I never thought I’d see the day when I defend Jose Mourinho. Arrogant, self-righteous, condescending… he’s the embodiment of (almost) everything I hate about football. And then again, the man is nothing short of a genius in this sport. You want to talk about success? How about this?
Son of a somewhat decent footballer and manager, Jose Mourinho didn’t amount to anything much on the playing field. He had some very short stints at modest clubs, before deciding to focus on coaching. But even that wasn’t going very well. Mourinho was a simple phys ed teacher, with very little coaching experience, when fortune smiled upon him and he was brought on as a translator for manager Bobby Robson, at Sporting Lisbon. That was in 1992. Fast forward 11 years and he’s winning the Portuguese league, Portuguese cup and UEFA Cup with FC Porto, in his first full season as a manager! Fast forward one more year and he’s winning the Champions League! The man won the most important trophy in club football after only two years on the job! Between 2003 and 2012, Jose Mourinho didn’t go one single season without winning at least a trophy, and he’s won all the silverware available in England, Italy and Spain.
Fast forward once more to this weekend. Chelsea, managed by Jose Mourinho for the second time in his career, lose 3-1 to Liverpool at home, after leading 1-0. The Londoners are a lowly 15th in the Premier League, just four points clear of the relegation zone. Suddenly there’s a lot of talk about how Chelsea should sack Mourinho. Even celebrities take to social media to poke fun at the Portuguese and call for his head. #taxiforjose is a popular hashtag on Twitter, launched by golfer Rory McIlroy. If there ever was a man deserving of a break, that man is Jose Mourinho. Who won the Premier League title last season? Jose Mourinho! Who won the League Cup last season? Jose Mourinho! Chelsea have won 30 trophies in 110 years of club history. Eight of them were won under Jose Mourinho, in a total six years that he’s spent at Stamford Bridge so far. So please, give the man a break!
Luckily, not everybody is so quick to call for Mourinho‘s sacking. Former England international and BBC presenter Gary Lineker reminded fans, via Twitter, that “no team in Premier League history has won the title and been relegated the following season”. Bittersweet and not quite encouraging, I know. Personally, I liked Piers Morgan‘s reaction the most. “Mourinho hasn’t won Premier League for 5 months & media are baying for his blood. Wenger hasn’t won it for 11yrs, media give him free pass“ twitted Morgan, an Arsenal fan, alluding to his favourite club’s trophy draught.
What might be the ugly truth, however, is that Jose Mourinho no longer has the players’ backing. These aren’t the same players he bought, developed and bonded with in his first four years at the club. They’re a different breed, and they’ve already been accused of not fighting hard enough to help their manager.