Jose Mourinho has never been a man lacking self confidence. However in the early part of his managerial career, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t deserve his self proclaimed moniker. So why are the big online bookmakers offering bets on him being the next Premier League manager to be sacked? Is this reactionary nonsense, or is Jose really not special any more?
In the early days of his fame, the Special One was a trophy winning machine, first conquering Portugal and Europe with Porto, the unlikely Champions League winners in 2004. He then got the big move to Chelsea and won the league in his first two seasons, forcing the mighty Sir Alex Ferguson to rebuild his squad for a third time before he eventually wrestled back domestic dominance.
Mourinho’s reward for finishing second to United in his third season at Chelsea was to be sacked next season. But even that didn’t tarnish his legacy, as he joined Inter Milan and took them to an equally unlikely European triumph in 2010.
Next came the move to Real Madrid, but despite managing to wrestle the La Liga title back from the mighty Barcelona side, he was unable to replicate his European successes at the Bernabeu. This is of course the one prize that Real value more than any, and it was inevitable that Mourinho’s time there would end, leaving after three seasons in charge.
This may have been the point at which his reputation began to be tarnished, as his time at Madrid was marred by internal squabbles, and was largely regarded as a failure due to the lack of Champions League success.
A return to Chelsea was inevitable, as was a Premier League title win in his second season back. But then things unravelled completely, starting with the infamous fallout with Eva Carneiro, who then sued Mourinho for constructive dismissal. Dressing room unrest and an associated collapse in form followed, and it was no surprise when he was sacked by Roman Abramovic for a second time. His reputation was probably now at its lowest point since his managerial career began.
But then step forward Manchester United, desperately in need of a strong leader after their disastrous few years after Ferguson’s retirement. Jose was the man for the job, was given a huge transfer budget and tasked with returning Britain’s biggest club to domestic dominance.
That hasn’t happened though. Instead, Pep Guardiola came back to haunt Mourinho again by transforming local rivals Man City into the dominant force instead, creating a team with a record winning run, and creating probably one of the best sides the Premier League has ever seen. Mourinho has won a couple of cups, but his team is trailing in City’s wake.
You sense that the bookies have a point. There is no accident that they are offering odds on Mourinho to be sacked. History suggests that another bust up is inevitable at some point. But if that occurs before he manages to win the league with United, how will that leave his reputation? It would be a career that started magnificently but steadily declined. Time will tell whether Jose can really be remembered as special, or whether we will look back and see a man who was unable to adapt with the times, and whose methods became antiquated and ineffective.
The next season will be crucial. Will he end up as the next Ferguson or the next Wenger? Time will tell.