With his recent departure from Tottenham Hotspur still fresh in the memory it would seem that once again Jose Mourinho has failed to seize the opportunity to revitalise a career that has evidently begun to stagnate after such a glorious and successful journey through the game.
Recruited by Roman Abramovich in 2004 to become Chelsea manager, his swagger and confidence was a breath of fresh air to English football as he famously declared himself the special one at his very first press conference.
No stone was left unturned in the psychological aspect of the game as he famously built a siege mentality around his players. Although his attitude somewhat bordered on arrogance it couldn’t be denied that his methods translated to monumental success on the pitch as he built a powerful team in his own image as the likes of Dider Drogba, John Terry, and Claude Makelele all ran through brick walls for their beloved manager en route to trophy laden success for the London side.
His tactics and innovative approach to every aspect of the sport drew comparisons to the late great Brian Clough, as Mourinho cast aside 4-4-2 and introduced a new fangled 4-3-3 system that pushed two wingers further forward in support of the lone frontman. This would go on to be replicated by many other teams and became the new standard in the game, due it’s difficulty to negate and Jose’s bulldozer like success with it.
Every press conference and interview made for box office viewing as his entertaining and sometimes cutting remarks were always available in abundance as he shared his philosophy on the game. Never afraid to voice his opinion and go against the grain, Jose became a hugely popular figure for many football fans in England as we admired his profound ability to back up many of his beliefs and prophecies of victory on the pitch.
When his eventual departure from Chelsea came in 2008 it was deemed a great loss to the Premier League, as we would no longer be privy to Jose’s fascinating soundbites and magnetic personality on a weekly basis.
Serie A and Inter Milan would be his next port of call and the subsequent three years at the club were once again a resounding triumph, as Mourinho once again flexed his managerial muscle, leading them to a magnificent treble in 2010. The club duly became the first Italian club in history to land the Scudetto, the Italian Cup and the European Cup all in one season.
Real Madrid would inevitably come calling as his unparalleled success as a manager in a variety of countries showed Jose to be a man who could adapt to new cultures and football methodology at the drop of a hat. His move to the Bernabeu was finalised soon after his European Cup victory, with Los Blancos paying a hefty financial compensation package for his services.
It is here in the Spanish capital that the very first cracks in the Mourinho foundations began to appear despite another era of success in La Liga, as he delivered every domestic trophy in his three years at the club.
However, Real Madrid is an institution that is geared towards European silverware, and domestic honours alone are not enough to satisfy the demanding fan base of one the worlds most successful teams.
The rapport he developed and nurtured with all of his players at past clubs was always crucial to his success, as his tough love and sometimes blunt criticism always seemed to be embraced by his players as he led them to glory. Yet in Madrid it seemingly had the adverse effect, as it served to create a divide and a fractured working relationship with the clubs galactico’s. Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, and Iker Casillas all having well publicized fall outs with the manager.
This internal power struggle between the manager and his players would see Jose eventually sacked, and as a return to London with Chelsea beckoned it would seem that a pre-cursor to the future had already been set at Real Madrid. As it seemed that Jose could no longer cultivate or motivate his players, who had previous bowed down to his managerial excellence, and now they seemed unwilling to follow his lead.
In my opinion Football in 2021 has shifted in a new direction, as society itself is now crying out for inclusion and positivity across the board as we have all endured a torrid time in this tiresome global pandemic. So to criticize and ostracize any player can only surely only breed negativity in not only the person himself but in the training camp as a whole, as the games primary ethos is built on teamwork. For me personally, I would suggest that to encourage and nurture yields the greater response from us as human beings in all walks of life.
It is where the great Alex Ferguson would often excel as he always knew when the time was right for an arm round the shoulder rather a than a rocket up the backside. He certainly recognized that in order to be a success it is a fundamental that any manager in any walk of life is able to communicate and build a rapport with his or her team, as one size no longer fits all in our modern world.
Thus, I feel that here is where Jose has been unable to halt the slide of his managerial failings as he has been unable to rectify and learn from his mistakes. His confrontational methods have been shown to be on a very rocky path after his experiences in Spain.
His return to Chelsea again resulted in a league title, as he built a new powerful team with the marquee signings of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa firing them to success. It wouldn’t last very long however as Mourinho’s failure to develop relationship’s based on mutual respect would rise to the fore all over again, with both Eden Hazard and Diego Costa falling foul of the manager. It was an all too familiar tale for Mourinho and he would part ways with the club in late 2015.
Jose would subsequently become Manchester United manager in 2016 and he delivered silverware in the form of a Europa and League Cup triumph. However, the hierarchy and support base of the club had been accustomed to dining out on gourmet football for decades via Alex Ferguson. He was a manager that genuinely seemed to care for his players and he had an emotional affinity to the club that Jose could never grasp in his short period at the club.
His cold and negative concepts alienated fans who wanted a return to its attacking principles that the clubs foundations had been built on through its rich history. He stubbornly refused to embrace that vision, and continued to place faith in the tactics that had brought him success nearly a decade earlier.
Public defamation of characters such as Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba were yet again on the menu as he created division within the club. Personally, I do feel that player power is a serious problem in the game that needs eradicating and the likes of Paul Pogba do not need their egos stroked any more than is already evident across social media. But to publicly humiliate your players is a sure fire way to create a palpable discord between both parties and is an almost certain recipe for disaster.
Manchester United would eventually see enough of this unsavoury approach and dismiss him in 2019, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replacing him in an effort to mirror a more measured and cultured approach.
Tottenham Hotspur would represent the last chance saloon for Jose in my opinion and with his recent sacking I would suggest that it is now final orders for him in the Premier League.
His surly and antagonistic approach never endeared him to the Spurs fanbase, as his attitude towards his players and negative tactics drew outrage once again. Both club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and fan favourite Delle Ali would be publicly lambasted in interviews by Jose, as it became apparent that the same tired old path was being tread once more which would lead to only one perceivable outcome.
Sure enough he was sacked by the club after just eighteen months, and he departed for the first time in his career without clutching silverware. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur look to return to a far more serene work place environment with the appointment of the very likeable Nuno Espirito Santo.
As the world continues to change and evolve around us I feel that it is Jose’s stubborn refusal to accept the changing face of modern Football that has led to fans of the sport to question his standing in the game. His achievements leave me in no doubt that he is one of the greatest managers in the history of the sport, yet old father time waits for no one and it is his failure to evolve that has led to his recent shortcomings as his personal views and tactical approach are viewed as grossly outdated by many.
He is now penciled in to take the reigns at AS Roma as he makes his long awaited return to Serie A after a ten year hiatus, and it will be fascinating and compelling viewing to see if his own tried and trusted methods continue to amass clout a decade down the line in Italy.
Jose will always polarize opinion wherever he goes and if he revitalizes his approach at his new club we may well indeed see the return of the special one. However, it is a yarn we have been spun by the man himself many times before, as he always professes to have learnt from his previous misdemeanors, despite the mask soon slipping as soon as adversity looms on the horizon.
So in order for Jose Mourinho to maintain possession of the moniker he famously bestowed upon himself way back in 2004, it is about time that he realised the error of his own ways, and must surely reinvent his own footballing mantra.
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