At five feet nine inches, he’s not the tallest, but with an ego bigger than anyone else’s, he is definitely one of the biggest names in the footballing world. Jose Mourinho, or the ‘Special One’, has proven the world that he is one of the best managers in Europe, winning atleast one trophy a year throughout the last decade.
After short and successful spells with Benfica and Uniao de Leiria, Mourinho joined Porto and began to establish his reputation. After taking over mid-season and finishing third, he announced that ”I am absolutely sure that we will be champions next season.” His conviction was well founded as Porto made their way to the title. He also delivered the Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Cup, defeating Celtic 3-2 in the final after extra-time.
His tactics are physical, abrasive and high pressure starting from the front line, which are not always pretty to watch but seem effective. The opponent’s defenders were denied time on the ball, forcing errors and low percentage passes. It was tough for any team to play against Mourinho’s men.
If his first full season at Porto had brought huge success, it was eclipsed the season after. The league title was clinched five weeks before the season ended, they were undefeated at home and lost just two of the 34 matches played in the season. Mourinho’s magic moment came in the Champions League second leg tie away to Manchester United, when Costinha scored in the dying moments to turn elimination into qualification. The big pay off came in Germany, with a 3-0 victory over AS Monaco in the Champions League final.
He then turned another leaf or should I say, a golden leaf, in his career. He joined Chelsea. His first press conference after joining Chelsea will always be chiseled in everyone’s hearts for his immortal line ”Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m the European Champion and I think I’m a Special One.” It set the level of expectation and marked him out as someone different, as someone extraordinary. Mourinho smoothly crafted a team that was physical, thrived on pressuring opponents and defensively efficient. His key signings included Carvalho, Ferriera, Essien and Drogba.
His first taste of English Silverware came with a 3-2 extra time Carling Cup victory over Liverpool, followed by Chelsea’s first Championship in 50 years. As Mourinho said, “This is the start of a process, not the end. I want more from me and Chelsea.” The following season they retained the title after a 3-0 victory over Manchester United.
A large part of Mourinho’s magic lies in his charismatic personality and his abrasive but entertaining views on all things. Following their Champions League semi-final defeat in 2007, Mourinho congratulated Liverpool in his own style – “They are in the final and from my heart I hope they win it. The night belongs to them and I don’t want to criticise them, but the best team lost. After they scored only one team played, the other one just defended for the whole game and the linesman scored the goal. No one knows if that shot went over the line and you must be 100%.”
Mourinho’s relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich began to fray following the Russian Billionaire’s insistence on signing Andrei Shevchenko, who struggled to fit in or find his form, “I can tell you now to stop you from asking that, as long as he is not scoring, Shevchenko will play”, said Mourinho. On 20th September, 2007, after an indifferent start to the season (for Chelsea), Mourinho left the Club with mutual consent. During his three years managing the London outfit, Chelsea had broken the dominance of Manchester United and Arsenal, picked up six trophies and gone unbeaten at home in 60 Premier League matches (a record).
In part 2, we’ll look at Mourinho’s time at Inter Milan and his ongoing journey at Real Madrid.