What has happened to Jose Mourinho? Why the ‘Special One’ is not so special anymore…


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has not taken to life easily in the Old Trafford hot seat. The Red Devils have only managed 5 wins in their first 14 games this season leaving them in 6th place, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea. Head of Sport at Nerve Radio, Chuck Adolphy, gives his views on why the Portuguese manager has fallen from grace:

The first football team I truly delved myself into and loved as a schoolboy was Chelsea’s 2004/05 Premier League title-winning side.

I have fond memories of watching a young, cocky Mourinho running up and down the sideline in his infamous long, grey coat. This is stark contrast to his recent woes which has seen him sent to the stands twice this season.

The good old days: A younger looking Jose at Porto in 2004.

The good old days: A younger looking Jose at Porto in 2004.

Brand Mourinho + Arrogance = Expectation

To truly understand the recent downfall of the otherwise untouchable tactician, part of the problem lies far deeper than it may appear on the surface. Mourinho is a brand and has been for a long period of time.

He announced himself on the global footballing stage winning the Champions League as Porto boss in 2004. Across the world, people bought into the charismatic, fiery personality but the football purist didn’t.

Mourinho has always been a one-off, contradicting the stereotypical manager mould. Whilst he played professional football, he only amassed 94 games in the Portuguese leagues. He defied the odds and rose to stardom rapidly and whilst not every football fan adored him, he had the full attention of them.

This is fundamental to understanding his current wrongdoings and perhaps why we should have expected such a downfall. Combine this with the undoubted egotistical nature of the man and the whole football world expects. When you buy the hottest new gadget in the market, you expect the performance to match. When you hire Jose Mourinho, the same thing applies.

Manager from no where – it’s rarely been done

There have been other successful managers who have not had the dazzling playing careers that may be expected, although Mourinho’s number of domestic titles is probably an even larger number. The Wenger love affair with Arsenal, Arrigo Sacchi’s back-to-back European cups at AC Milan to name a couple.

Rivals: Wenger and Jose have never seen eye to eye - perhaps due to their lack of playing days.

Rivals: Wenger and Jose have never seen eye to eye – perhaps due to their lack of playing days.

The list becomes even shorter if you consider long-term success, say over a decade. In terms of the Premier League, the Gunners boss stands alone. But why is it so difficult to break through into the managerial ranks without having a successful playing career?

There are more obvious, logistical reasons – retired players have their foot in the door already and have a experience in the environment. But crucially, they have empathy for the players they are managing.

This is something that Mourinho will never have and while he successfully managed players such as Ibrahimovic, Lampard and Ronaldo, he will never be able to level with them from his own experiences.

Ego vs the players

Although it may never  be known to why the capitulation at Chelsea took place last season, Mourinho’s ability to man manage must be questioned. Despite having successful relationships with a lot of his players, much of this is out of respect to Mourinho and belief in his wisdom. However, man to man when things aren’t going as they’re expected to be, it appears Mourinho has a lack of empathy towards his players.

Turmoil: Things started to go wrong at Chelsea after an incident with club doctor Eva Caneiro.

Turmoil: Things started to go wrong at Chelsea after an incident with club doctor Eva Caneiro.

The ego then takes over. Things begun to go wrong for Jose at Real Madrid and due to his egotistical nature it’s never his fault. He decides to blame the players and not take responsibility for his own mistakes. For years Sir Alex Ferguson and Wenger have constantly moaned about referees and other teams; it’s never the fault of the players though.

Victim of his own success

There’s no denying. He’s a tactical genius. He sees the game like no one else. I vividly remember scenes of him bringing Joe Cole on for Chelsea many years ago only to sub him off 20 minutes later. Moments like these are dubbed as pure genius when things are going your way.

The fiery arrogance that allows Jose to make such a bold, game-changing decision is the same attitude that has caused the ‘loss of the dressing room’ at Chelsea and arguably the flop at Madrid. Mourinho understands that part of successfully managing a team is nurturing players and keeping a strong relationship with them.

Conclusion – make me a laughing stock Jose!

When the going get’s tough, his ego rides strong and Mourinho has no empathy for his players. He has time to save it at United but the signs are there. It will be just testament to the man that I will eat my words by the end of the season and he will be reincarnated as the ‘Special One’. For now though, he’s not so special anymore.