Current Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful managers in football history. But the Portuguese is also one of the most polarising characters in the sport too. Over the years, we’ve seen Mourinho’s dark side emerge on numerous occasions, and this often manifests itself in feuds with his own players.
As the former manager of huge clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester United, Mourinho has been in charge of some truly legendary players. And he’s also clashed with plenty of them, with some seeing their careers take a general downturn because of it.
Here are five players who clashed with Jose Mourinho.
#1 Paul Pogba
Mourinho’s time at Manchester United was an up-and-down one. But perhaps the issue that summed up his reign there more than anything else was his feud with Paul Pogba. Signed in the summer of 2016 for a then-world record of £89m just months after Mourinho’s arrival at the club, Pogba was supposed to be the player to take United back to the top of the Premier League.
Unfortunately, things between the two men simply didn’t work out at all. Things started well, with Mourinho describing the Frenchman as one of the best players in the world. And despite Pogba’s patchy form through the 2016-17 season, the Portuguese continued to defend him against his detractors.
However, things took a sour turn when Pogba picked up a hamstring injury in September 2017. Rather than stay in Manchester, the Frenchman flew to Miami to recover – and cracks in his relationship with the Portuguese soon followed.
A loss to Tottenham in January 2018 saw Pogba hauled off after just an hour, and soon after, the Frenchman found himself dropped to the bench. By March 2018, rumours were floating around that the pair were barely on speaking terms. And by the start of the 2018-19 season, it was clear that the relationship was irreparable.
The Frenchman was stripped of the club’s vice-captaincy after a clash in September 2018. And a dressing room row in December 2018 reportedly saw Mourinho label Pogba as “a virus”.
In the end, the Frenchman would have the last laugh. Just weeks later, United fired the Portuguese boss after a poor run of form. And Pogba responded with a cryptic tweet – that was later deleted – showing him sporting a wry smile and stating “caption this”.
It was a thinly-veiled shot at Mourinho, who would later state that he always risked being sacked if he angered Pogba – who he referred to as “His Excellency”.
#2 Pedro Leon
His name might not be as familiar as that of Paul Pogba and Iker Casillas, but few players clashed with Mourinho quite so badly as Pedro Leon. The Spanish winger was bought to Real Madrid from Getafe during the Portuguese’s first transfer window at the club and was expected to make an immediate impact.
However, to say that things didn’t turn out that way would be an understatement. Leon struggled to find his way into Real’s first team and ended up making just six league appearances for the Portuguese. Reportedly, Mourinho wasn’t happy with his commitment in training.
Things got even worse when the press questioned why Leon had been left out of a Champions League tie with Auxerre. In typical Mourinho fashion, he responded that “you talk of Pedro Leon as if he was Zidane or Maradona. He was playing for Getafe two days ago." In the end, it became clear that Mourinho simply wasn’t willing to use the winger.
Leon was unsurprisingly shipped back to Getafe a year after he arrived at the Bernabeu, at first on loan and eventually in a permanent deal. Even that move was blamed on Mourinho, though. Leon claimed that he had a move to Chelsea lined up. But the former Blues boss decided to block it, telling the winger he wouldn’t play much there either.