Jose Mourinho - what makes you so special?
When 41-year-old energetic Jose Mourinho knee-slid into our lives during the knockout stages of the 2004 Champions League, were we to know then that he would go on to be one of the most successful managers of a generation?
This week, however, the Portuguese boss has been in the news for the wrong reasons after he was slammed with a £50,000 fine and a one-match stadium ban for comments made in a post-match interview after a 3-1 defeat to Southampton. The fine, which he branded “a disgrace", was subsequently appealed. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ invariably dominates our headlines with both on and off-field antics, this season more than any other - but do they justify his charismatic approach to football?
Mourinho has won pretty much everything football has to offer. With 8 domestic league medals in four countries, 2 Champions League medals, 5 Manager of the Year awards between England and Italy and 2 UEFA Manager of the Year trophies - you wouldn't be criticised for declaring the 52-year-old a winner. But Mourinho has a penchant for mischief when his team find themselves in a dry spell, or simply when a footballing decision doesn't go his way.
Jose Mourinho once stated in a press conference: “Everything I say and do are mind games. The only thing that is not mind games are the results.” The Chelsea manager is renowned for spluttering controversial statements in an attempt to control the media or rattle his forthcoming competitor - none more so than in December 2014 when he claimed there was a ‘campaign’ against Chelsea.
The campaign spawned when his side drew 1-1 against Southampton, a game which saw a number of contentious decisions favour the opposition from the South Coast - Mourinho specifically referring to the decision to not award Cesc Fabregas a penalty that fuelled the fire. Even at the time, the statement was perceived as a ‘mind game,’ but Mourinho genuinely claimed referees and officials were being influenced against giving his side decisions. But what happened at the end of the season? Chelsea won the league and Mourinho won Manager of the Season. He even stated that after The Blues had won their third Premier League title, that “maybe campaign is not a nice word,” and that he regretted saying it. Mind games? You bet.
However, if you were still wondering how the campaign against Chelsea culminated - look no further than www.campaignagainstchelsea.com, which has almost 32,000 signatures.
Does it really take manipulation of other teams, players and managers to get the best results?
Mourinho and Wenger - a match made in Heaven
Previously I stated that Mourinho had a habit of rattling opponents before a big game - and this applies to one person more than any other: Arsene Wenger. The pair have been fighting an ongoing war-of-words ever since Mourinho’s introduction to English football, and I thought it’d be appropriate to look at some of the best exchanges over the years…
“I don’t see especially that Chelsea play more English players than we do. Who have they produced (who are) homegrown? Just one, John Terry.”
Wenger began the feud by blasting Chelsea’s lack of English/homegrown players, and then launched an attack on Mourinho’s negative tactics - “I know we live in a world where we have only winners and losers, but once a sport encourages teams who refuse to take the initiative, the sport is in danger.”
Naturally, Mourinho responded dubiously:
“I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He is someone who likes to watch other people. There are some guys, who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to look into the homes of other people and see what happens. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea. It’s a sickness.”
Wenger: “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes.”
Almost two years passed before the pair verbally quarrelled once more, this time Wenger commenting on Mourinho’s management ability: “If you would like to compare every manager you give each one the same amount of resources and say: ‘you have that for five years.’ After five years you see who has done the most.”
Mourinho replied: “Unlike Arsenal, we sought success and tried to build it through a concept of the game using English players.”
When Jose Mourinho returned for his second stint in English football following spells with Inter Milan and Real Madrid, it was this time he provoked media attention once again by calling Arsene Wenger a “specialist in failure,” claiming that “if I do that at Chelsea, eight years without silverware, I leave and I don't come back.” Obviously, this outburst was simply a ploy to grind the gears of his French adversary using renowned ‘mind games,’ however it simply ignited yet another spat.
Wenger responded with: “(Mourinho has a) fear to fail. It is very open, only Chelsea can lose it because they are in front and all the other teams can win it.”
“I didn't get an apology so I don't apologise. My feeling is to get over it, forget it and to move forward without thinking about what happened, you don't need to apologise. Football people, intelligent people we don't need that.” And how could we forget how this argument culminated? Maybe second only to Nigel Pearson’s “you are an ostrich” quote last season, Wenger v Mourinho reached an entertaining climax when the two of them scuffled on the touchline during a Chelsea v Arsenal match at Stamford Bridge.
The most recent altercation betwixt the duo arose when they snubbed the handshake at the 2015 Community Shield match, to which Mourinho responded by questioning Arsenal’s league position: “Arsenal? I don't understand why they are not where we are, with Manchester City, because I like their team.”
He followed that up by adding: “At this moment Wenger has a dream job that we would all love to have. He has the stability and has the time to buy and sell and wait for success, and wait and wait. I think he has the dream job.”
Mourinho seems to have stepped up his intentions to distract Wenger from concentrating on Arsenal this season more than any other, as a further statement from the Portuguese reads: “He can speak about referees before the game, he can speak after the game, he can push people in the technical area, he can cry in the morning, he can cry in the afternoon, nothing happens. He does not achieve, keeps his job and is still the King. It’s a privilege.”
The question I want to ask is, do Jose Mourinho’s actions make him a genius or a fool?
It seems recently that he’s becoming more and more agitated as the weeks progress and Chelsea’s form stands still. Almost every post-match interview transforms into his personal verbal notebook, and perhaps the mind games are being interpreted.
Has Mourinho gone too far in the past?
Every manager in football has faced criticism at some point in their career. Most have either swerved or collided head-on with controversy, but only a select few can boast a decade of meddlesomeness.
Cast your minds back to February 2005 and to the knockout stages of the Champions League, where Chelsea battled Barcelona in a round-of-16 tie. Mourinho was branded the ‘enemy of football’ after accusing then-Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard of ‘speaking with’ referee Anders Frisk at half time. The consequences of Mourinho’s claim were devastating for referee Frisk, who subsequently quit his job after receiving death threats. The warning signs were there.
In August 2012, his infatuation with bruising Barcelona continued as the boss of Real Madrid, when he mindlessly poked then-Barca boss Tito Vilanova in the eye during a bust-up between both sets of players and coaches amid the first El Clasico of the season. And who could forget when he responded to Rafa Benitez’s wife’s comments with a remark about the new Madrid boss’ weight?
Jose Mourinho, what makes you so special?