Jose Mourinho: 5 Reasons He Should Be England's Next Manager
Bullish words, but not without reason.
I couldn't stand Jose Mourinho when he first came to England. His arrogance and brash overconfidence were a stark contrast to the diet of cultured and controlled common sense I had been used to from Arsene Wenger. But a large part of my dislike of him was born out of that fact that he was so successful, especially against Arsenal. It pains me to type this, but he definitely had Arsene Wenger's number.
Having taken Chelsea to more glory in three years than they had managed in the previous thirty (or maybe more), he went to Inter Milan, where he won two Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and the UEFA Champions League in two turbulent seasons there.
And now he finds himself at Real Madrid, with the herculean task of knocking Barcelona, the undoubted team of the present century, off their exalted perch. And only a brave man will say with certainty that he will fail.
While he is loved in England, he is loathed in Italy and Spain. Why?
England have taken a formidable squad to every major tournament for as long as I can remember. Going back just a couple of years, they may not have had the talent of, say, Spain at the last World Cup. But they certainly had a potentially winning combination of flair, experience and physical prowess.
But something always goes wrong.
Fabio Capello is an outstanding football manager. 15 trophies in 15 years at four top clubs is testament to that. Then what went wrong with England?
It isn't as simple as I'm going to make it sound, but it was a case of the right man for the wrong job. England's most successful managers in the last thirty years have been Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables. To the best of my knowledge, neither was a master-tactician. Nor were they dictators.
And while I agree that football has moved on since Euro 96 (England's most recent "hurrah"), and that England needs more than a big brother as manager, I think the team is missing that key intangible ingredient. A combination of leadership, protection from the outside world, light-headedness and joie de vivre.
And the "Special One" is just the man for the job.
Now before anyone goes off on a tangent (too late?), I'm not suggesting he takes the job full-time. He won't consider it, and I cannot envisage Mourinho working part-time (which is what international football management is).
He should take on one assignment only—Euro 2012. He doesn't need to build a team—the layers are in place. The competition will spring no surprises—the opposition and their key players are known already. The FA need someone to quickly build momentum, and carry that through for a couple of months.
Jose Mourinho is the best answer. Read on to find out why...
1. He Knows the Players Well
Jose Mourinho spent three years at Chelsea. He managed the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, all of whom will probably be at Euro '12. He got the best out of England's forgotten man, Joe Cole, who, by the way, has eight goals and three assists in just 23 games for Lille this season.
He has also worked, albeit briefly, with Glen Johnson and Scott Parker, who will definitely be part of the squad. He would have, at various times, coveted, scouted or interacted with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Phil Jagielka, Rio Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Theo Walcott, Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney.
Familiarity with the players is a non-issue. He knows their game, individually and collectively. There will be no meet-and-greet or know-your-players process.
They can hit the ground running on day one of training.
2. He Is a Master Tactician
As I said on my cover slide, England need more than just a big brother as their manager.
Competition will be tough. Spain are again the team to beat, Holland have a strong and settled squad and have been consistently good for a while. Germany are always a force at major tournaments. And Italy can never be overlooked.
And while Mourinho hasn't yet mastered Barcelona (barring a Copa Del Rey final) as Real Madrid coach, he dumped them out of the Champions League while at Inter Milan. They played ugly, yet effective football. No one remembers how they "parked the bus". Everyone remembers them lifting the trophy at the Bernabeu.
Mourinho's tactics are simple, yet effective. His preparation is immaculate, and his teams are well drilled. Every player knows his job, and is given the system to make it succeed.
Spain are essentially Barcelona minus Messi, Alves and Abidal.
3. He Is Great at Building Team Spirit
John Terry will find trouble, even if trouble is Usain Bolt and is running away from him.
But while Jose Mourinho was at Chelsea, Terry was as good as he's ever been.
And it's been the same story at every club he's managed. Mourinho has this amazing way with players. A persona quite different from what the public sees via press interviews. Yes, for the final time in this piece, I promise you, something like a big brother.
His teams are, for the best part, happy and united. Barring a few exceptions, even the subs don't make too many disconcerting noises. And that translates into fantastic performances on the pitch. That translates into late equalizers and winners, it translates into holding on with ten men. It translates into a winning team.
I'm not sure how he does it. His relative youth, compared to other managers, must certainly help. But the bottom line is that his players are all singing from the same happy hymn sheet.
And if England can do the same at Euro 2012, "sing when you're winning" will become a happy reality.
4. The Media Circus Will Focus on Him
Who can ever forget Jose Mourinho's first interview in England? When he announced himself to the press by saying "Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one."
Brilliant. Nauseating, for sure. But brilliant!
Every time England go to a major tournament, a media circus accompanies them. Every move from every player (and WAG) is observed, scrutinized, analyzed, reported and beaten to death.
Players feel the heat of the relentless glare. And irrespective of whether it should or shouldn't, it definitely affects on-field performance. I know I'm not alone in believing that England play with the hand-brake on. They're trying ever so hard not to lose rather than busting a gut to win.
Enter The Special One. The ultimate media darling. The ever-reliable quote machine. The most bankable of brand ambassadors.
With the spotlight on the manager, the players will ease up a bit, and maybe play with a bit more freedom, passion and flair. And maybe, just maybe, they will reproduce some of their club form while in a three lions shirt.
5. He Loves English Football
The actual document may have been issued in Portugal, but if footballing nationality could be chosen and not conferred by default, Jose Mourinho's passport would most definitely be British.
He loves the country, he loves the way football is played and most importantly, he loves the passion, excitement and joy surrounding the game in England. He openly confesses that his time at Chelsea was his happiest as manager. And there is no doubt that his next managerial destination is England.
While the entire country is clamoring for an English manager, it would not be amiss to look at an outstanding manager who, from a footballing point of view, happily considers himself a native, and identifies with the football that is played in England.
Tactics, planning, team selection, mental conditioning—yes, they're all important. But passion, especially in the international game, supersedes everything. Passion for the game and passion for the country.
Jose Mourinho has both.
It's high time the Special One became the Chosen One.