Master of the dugout: Jose Mourinho has impressively passed a string of onerous ronseal tests..
."We want to follow a dream, yes it's true, but it's one thing to follow a dream and another to follow an obsession...A dream is more pure than obsession. A dream is about pride'' Jose Mourinho.
The debate about starting to consider Jose Mourinho as not only one of the greatest but the greatest ever manager gathered steam and became a cause célèbre amongst contemporary pundits a fortnight ago when he led the los merengues to their 32nd league title.
This is primarily because he had finally achieved a feat that most football stakeholders consider a benchmark ie.winning all three traditional top leagues (Spain/Italy/England). This brought his league titles tally to an impressive 7 in 8 years,across four clubs/countries.He had finally achieved 1/2 of what Fiorentino Perez hired him to do; ie.to knock Barcelona of their perch in the La Liga (the second being winning the Champions League,which he has come close to winning on both occasions).
This also meant he has never gone a full calendar year without winning at least one trophy since he began active management in 2000. Jaw dropping stuff.
José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix started out in a perculiar manner.
Unlike most successful coaches,he basically had a non-existent playing career. After starting out as a footballer playing at really small clubs,he realized 7 years later on that he lacked the required pace and power to carry on being a professional footballer, also realizing in the process that he had a passion for coaching.His mother enrolled him in Business School when he dropped out almost immediately to pursue a course in sports science at the Technical University of Lisbon.
He had set out on a mission to become a world class coach with a knowledge base to die for,and he was on the right path.During his time at the university,he applied the sports science knowledge at schools where he taught as a P.E instructor,subsequently obtaining a diploma after 5 years of excellent academic scores.From there,as an ambitious and focused individual with a clear and defined goal,he took the next salient step and attended various coaching courses,notable amongst them, one held by the English and Scottish FAs where Andy Roxburgh (former Scottish Footballer/manager and UEFA Technical Director) revealed he especially noticed his ''drive'' and ''attention to detail''.Thus Jose Mourinho's conscientious style in planning trainings,tactics and general game-plans has been his trademark in his professional career today
Having acquired sports science knowledge and coaching knowledge,young Mourinho set off on a trajectory of coaching success,in a bid to ''redefine the role of coach in football by mixing coaching theory with motivational and psychological techniques'',showcasing his knowledge to the world to impact the beautiful game.He had equiped himself with knowledge that would enable him to revolutionalize coaching with a whole new modus operandi from unconventional perspectives like physical,motivational and general scientific aspects.
He was prepared to start out as a number two, an apprentice, to learn from masters and top notch managers.He was prepared to be a youth team coach, to try out his philosophy at relatively inferior and disregarded levels. Ready to be an assistant coach to established gaffers, understudying them whilst learning indispensible tips on the job.As he himself recalled from working under Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona.
''One of the most important things I learnt from Bobby Robson is that when you win, you shouldn't assume you are the team, and when you lose, you shouldn't think you are rubbish" - Mourinho
He studied them,added to his already impressive repertoire of knowledge, and prepared himself for his big break.He worked under Sir Robson and later,his successor Luis Van Gaal,where he reaffirmed his belief in attention to detail by observing Van Gaal's highly conscientious style. He recalled "I was more influenced by Barça's philosophy than by any other coach. They were four years of my life absolutely fundamental."
So much was his passion and dedication that,he gradually morphed from an interpreter/translator to getting heavily involved in tactical discussions under Sir Robson.He worked himself up the ladder slowly and carefully,making sure he was saturated with adequate knowledge before making the ultimate move of becoming his own man.
"The world is so competitive, aggressive, consumive and selfish and during the time we spend here we must be all but that." Jose Mourinho.
He finally made his break through as a head coach at Benfica, replacing the legendary Jupp Heynckes. He however resigned just after 9 games in charge,after club President Manuel Vilarinho refused Mourinho's demand of a contract extension after an impressive 3-0 win over fierce rival Sporting Lisbon.It is widely believed that,during this time his mentor and former boss Sir Bobby Robson offered him a job as an assistant at his new club Newcastle,with the motivation of stepping down after sometime for Mourinho to rise.
He refused on the grounds that Sir Bobby would never step down from ''a club he loved'',but knowing how ambitious Mourinho is,it's safe to believe that the real reason was that he wanted to be his own man.
|Controversial: Coming across to many as arrogant,conceited and cocky,Jose is famous for his brutal honesty and enormous confidence.|
His own man he continued to be, finding a short stint at Uniao de Leira.whom he took to their highest ever finish in the league of fifth place after joining the club.During his second season, He went on to challenge and contest places as high as third and fourth by the new year. Mourinho's exploits at Leiria sparked off attention as he caught the eye Portuguese giants Porto.His biggest break beckoned.He finally had his chance to be seen.
He seized the opportunity. After guiding the team to a respectable finish in his first season,he made a risky promise of making them champions the next year.
So he did!
Not only did he win the title,he did so with an impressive (W-D-L) record of 27-5-2. Eleven points clear of second place challengers Benfica,with a Portuguese record of 86 points.That was not all, Jose won a treble,adding the Portuguese Cup and UEFA Cup to the title.
He,by this time,had built a formidable c.v and established himself as a hot coaching prospect.As if that was not enough,he surprised the world by winning the Champions League in 2004, beating Monaco 3-0 in the final.Mourinho's Porto had a distinctive tactical system that was based on pressão alta ("high pressure") where his side applied physical pressure on attacking fronts to disintegrate defences. He was also known for holding highly scientific and detailed training sessions, planning every aspect meticulously.After 6 trophies in 2 years,he bid farewell.A legend had been born.
"If I had wanted to be protected in a quiet job, I could have stayed at Porto. I would have been second, after God, in the eyes of the fans even if I had never won another thing." Jose MourinhoChelsea snapped him up in 2004,with new owner Roman Abramovich initiating a long term project to put Chelsea up there among the top European Clubs.Jose Mourinho was up to the task and made it happen! He won their first League title in 50 years on his very first attempt, hauling a record breaking 95 points (highest ever achieved in the Premier League), and the fewest goals conceded (15).
He won the League cup as well. Abramovich had found gold.This man was the real deal.A master with an unrivaled passion to succeed.
Mourinho's time at Chelsea saw them become one of Europe's most feared top clubs,winning everything except the holy grail,the European Cup,where two unfortunate phenomenons of a ''ghost goal'' and penalty shootout in two grueling semi finals encounters in 2005 and 2007 respectively against Rafael Bennitez's Liverpool, unfairly denied him a possible win.
But that hardly took away his shine, he bowed out amidst disagreements with Roman in late 2007 with six trophies in three years.The nomadic son of Portugal once more set out to prove himself in another difficult territory. Italy called out. Massimo Moratti hired him to bring back the glory days of the Nerrazurri in the mid sixties,where his father,Angel Moratti bank-rolled ''La Grande Inter'' to two succesive European Cup wins,with the legendary High Priest of Catenaccio, Helenio Herrera in charge.
''So I know all about the ups and downs of football, I know that one day I will be sacked.'' Jose Mourinho.
Challenge accepted. Mourinho secured a scudetto in his first season in charge.Although he failed to win the UCL, he asked Moratti to be patient.
The second season is always vital for Mourinho.
Then it happened.. BAM! A treble. The first in Italian soccer history.
He secured the holy grail at the Bernabeu against his former boss Van Gaal and his impressive Bayern Munich side,after knocking out the world's finest,Barcelona. The Serie A, Coppa Italia and the UCL made up the glorious major treble.
He achieved this with a unified squad that was the personification of character.He employed a modified version of his system at Porto and Chelsea,this time highlighting defence and employing a counter attacking system rooted in a contemporary catennaccio structure.Inter were widely heralded as the 'best team in the world without the ball.'
They were so organized.They had a 30%possession of the ball in the final in Madrid, but still won by two goals to nil. Mourinho once again proved he's a master.
He could have,connoiseurs argue,stayed on to win the UEFA Super Cup, The FIFA Club World Cup and the Italian Super Cup to equal Pep Guardiola's single calendar year sextuple record,but he left when the applaud was loudest.Spain called out. Fiorentino Perez lured him to Madrid. Mourinho again set out to prove his worth in the biggest challenge on the biggest stage yet.
"I am Jose Mourinho and I don't change. I arrive with all my qualities and my defects,'' he echoed on his arrival at the Bernabeu. Challenge accepted, once again.
Mourinho has won two major trophies in two seasons. Now this is especially a highly impressive statistic because he is up against possibly the world's greatest team, Barcelona.
On his first attempt,he took Madrid past the last 16 stage of the UCL for the first time in years,making it eventually to the semi-final,losing honourably to Barcelona. He won the King's Cup against Barcelona.Any other coach would have been given the sack, especially after losing a humiliating 5-0 to Barca in his first classico, a result club president Perez dubbed ''the worst in the history of Real Madrid.'' This is Real Madrid,where second chances are as rare as a blue moon.
But Mourinho got it. He got it. And he took the opportunity.
"I am prepared. The more pressure there is, the stronger I am. In Portugal, we say the bigger the ship, the stronger the storm. Fortunately for me, I have always been in big ships. FC Porto was a very big ship in Portugal, Chelsea was also a big ship in England and Inter was a great ship in Italy. Now I'm at Real Madrid, which is considered the biggest ship on the planet," Jose Mourinho
He won the La Liga 9 points clear of the world's finest, Barca (beating them at the Nou Camp to basically seal it) alongside a record most away wins (16), most points obtained in any of the top European leagues (100), and finishing the season with the highest goal difference (+89).
Mourinho - style.The highly impressive La Liga campaign overshadowed a Copa del Rey run - where they quite unluckily got knocked out by foes Barca, in a match where Mourinho matched Guardiola's charges boot for boot (after many unsuccessful previous attempts) in a pulsating 2-2 draw (Barca winning on aggregate score after beating them 2-1 at the Bernabeu) - as well as a a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich in the Semi Final of the Champions League,shattering a dream record of becoming the first manager to conquer Europe 3 times with three different clubs).
In the process, Mourinho proved his critics wrong by showcasing dynamism by transforming his system(compared to the Inter years) from an organized Herrera style catenaccio to free flowing attacking football with devastating effect.He recently just signed a four year contract renewal at Real to keep him at the manager's office till 2016.Not many managers get offered a four year deal at the Bernabeu after just two trophies,with no Champions League win.He is that special.As he himself put it at Chelsea on his first press conference..."Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one," which resulted in the media dubbing him "The Special One"
"If I am hated at Barcelona, it is their problem but not mine. Fear is not a word in my football dictionary," Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has managed to emerge as an influential tactician in a world where a team's exploits are hardly attributed fully to managers.His impact has been felt immensely on every team he has managed,winning almost every major trophy in Europe whilst setting and breaking a long line of mind blowing records.He has also managed impressively high winning percentages at all his clubs (69% at Porto,70% at Chelsea, 62% at Inter and 76% at Real), a feat which no other trainer can boast of with multiple clubs,in top leagues.He has also proved himself on all club football fronts,considered by all as standard criteria for measuring greatness and efficiency.
He is most definitely an International trophy(European Championship or FIFA World Cup) away from becoming arguably the greatest coach in history. At the moment, he is ranked alongside greats like Helenio Herrera, Bela Guttmann, Nereo Rocco,Rinus Michels, Ernst Happel, Stefan Kovacs, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Gustav Sebes etc. His tactical brilliance(extensive systems,unorthodox approaches and ability to vary and modify),his renowed man management, amazing trophy wins and long chains of records set and broken are just beyond impressive.
"For me, pressure is bird flu. I'm feeling a lot of pressure with the problem in Scotland. It's not fun and I'm more scared of it than football." - on whether he ever feels pressure to perform/succeed." Jose Mourinho
In a career spanning twelve years now, Jose Mourinho has won 19 trophies overall (16 majors) including two European Cups,a UEFA Cup,7 League titles,and a host of domestic cups. He has won almost all the highly rated and most respected club competitions in the world.
Also,between 23rd February 2002 and 2nd April 2011(9 solid years), Mourinho went 150 home league matches unbeaten: 38 (W36–D2) with Porto, 60 (W46–D14) with Chelsea, 38 (W29–D9) with Inter Milan and 14 (W14–D0) with Real Madrid.His all-time winning percentage stands at 69.49% ,ie. almost 70%,playing 567 games in his career(winning 394,drawing 109 and losing only 65).
Widely known for his strong personality,outspokenness and controversial mannerisms, Jose has received dozens of personal awards that other managers can only dream of. He can speak Portuguese, Spanish,Italian,French,English and Catalan fluently,learning intelligently and quickly whilst on the job in most of the countries he's worked at.He is known ,with players bearing witness, as an outstanding motivator and a source of confidence and belief for his players. His astonishing success rate means he's the first choice on every club in search of a manager's radar.
He gets the job done, almost always.
"God must really think I'm a great guy. He must think that, because otherwise He would not have given me so much. I have a great family. I work in a place where I've always dreamt of working. He has helped me out so much that He must have a very high opinion of me." Jose Mourinho.
With such charisma and personality like no other, Jose Mourinho has endeared himself into the heart of many. His strong personality has divided opinion about him, with people strongly admiring him, and the others, well, not quite. But he's Mourinho, and he hardly ever gives a damn..
Jose Mourinho is a living legend, an astute tactician and an enormous achiever. At only 49, God knows what else he has in store for his critics and admirers alike. A man for the big job,he is still well and truely going strong.
Fiifi Anaman (@fiifianaman)