Jose Mourinho: Has "The Special One" Bitten Off More Than He Can Chew At Real?

Alex FrancisCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2011

Not so special?
Not so special?Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho is a character that divides opinion. Some like his brash, arrogance and huge ego, whereas some hate everything about the man, from his taste in clothes to his tactics. But there is one thing that cannot be disputed. The man is a winner.

At every club he has managed, he has rewritten the history books. He won major honours at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but has he taken on a task that is even for a man of his ability and supreme confidence in his ability, mission impossible?

When Porto stunned Europe to win the UEFA Champions League in 2004, little was known about this brash, abrasive young manager who had taken an unfavoured team to the pinnacle of European football, but one thing was for sure; the world was his.

So it was no surprise when he pitched up in West London at Chelsea and took on the challenge of breaking the duopoly of the Premier League title.

In the 12 seasons since the inception of the Premier League which replaced the old First Division, three clubs had shared the Premier League title, but it was usually contested between Manchester United (93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 00, 01, 03) and Arsenal (98, 02, 04).

Blackburn Rovers (95) being the other club, if you like that had dared muscle in to take the crown.

However, when Jose Mourinho arrived in England, with the ever-so-famous line "I'm a special one," the landscape of English football was changing.

Manchester United, so dominant throughout the Premier League years, were a team in transition, having witnessed the break up of Ferguson's magnificent treble winners in 99.

Newcastle United, who had come close on two separate occasions to wrestling the title from Sir Alex Ferguson, were sliding down the table; Liverpool, themselves winners of a cup treble in 2001, had a belief that they could end what had then been a 13-year wait for the title; and Arsenal had just gone through the entire 38-game season unbeaten.

The summer before the arrival of Mourinho, Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, purchased Chelsea, who although a respectable team, had not won the league for 50 years and hadn't ever come close during the Premier League years.

What was to follow was to change the landscape of English football forever. He embarked on the biggest spending spree ever seen on these shores.

Players were brought for twice, sometimes three times their market value because Chelsea, or more accurately, Abramovich had very deep pockets and long arms to dig as deep into those pockets as he wished.

The newfound wealth led many football "fans" to pick Chelsea as their team now that they could it seem, challenge on a regular basis for the title.

However, that season, 2003-40 was to be Arsenal's, as they, led by Henry and Vieira, blew aside all challengers, remained unbeaten and took the title.

So now we have the stage set, all we need is the actor to take to it and Jose Mourinho did not disappoint.

Although many questioned his tactics, he led Chelsea, again backed by a lavish spending spree by Ambramovich, to their first title in 50 years as well as the League Cup and the semi finals of the Champions League, where they fell victim to Luis Garcia's "ghost goal."

The following season, again, backed by an open cheque book, he repeated the feat and retained the title, something that Arsene Wenger has never managed and although dumped out of the Champions League by eventual winners Barcelona, Mourinho was again backed in the transfer market by Abramovich.

But not to the extent that he would have liked, and the seeds of dissension that would ultimately lead to his departure had been sown.

In his final full year in charge of Chelsea, he finished runner up in the league as Manchester United, fresh out of transition and propelled by the twin forces of Rooney and Ronaldo, took the title and he took Chelsea to another semi-final defeat again against Liverpool, but this time on penalties.

Mourinho did have the last laugh over Ferguson when the Blues defeated the Red Devils in the first FA Cup final at the New Wembley.

By his own admission, that was when he should have called it a day at Chelsea. However, he stayed and when Chelsea started the 2007-8 season in alarming fashion, with defeats at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa as well as a 1-1 draw with Rosenberg in front of a half-empty Stamford Bridge crowd, Abramovich, who did not back Mourinho as lavishly as he had in summers gone by, acted, and handed the charismatic Mourinho his P45.

Mourinho soon pitched up at Inter Milan, who unlike Chelsea were a real sleeping giant of world football and who had been propelled to the top dogs in Italian football after the fallout from the Calciopoli scandal that took Juventus into Serie B and stripped away AC Milan's potency.

Just like his time in England, Mourinho was in a league where his team was head and shoulders above the rest and where he was backed by the oil baron Massimo Morratti.

As expected, he delivered them the title in his first season, but it was his second season, when having sold Imbrahimovic and gained Samuel Eto'o, he brought in Sneijder, Lucio and Pandev and promptly took Inter to the treble of Italian Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League, becoming only the second manager in history to win the Champions League with two different clubs. And just like that he was gone.

Which brings us up to date. Now the Special One is in charge of arguably the richest team in the world, in a league with only one real competitor for the title, but things are not the same.

Real Madrid, the team who came up with the idea of the Champions League, or the European Cup as it was named, expect everything.

The league, the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League. BUT they expect it all to be achieved by playing attractive, attacking football. Something that Jose Mourinho is not a practitioner of.

The other difficulty for Mourinho is that he expects to have TOTAL control of the club. From the transfers to the reserves, in essence, a manager, as opposed to a coach. But at Real Madrid, it doesn't work like that.

He has a sporting director, a president and a wild and rampant media that he has to answer to. Jorge Valdano, the Madrid sporting director and number two to Florentino Perez, called Mourinho's football, when Jose was in charge of Inter, "shit on a stick.". Hardly a ringing endorsement of your coach.

Things have not exactly gotten off to a bad start. Real are second in the league to Barcelona by four points, through comfortably to the second round of the Champions League and have one foot in the final of the Copa Del Rey.

Yet there is talk of Mourinho leaving at the end of the season. Why?

There could be several reasons behind this. I don't think that he realised exactly what the Real Madrid job entailed when he took it over. I don't think he likes not having TOTAL control of the playing side of the club.

I don't think he likes the fact that the Madrid media get on his back for not playing attractive enough football, despite the fact that they have lost only one game in the league, although that was some defeat, spanked 5-0 at the Nou Camp.

I don't think he particularly likes Valdano, or the concept of having a sporting director at all. But most of all, I think that he himself actually is beginning to doubt whether he can overhaul Barcelona, who are setting and then breaking all kinds of records.

Whether Mourinho actually does follow through on his threat to leave remains to be seen.

He could be attempting to lever himself into a position whereby he has more control and can then remove the spectre of the Sporting Director, or he may in actual fact, be contemplating whether he can overhaul Barcelona, because if he stays at Madrid for say three years and only has the Copa Del Rey to show for his efforts, his time there would have to be considered a failure.

But if he leaves after a year, finishes runner up to Barcelona and manages to sneak on the Copa Del Rey, then who is to call him a failure? Especially if he spouts the line about Valdano and the media making it impossible for him to carry on working there. 


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