The Mourinho machine has been rampaging across Europe for the past decade, but is “the Special One” starting to crack? Since 2002, Jose Mourinho has not gone a full calendar year without winning at least one trophy. Will 2013 be the year that the Portuguese maestro finally comes unstuck?
His list of accolades as a football manager are tremendous, almost legendary. Since 2002 he has brought overwhelming success to four reknowned clubs within the European arena; Porto, Chelsea, Internazionale (or Inter Milan to you and me) and Real Madrid – where he still resides. Across those four clubs, between 23rd February 2002 and 2nd April 2011, the teams he led went unbeaten in 150 home league matches.
In Portugal, he took Porto to consecutive Primeira Liga wins in 2002-03 and 2003-04, winning the UEFA Cup in his first season before stepping up to win the Champions League in the following season. Porto, in fact, won the treble in 2002-03 with the added honour of the Taca de Portugal – the Portuguese equivalent of the FA Cup.
Mourinho’s rise to fame with Porto landed him a job in the Premier League with Chelsea in the summer of 2004. He led the Blues into an era of dominance in the Premier League, winning the title consecutively in his first two seasons whilst collecting an FA Cup, the Community Shield and two League Cups whilst he was at it. However, several frictions began to emerge between himself and the chairman, Roman Abramovich, especially after the appointment of Avram Grant as director of football (something Mourinho had strongly opposed from the start). He eventually left the club in September 2007 after becoming Chelsea’s most successful manager.
It wasn’t until June 2008 that he decided to settle for another job, with Internazionale (as they insist on calling it). In his two seasons there, he championed Serie A and completed the treble in the 2009-10 season as Inter claimed the Coppa Italia and the Champions League – although, as some might remember, Mourinho will have a lot to thank striker Diego Milito for in that season.
After winning the treble in Italy, the first ever to do so, he landed a dream job with Real Madrid. But this is where the first cracks in his legendary career began to show. Despite winning the Copa del Rey in his opening season against bitter rivals Barcalona and dominating La Liga last season, Mourinho appears to have not done much so far. I fear the weight of expectation may have been placed too heavily on the Special One.
As disappointed players have said on Sunday League pitches for decades (as well as Arsenal fans since 2005), ‘there is always next season’. But this season has got no better for poor old Jose.
Currently, Real Madrid sit 16 points behind their El Clasico rivals Barcelona, and to add insult to injury they’re also five points behind their local rivals Atletico Madrid. Results are not going his way anymore.
Now the fans are getting on his back. Tensions grew when he lost faith in his long-standing number one goalkeeper and Spanish international Iker Casillas, arguably one of the finest goalkeepers in the world. Most recently, Casillas appeared in FIFA’s team of the year. Yet Mourinho decided to drop him just before Christmas, losing his place to Antonio Adan who had been serving at the club for 16 years.
But Casillas is a fan favourite at the Bernabeu; the fans booed when Mourinho’s name was called out before the game, whereas Casillas was cheered when he was called out as a substitute. Ironically, in Real Madrid’s last La Liga outing at home to Real Sociedad, Casillas ended up playing most of the game when Adan was sent off after six minutes.
There are also other issues stirring in Madrid. The £35 million signing of Luka Modric from Tottenham Hotspur has not gone well for the Croatian and he is already being linked with a move back to the Premier League – perhaps a major transfer mistake by Mourinho. Madrid also risk losing their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, as he is linked to a move back to Manchester United. How long will it be before the board of directors grow impatient with this extensive blip by Mourinho?
Mourinho, however, continues to be unpredictable. Madrid won their last game 4-0 in the Copa del Rey, with Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick. Maybe he is about to turn things around. However, if he fails to win anything this season, a Real Madrid board will grow tiresome – especially a board that is renowned for its intolerance of failure; in the seven seasons before Mourinho’s appointment, they went through eleven managers.
Perhaps 2013 will be unlucky for some.