Thursday, 24 February 2011

Jose Mourinho. The ultimate manager? Or the ultimate Journeyman?

Jose Mourinho is simply a brilliant manager. His achievements speak for themselves. The last four clubs Mourinho has been at, he has brought major success to those clubs. The fact he has never lost a home game in 9 years demonstrates his fantastic qualities as a manager. Even though Mourinho is arguably one of the games finest managers, ever, he continually flirts with other clubs.

Since 2007 he has found himself at three different clubs. The longest term he has ever served in management is a mere three years with Chelsea. There hasn’t been a year where Jose Mourinho hasn’t shown light interest in a football club or been heavily linked with a club. Is Mourinho the ultimate Journeyman manager?

Jose Mourinho gained his reputation as one of Europe’s brightest young managers during his time at Porto. It’s no surprise. Seeing in a two year spell he won a Champions League, UEFA Cup, Portuguese Liga (twice), and the Portuguese Cup (again twice.) Mourinho offered something the modern game craves for. Instant success.

By the end of his first season at Porto, Jose Mourinho’s name was being linked with a host of clubs across Europe. And it was clear through Mourinho’s responses that he was seriously interested in moving to a larger club. Mourinho continually refused to rule out interest in different European clubs. Arguably, this was a sign of things to come. As the media frenzy surrounding Jose Mourinho was ever increasing. This lead to the Portuguese tactician to consistently hit the gossip pages in Italy, Spain and England. This unsettled and annoyed the Porto fans as it seemed their manager was looking for his next voyage. But I’m sure the Porto fans didn’t mind along as the team were successful on the pitch. And weren’t they hugely successful.

It was clear that Mourinho’s second season at Porto would be his final season at the club. The fantastic feat of winning the Champions League and the Portuguese League made Mourinho too big for Porto. Throughout Porto’s fantastic European Cup run, Jose Mourinho was being linked with several European power houses. The likes of Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, R.Madrid were all in the papers linked with the Portuguese manager. Mourinho left Porto with an impressive winning ratio of 70%.

Chelsea in 2004 won the battle to acquire Mourinho’s services. The fans and players fell in love with Jose Mourinho. And Mourinho fell in love with the club, the fans and the English game. Mourinho, like at Porto was again dominantly successful with Chelsea. In his three years he won, two Premier League trophies, two League cups and one F.A Cup. It was only a matter of time till Mourinho was being linked to other European clubs. Even though Mourinho’s Chelsea were seen as the favourites to dominate Europe and England. It seemed Mourinho was already thinking of his next challenge. Again, he continually failed to rule out interest from a host of European clubs, such as Inter Milan.

The sudden departure of Jose Mourinho from Chelsea was a massive shock. Simply because it happened so early in the season (September 20th..) It was a decision which stunned the whole of European football. Had Mourinho’s relationship been a little better with Roman Abramovich maybe he would still be Chelsea manager. I heavily doubt though. Jose Mourinho was looking for his next test in management. But even after just three years at Chelsea, he left being Chelsea’s most successful manager. Winning 131 games out of 185, with an winning ratio of 70%. It seemed certain Mourinho’s next venture would be in Italy.

Inter Milan provided Jose Mourinho’s next challenge. Again Mr Mourinho provided the Italian club with instant success. In two years he won a phenomenal two Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and their first European Cup in 46 years. Some argue that winning Serie A with Inter expected. As Mourinho’s predecessor Roberto Mancini won three Serie A titles in a row. However, Mourinho maintained their dominance in Italy and took Inter’s game to another level. As he mastered their conquering of Europe. Two European cups with two different clubs, he is simply a modern great.

However, even though Jose Mourinho’s success at Inter was nothing short of sensational. It seemed the Portuguese manager was desperate to live Italy. ‘I am very happy at Inter but not in Italian football.’ Again, Jose Mourinho sent the media into frenzy. And he was linked with a full host of Spanish and English clubs. Mourinho highlighted his interest in returning to the Premier League in 2009. ‘I would consider going to Manchester United but United have to consider if they want me to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson. If they do, then of course.’ This demonstrates his ultimate flirtation with other clubs. Mourinho couldn’t have made it more clear that Inter wasn’t he his long term aspiration. As Jose Mourinho was conquering Europe with Inter, he was plotting his next managerial challenge.

It seemed certain the 2010 European Cup final would be the last dance for Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan. Everyone was certain Mourinho would take the reigns at Real Madrid. This is due to the constant press speculation and interest in the job from Mourinho himself. 6 days later, Jose Mourinho was confirmed to be taking over at Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho’s time at Madrid has been relatively successful. Of course they are 5 points behind Champions Barcelona. But, Madrid have been far more consistent so far this season, in comparison with the last three years.

But it seems Jose Mourinho is already planning his next move. A few days after Mourinho signed for Madrid, there were already rumours surfacing that Mourinho had an escape clause to leave Madrid at the end of each season. Whether that’s true or false is another question. But Mourinho continually keeps commenting on how he would love to ‘one day’ takeover at Manchester United. It does seem Mourinho doesn’t see his long term future in Spain.

Prior to Madrid’s Champions League tie against Lyon, Mourinho commented, ‘I love Chelsea. I was the happiest man [when there]. I was thinking to be there all my life.’ Jose Mourinho simply can’t keep his mouth shut and get on with his daunting task at Real Madrid. Arguably, Madrid is his hardest challenge. As Barcelona are getting stronger every year. However, some believe Jose Mourinho could be doing this to shift the power balance his way at Madrid. Arguably, the Portuguese manager has tried to gain as much power as he can wherever he has managed. Hence why he had difficult relationships with Abramovich and Moratti. Furthermore, it can be quite fairly said that Mourinho’s personality makes him difficult to work with. Some view him as arrogant and egocentric. And maybe that’s why Mourinho moves from club to club? As he is looking for a team, a set of fans and even a nation that loves his presence. Hence why he felt he could stay at Chelsea for ‘all my life.’ But the Madrid hierarchy know too well that his record for instant success speaks for itself. And if he toddles somewhere else its Real Madrid’s loss, not Jose Mourinho’s.

Mourinho is one of the greatest modern day managers, but he is the ultimate journey man. With Mourinho wherever he has been, you never get the sense of a long term ambition of him staying with the club. There always seems to be another challenge Mourinho has set his sights on.

Is Jose Mourinho more interested in personal glory rather than collective glory with one club? It seems quite visible that Mourinho is someone who prides his personal glory over being hugely successful with one or two clubs. Mourinho is highly ambitious and wants to win all the top trophies. And if that means spending a few years in Italy and Spain Mourinho is willing too.

For all the incredible success Jose Mourinho has had, winning 17 trophies in 7 years. And bringing instant success everywhere he has been. Mourinho clearly has journeyman characteristics. The average Mourinho managerial job lasts for around two years, this suggests he is reluctant to have a long term association with a club.

There is one certain value the special one lacks. Loyalty.

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