José Mourinho is expected to return to work this summer, and despite an underwhelming end to his time with Manchester United, there will be no shortage of offers for the controversial figure who has built his career on achieving success at all costs.
His career in management began back in 2000 with Benfica in his native Portugal. Having worked alongside the likes of Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal at Barcelona previously, he had an early taste for what it takes to succeed at the very highest level, but he was a largely unknown name in the football world at that time.
Desire to succeed
To make his mark, Mourinho would need to do it against the odds, and his desire to prove the doubters wrong and establish himself amongst the very best gave him the motivation he needed. Committed, dedicated and focused, Mourinho would not stop until he had defied those who questioned his credentials.
Of course, Mourinho has a younger and hungrier figure back then, and it is clear that the modern game has taken its toll on the self-proclaimed special one. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United all parted company with Mourinho in ways he would choose to forget, and each failure must cast internal doubt.
A fear of failure has been Mourinho's downfall in recent times. Conservative, defensive systems has shown unnecessary caution in his game, and his demeanour has brought negativity to the changing room. Releasing him from the shackles of top-flight management has been in his own best interests.
But Mourinho is a brilliant manager. A brilliant coach. A figure who has defied the natural football order to achieve unparalleled success as manager despite having failed to make the grade as a player. He has earned respect from his players and managerial peers, and his career will not end in failure.
The next job is the biggest job
However, it is the hunger to succeed that Mourinho must find from within if he is to once again challenge for the biggest trophies with the biggest clubs. It is the fear of failure that will now be his motivation, and he will not want to tarnish the career that he has built for himself with the negative reputation that has crept up on him in recent years.
The biggest challenge facing Mourinho now is finding a project that will offer him the chance to challenge for at the highest level. For his next club, he may have to take a step backwards in terms of status, but such a project with the right amount of patience could be the perfect option for him right now.
His success at Inter Milan would make a return to Italy an attractive proposition. His fractious relationship with the Italian football press gave him the platform of which he thrived upon, and it was his controversy that gave him his unique spark. The bigger the reaction, the bigger the smile.
Mourinho never suited the dark clouds of negativity that dogged his final season at Manchester United. There was no spark, no hunger and no desire to reverse the decline. It was reflected in performances and results, and it made Mourinho unrecognisable both on and off the field.
Time to reflect
His recent sabbatical has offered him the opportunity to reflect and take stock of his career, and to ask himself why he has found himself out of work having managed some of the biggest clubs in the world. He will come back better for it, but the next job could be the biggest of his career.
Mourinho is currently at a crossroad, and he cannot afford to take the wrong job now. The football world believes that we have already seen the best of Mourinho, and the more he continues to manage, the further his reputation will decline. It is an opinion built on the solid evidence of recent failures.
It is only right that Mourinho is remembered as one of the greats, and he must now find the hunger that launched his career 20 years ago. Failure will be his biggest motivation, and having proved so many people wrong in the past, the challenge now is to do it all over again.
There is an irony in that Mourinho is considered one of the great man-managers of the modern era. The psychological bond that he has established with certain stars has shown his incredible ability to get inside the minds of his players and get the very best out of them.
Inside the mind of Mourinho
But now, it is Mourinho himself that needs his own mental therapy, and it is getting the best out of Mourinho that will define the remaining years of his managerial career. It is a motivation that must come from within, and while it could prove to be his toughest challenge yet, it is another challenge he will overcome.
And it is a challenge he will overcome because he has come too far, and achieved too much, to fail now. Many people have embraced his failures through jealousy and a general dislike for his persona, but he will not change. It makes him what he is, and that is an eternal winner.Published 26 May 2019, 19:38 IST