What next for José Mourinho?
As news of José Mourinho’s sacking trickled in, you just received it with little surprise. It was always coming. Indeed I had predicted this outcome earlier in the season when signs and symptoms showed bad prognosis. Yet again another manager has failed to fill Sir Alex Ferguson’s sizeless shoes after David Moyes and Luis Van Gaal.
With whatever lens you view Mourinho, you can’t miss seeing the fact that he’s one of the finest the modern era has witnessed. You can’t also miss seeing his storied personality. Wherever he’s gone he’s won trophies and troubles, with an unrivalled affinity for attention. His fame owes much to his off-field conduct and utterances as it does to his on-field prowess.
So what’s the evolution of this animal called JM? After apprenticeship under the famous Sir Bobby Robson, he made his first major impression by winning the champions league title with FC Porto in 2004 with some dream team, beating Sir Alex’s United along the way. Europe’s big guns stood up and took notice. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea project attracted him to Stamford Bridge, where he won the club their first league title in half a century with a record 95 point haul. He constituted a great team and put it on the continental map.
His next stop was at Inter Milan where he famously won the treble in 2009-10. If his Chelsea was solid and resolute, then his Inter was solid and resolute plus, especially in that historic season. At Real Madrid, Florentino Perez was assembling a second Galacticos and needed a Galactico manager. José landed in Madrid and took charge. Unfortunately, his tenure saw rivals Barcelona perfect the “tiki taka” and conquer Europe in stunning fashion. However, José Mourinho’s Madrid edged the Catalans to the league title in 2011-12 and won the Spanish Cup in the previous season.
The Chelsea-Mourinho love affair had another date in 2013 and he led the club to the Premier League title and later shockingly took them to 16th place in the course of the 2014-15 season, before leaving on mutual consent. Then came Manchester United, a club desperately in need of an heir to Sir Alex’s throne. The prospects were bright from all indications. Here was a world beating manager with pedigree to spare, to take the reigns of an iconic club that was negotiating its way back to the top of the club game. Although he won the League Cup, Community Shield and Europa League in 2016-17, his era fell woefully short of expectation.
What went wrong at United? Bottom line is that his United career had been underwhelming. First, I think he had been tinkering with the team for far too long. For the first time, I saw JM struggle to find a consistent starting team, albeit he had been occasionally hit by injuries. This didn’t give clear direction and style, two perimeters requisite for team progress.
There had also been storied differences between the manager and some players. This seems to be ever present in clubs he’s managed. In this case, he famously fell out with Paul Pogba and refused to play him in what became his last game for the club, against Liverpool. Manager-player disagreements often arise from man-management failure and this hardly augurs well for any entity. Plus, he didn’t help matters by constantly responding to criticism from various quarters, not least a host of club legends like Paul Scholes. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be.
Manchester United may have parted ways with him but the club’s problems are far from over. Their hunt for the next man must see them persue radical measures. They must let go of some players and bring in those that can enhance their revival. The next man needs to be given measured targets devoid of the knack for instant results at all cost. Zinedine Zidane and club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are already in the rumour mill to step in.
By now, one thing should be dawning on Mourinho; there’s a crop of young coaches who’ve caught up with him and shown superior competence. He must reinvent himself to stay afloat or gets submerged by the tides of their sheer ideals. From the “Special One” to the “Happy One” and probably now to the “Sad One”, José Mourinho has surely impacted on modern football. What’s next for him? Maybe first a sabbatical, then another hurrah, with the usual dose of trophies and troubles.
Yours in the beautiful game