I watched Jose Mourinho’s first public appearance on TV since his sacking by Manchester United. For large parts, I noticed a man that was irritated and angry with the world. It was a far cry from the charming and witty man that entered England with Chelsea in 2004.
He alluded to have changed since he has got older during one of his monologues. The change has been for the worse I feel. Jose Mourinho today is a negative and snarly personality. That is the image he portrays to the world.
All throughout, he spoke about his past achievements. They were worthy achievements that he can be proud of. What he has won in his career cannot be taken away from him. However, constantly harking back to the past gives an indication of a man who is near the end.
His defensive stance has also got to do with the natural instinct to defend oneself when cornered. I have always admired Mourinho since before he became an Inter manager. He had this air of invincibility and rightful cockiness and delivered whatever he said he would and was fair.
As a character, you either liked or disliked. His reputation of being a defensive manager which I feel is unfair. When questioned on his reputation of “parking the bus”, he pointed out that he won the La Liga with Real Madrid breaking the record for the number of points gained and a number of goals scored. To be fair, I don’t think anyone can say his Real Madrid teams were defensive.
He pointed out as well that in the momentous Treble-winning season with Inter, Inter came from behind to beat Barcelona 3-1 at San Siro. As an Inter fan, I was surprised myself at the strategy applied in that game. Inter pressed high and forced Barcelona into making mistakes. It is not an exaggeration when Mourinho said that Inter could have scored more than 3 goals in that game.
For Mourinho what matters the most is to win. It does not matter how his team plays as long as they win. As an Inter fan, I have witnessed Inter attacking and scoring goals for fun. I have also seen them sit back and hit opponents on the counter to win. That was also seen while he was the manager of Manchester United.
It is true that the bottom line of playing competitive sport is to win. Not everyone can win and not everyone has the same objective when competing. For some, they want to win in style while for others they just want to win. Mourinho admitted that he just wants to win. It’s no good playing good football and has nothing to show for it.
In his words, he said if a team can play good football, win football matches and trophies it would be fantastic. It doesn’t sound like he is against that idea. His natural instinct though is to keep it safe and win. I remember his Chelsea teams between 2004-06. They had steel about them that made them hard to penetrate. They were also devastating on the counter attacks with speed and precision.
He defended his reputation of being dour and unspectacular by comparing himself with Diego Simeone. Simeone is rightly praised for what he has done with Atletico Madrid since he took over. He achieved his success in a league dominated by 2 giants in the form of Real Madrid and Barcelona. His style of football goes completely against the norm of playing well to win in Spain. Yet, Simeone doesn’t get as much flak as Mourinho does.
In my opinion, Mourinho’s teams when on song and in full flow, play better than Simeone’s. There was also the point on unfair treatment by the FA and media of Mourinho. As seen in his recent stint at United, Mourinho has got punished for things that other managers are not even pulled up for.
I feel this is just a result of the prejudice some have for him due to the character that he is. It is unfair but it is the truth. He touched on the support Klopp and Guardiola received from their respective board.
To say that United’s board did not fully support him would be false. For the amount of money spent in his time, he should have got the team to play better and achieve better results. It is true that he should have been allowed to spend more if he feels he needs to. Very clearly, the bond between the board and Mourinho broke somewhere which led to his sacking.
It is incomprehensible to have offered the manager a contract extension 6 months before and then not fully backing him in the summer. The board was clearly naïve to have not noticed his pattern in his recent past of self-destructing in his third season in a club.
I am of the opinion that in the case of Klopp, he convinced his board of what he can achieve with performances on the pitch and of progress. That lead to the board supporting him fully as his time at the club went on. City, since they became newly rich, has always been ready to throw the money to support their manager and did the same again with Guardiola. No surprise there.
United, on the other hand, is a mess in the boardroom level. The present good results have shifted everyone’s attention to matters on the pitch. There is still some sorting out to be done in the boardroom level when it comes to decisions involving the football side of things. Mourinho hinted at that as have Van Gaal. There is no smoke without any fire.
Mourinho has to take as much time as possible now to just find himself again. He has to get to grips with modern football and let go of the bitterness. I feel maybe a role as a national team manager could suit him next.