho be able to succeed in a top league with limited resources?

Could the problem at Chelsea and now Madrid be down to Mourinho overstaying his tenure?

At Inter and Porto he achieved all he could in two years, but with Chelsea and Madrid he has claimed success domestically but his inability to win the Champions League has forced him to stay longer than expected. Thus allowing us to witness his sides decline rapidly.

Is it possible that Mourinho physically and emotionally drains his players over a two-year cycle?

Could Mourinho’s training methodology, tactical expertise and ability to motivate his teams have short-term effect?

Is Mourinho’s impressive track record hiding his flaws?

Can he sustain success for more than three years?

Is he able to build/rebuild a squad and instill youth, rather than poaching world-class players that’ll get him results for the present?

These are questions that have yet to be answered in Mourinho’s path to greatness, but they’re surely on his checklist.

Mourinho’s final task to complete at Madrid begins at Old Trafford where his legacy began in the Champions League. It was in the first knockout round that his Porto side defeated Manchester United. Ironically nine years later he’ll face off against Manchester United once again in a match that could define his tenure at Madrid.

According to Iker Casillas, “I do not have to think about it. If you told me now that we would finish 25 points behind Barcelona in La Liga that is obviously not ideal as the domestic competition is very important, But if you tell me that we are going to win La Decima, I would sign for that right now.”

Mourinho was brought in to dethrone Barcelona and guide Madrid to their 10th European title. Failure to do so, along with all the issues behind the scenes can put a dent in Mourinho’s reputation and be considered as a failed project by many.

The most important factor in being a successful manager is winning trophies. The manner in how you win those trophies determines whether you’re a special manager.

Mourinho’s poor results, failure to disband cultural groups in the locker room and avoid off field issues with the board/media have led to Mourinho’s downfall at Madrid. It also could be exposing Mourinho and showing his true colours.

A decline in performances was transpiring at Chelsea, occurred at Inter Milan the following year and is now happening at Madrid.

As Rory Smith said in an article from the Telegraph in 2011, “Mourinho is no guarantee of long-term success. He is not the man for tomorrow, he is the man for today. He is the night before.  He is immediate satisfaction for clubs starved of success. He is no visionary.”

Mourinho is young and will only get better as he gets older and wiser. He is a great manager, but Mourinho is not ‘special.’ Yet!

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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in FIFA


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