José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix, commonly known as ‘The Special One’, is undoubtedly a world class manager. His eight league titles across four different countries, two Champions League trophies, and numerous domestic cups all serve as a testament to his managerial genius.
There is, however, a blotch on the reputation of this very elite manager and the length of his greatness at any given club seems no longer than three years.
In his stint with Porto that caught the eye of everyone in world football, Mourinho walked his team to the Portuguese league title, the UEFA Cup and the Taca de Portugal. But in the next season, he did the unthinkable. Mourinho won the UEFA Champions League with his Porto team, beating the likes of Monaco and Manchester United along the way. All of this, in just a two and a half year spell.
Shortly after performing this miracle, the Portuguese gaffer was approached with an offer to coach Chelsea, as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich invited Mourinho to become his first managerial appointment at the club. “The Special One” took charge at Stamford Bridge, and with a combination of top notch man management and tactical genius, two league titles followed.
In his third season however, the former Porto boss could only manage to win England’s domestic cups, something that was seen as the anti-climax of his career at Chelsea such had been the level of success. The Portuguese tactician was then unexpectedly shown the door midway through his 4th season at the club, following reports of a power struggle between himself, the board, and many other important figures within the Chelsea hierarchy.
After a year-long sabbatical, Inter Milan came calling. Mourinho made his way to Italy and had two very successful seasons there.
After winning a Serie A title in his first season at Inter, Mourinho then achieved a remarkable treble in his second, winning the League, the Italian Cup, and the Champions League to prove to the world that his previous treble at Porto was by no means a fluke.
By this point, Mourinho was already being considered as the world’s leading modern-day manager, and his talents had caught the attention of the mighty Real Madrid.
Upon arriving at his biggest club yet, Mourinho was more than aware of just how high the standards would need to be in the Spanish capital, with Barcelona at the height of their tiki-taka dominance, both domestically and in Europe.
Mourinho brought his ‘win at all costs’ attitude, mind games and ruthless mentality to Spain and the El Classico against Pep Guardiola became less about the football and more about the in-game war between the players and their coaches.
The Special One delivered a Spanish Cup in his first term and managed to wrestle the league from the Catalan giants in his second. But yet again his third season proved to be the most difficult. Rumours of a player mutiny, strained relations with the club’s hierarchy and no trophies at all led to Mourinho leaving Los Blancos, as the Portuguese coach labelled the season as the “worst” of his career.
Following this, Mourinho made the brave move of returning to Chelsea, in a move that delighted both he and the club’s supporters. After enduring the first season without any silverware, Jose won the league title in his second season at a canter, while also picking up the Capital One Cup along the way.
As you have probably learned to expect by this point, Mourinho had far less success in the third year of his second spell at Chelsea. Jose oversaw the worst title defence in Premier League history and was sacked in December after losing 9 of 16 league games, which left the reigning champions sitting in an unprecedented 17th place in the League table.
Mourinho’s third season decline is linked to how he wins trophies. The Special One likes to take the underdog position at every club he goes to, eventually passing an “us against the world” mentality to his players that strengthens the will to win. However, once his teams attain success, this underdog mentality no longer serves, and the team’s fire and desire burn out.
Manchester United fans will be hoping for a longer period of sustained success from their new manager as they’re keen on seeing the glory days return to Old Trafford.
The post-Fergie era has been plagued with utter disappointment with the likes of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal unable to bring much success to the Red side of Manchester.
Jose Mourinho has been backed to buck that unfortunate trend in his very first season in charge. However, even if he does, uncertainty is likely to remain looming around the Special One at Manchester United.