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Jose Mourinho

(Opinion) Weep not for Jose Mourinho by Tayo Ogunbiyi

Jose Mourinho sacked Coach of Chelsea
Jose Mourinho sacked Coach of Chelsea

After, perhaps, the worst start to a season, in which his club, Chelsea FC of England, had only been able to garner a paltry 15 points out of their 16 league games so far, and are 16th in the table, one point above the relegation places, Chelsea Football Club and its maverick manager, Jose Mourinho, have finally parted company for the second time in seven years. Of late, results have not been favourable to the team. At the beginning of the current premiership season, no one, not even the most respected soccer pundits, could have predicted that ‘mighty’ Chelsea would be in the relegation zone after 16 matches.
But then, that is the awful reality. A spell of bad results has seen Chelsea lost a total of nine matches out of sixteen played so far, a sharp departure from the 2014/15 season when it won the premiership losing only three matches. Things have, indeed, gone so bad for Chelsea that it has become an object of cruel jokes among soccer fans. The joke around town is that Chelsea is currently on a bonanza that involves giving out three points to any club they meet. Can you blame the originators of this joke? The manner of losses that Chelsea has been recording of late could make the most ardent admirer of the team to lose sleep. Though football is, by and large, an unpredictable game, but the manner of Chelsea losses to lowly teams without rich football pedigree, has become rather embarrassing and at the same time appalling.
Ironically, sacked manager, Jose Mourinho is the most successful manager in the club’s history. In his two spells at the club, the 52-year-old Portuguese has won three league titles, FA Cup, Community Shield and three League Cups thus making him the most successful manager in the club’s 110-year history. It could be argued that it was Mourinho that turned the club into a global brand that it is today. The successes recorded by the club under Mourinho’s watch, no doubt, won for it huge number of fan base across the world. In Nigeria, for instance, lots of football fans support Chelsea FC on the basis of the work done by Mourinho.
Undoubtedly, Mourinho is a leading coach with an unbelievable winning aura. Everywhere he goes success seems to trail him. Before his first spell at Chelsea, Mourinho got global notice when he won the 94/95 prestigious UEFA Champions League with little known FC Porto in his native Portugal. It was that singular feat that caught the attention of the soccer world and, of course, gave him the breakthrough he had in his coaching career. Ever since, he had never looked back. In his first spell at Chelsea, he made the club premier league champions for the first time in fifty years. While in Italy with Seria A giants, Inter Milan of Italy, Mourinho’s pedigree as a winner soared to greater heights. He spent just two seasons with the team and won almost everything there is to be won. In his second and last season at Inter, Mourinho won the three available trophies namely the Italian Seria A title, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. At Real Madrid in Spain, Mourinho was equally successful as he won a couple of trophies in his three seasons in Spain.
Till date, Mourinho remains one of the very few football managers in the world that has won league titles in the three major football leagues of the world namely England, Italy and Spain. This, indeed, explains why he is one of the highest paid and most sought after coaches in the world. This, of course, is where it all ends for Mourinho. Mourinho is a very controversial personality. Anywhere he goes, trouble follows him. For Mourinho, trouble and controversies are part of his trade. While at Portuguese Club, FC Porto, where he got his career breakthrough, Mourinho had a running battle with the club’s hierarchy. It was so bad that when the team won the prestigious UEFA Champions league title in the 2004/2005 season, Mourinho was not part of the celebration. Indeed, it was reported that out of anger he threw his winner’s medal into the crowd, went into the locker room, packed his things and left the team he had led to an unprecedented victory in a rather unceremonious manner.
Such has since been the style of Jose Mourinho. In his first spell as the coach of Chelsea FC, he reportedly had heated arguments with the billionaire owner of the club, Russian born Romans Abramovich. He reportedly stormed the team’s training session the following day and announced he was quitting. Most of the players who had come to see him as a father figure and motivator openly burst into tears begging him not to leave. But not Mourinho. He has had his mind made up and straight to Italy he went. While at Italy, the story remained the same. Mourinho brought successes and glory to Inter Milan FC but so also was trouble. Plenty of it at that! By the end of his second season at the club, he had fallen out with the club’s hierarchy. And to Spain he went with Real Madrid FC as the destination. At Madrid, Mourinho, as usual, was modestly successful. But characteristically, he couldn’t stop courting trouble. It was during his time at the club that ‘El Clasico’, the traditional annual showdowns between the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, became quite very messy, overtly combative and too temperamental. It got so bad that Mourinho sometimes had to engage in fisticuffs with Barcelona players. Not only that, Mourinho equally fell out with the hierarchy of the team as well as a few senior players such as Ike Cassier and Christiano Ronaldo. Things became so bad that Mourinho accused some of his players of being moles that leaked out his team’s tactics to opposing teams. It was, therefore, not surprising that Mourinho had to leave Spain after his third season at Real Madrid.
His departure of the Spanish capital eventually landed him back in England where he began his second spell as Chelsea’s manager. According to reports, the initial plan of the club’s owner was to make Mourinho one of the longest serving coaches at Chelsea in the order of former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger. His recent sack, after only eighteen months has, however, cut short this possibility. As usual, Mourinho brought controversies and trouble back to the English Premiership. Both on and off the field, Mourinho was a handful. When he was not trouble shooting with the referees, he was having a dig at the English FA. Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, with whom Mourinho never see eye to eye, was soon to fall under the caustic tongue of the latter. Mourinho referred to Wenger as a ‘specialist in failure’, an assertion that was seen as a huge act of disrespect to the modestly successful Wenger who had won the English Premiership three times and the English FA Cup six times (more than any other coach in the cup’s history).
His team’s recent 2-2 draw Swansea FC of Wales was overshadowed by fallout with team doctor, Eva Carneiro. Carneiro had her role downgraded after Mourinho labeled his medical staff as “naive”. Eva Carneiro eventually left the service of the club in September. She is currently taking legal action against Mourinho and the club. Mourinho also received a suspended stadium ban and £50,000 fine for claiming referees were “afraid” to award his team penalties in a 3-1 home loss to Southampton in October. He later had to serve a one-match stadium ban and pay a £40,000 fine for his behaviour during a 2-1 defeat by West Ham, when he spoke to referee Jon Moss at half-time.
On the field of play, as results began to get from bad to worse for Mourinho and Chelsea, he blamed everyone except himself for the poor results. That has always been Mourinho’s style. When things are rosy, he basks in the glory as the ‘special one’. But when things get bad, it is either some of his players are moles or they are outrightly betraying him. Mourinho’s recent ordeal is a pointer to the fact that talent isn’t enough to manage success. He is a successful manager, no doubt. But he seems to have become a prisoner to his successes. He couldn’t manage the fame that came along with being successful. His current ordeal might be a blessing in disguise for him, if he is able to take a sober reflection over his past failings and objectively make amends. Who knows? A more sober, mature and humble Mourinho might yet again take the soccer world by storm.

Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

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