Can Jose Mourinho still be a success?

By Will HM

Jose Mourinho hasn’t been in management since December 2018, getting the axe from the Manchester United board due to a negative playing style, falling out with players and promoting more experienced professionals over United’s flourishing youth.

Some would argue that Jose Mourinho overachieved at the Manchester club accomplishing a 2nd place finish with reds in the 2017/18 season racking up 81 points (a tally that would have won United the league in previous seasons). However, United finished 19 points behind their closest rivals Manchester City in Mourinho’s final complete season raising the question, can Jose Mourinho still compete at the highest level of management or are his tactics and playing style dated in modern football. 

Mourinho has won eight league titles in four different countries and two champions leagues with Porto and Inter Milan putting him in company with 19 other managers who have accomplished such a feat. However, it’s his most recent managerial form that points toward the end of the special one’s success.

Football is a progressive game and only few of the very best managers have managed to evolve and develop different ways of playing and in this case with Mourinho its entirely feasible to suggest he is falling behind. The problem with Mourinho is his egomaniacal approach to management, his constant headline-grabbing one liner’s in interviews and animated performances on the touchline have made him a divisive character. 

Once lauded for his impressive achievements in his early career Mourinho is starting to overshadow this with recent failures and persistent suggestions that he is still ‘the special one’ in Paddy Power adverts.  

Mourinho’s lack of success at United can be justified though. Following the best manager in the club’s history it was always going to be a task to fill the shoes of Sir Alex Ferguson. The Manchester side have chopped and changed managers in recent years attempting to recapture their Premier league dominance although constant changes in philosophy and vision for the club going forward has resulted in inconsistent performances, poor recruitment and no real direction.

Mourinho was employed to essentially save an already sinking ship and although he did win the Europa League with the Red Devils it was the following transfer window that sealed Mourinho’s fate. Only being allowed to sign Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk in a 50 million pound deal the board didn’t fully back Jose resulting in dispute between the higher-ups and the manager. His successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did temporarily rejuvenate the 13-time Premier League champions however another change in philosophy has resulted in the same old problems suggesting there is a far deeper issue, one that solely isn’t the fault of the special one. 

The former United boss is now residing in his hometown in Setubal most likely reflecting on his career and waiting for the perfect project; doing some punditry on the side to get a different perspective of the game.

Rushing into another job wouldn’t have been wise from the Portuguese man, therefore, waiting for the right opportunity may be a stroke of genius. Mourinho is still a serial winner, however, he needs the correct resources and a club philosophy that matches his to be successful. Jose isn’t a Mauricio Pochettino or Jurgen Klopp, his idea isn’t to build a team from the ground up but to be an instant success in successive seasons something more suited to the likes of Real Madrid. 

This image by Aleksandr Osipov complies with the Creative Commons License.

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