The fall from grace of the once self-styled ‘Spe­cial One’

CityPress - - Sport - DAVID MINCHELLA [email protected]­press.co.za

It seems the de­cline of José Mour­inho has been years in the mak­ing given the marked drop in his win­ning per­cent­age from his days at Real Madrid.

Dur­ing that suc­cess­ful era at Los Blan­cos where he cut down to size Pep Guardi­ola’s Barcelona in their pomp – which was partly fu­elled by the ex­traor­di­nary scor­ing ex­ploits of Cris­tiano Ron­aldo – his win rate was 71.91%.

In his se­cond spell at Chelsea from 2013 to 2015 it had fallen to 58.82% and then it dropped again at Manch­ester United to 58.33%.

Fol­low­ing United’s worst start to a Pre­mier League sea­son, he was sacked by the Red Devils de­spite spend­ing nearly £400 mil­lion (more than R7 bil­lion) on just 11 play­ers in two and a half years.

Ar­guably, Mour­inho’s fall from grace has come about due to an un­will­ing­ness to ad­just to the chang­ing world of mod­ern foot­ball which in re­cent years has in­volved the im­por­tance of press­ing.

Guardi­ola’s press at Man City is high and ex­haus­tive, and there­after they de­fend with pos­ses­sion. Jür­gen Klopp’s gegen­press­ing with Liver­pool has put the Reds at the top of the ta­ble as gen­uine con­tenders for the ti­tle.

Mau­r­izio Sarri made his name with Napoli with ag­gres­sive high press­ing and con­tin­ues to im­ple­ment this ide­ol­ogy with Chelsea. Even Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur un­der Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino press up the pitch with a high back-line and at­tempt to stran­gle the op­po­si­tion in their own half.

Yet, the Por­tuguese coach has shown lit­tle sign of ad­just­ing to the trend. At Real, he fa­mously used his “triv­ote” – a block of three hold­ing mid­field­ers to sit deeper and pro­tect the de­fence.

It worked with such a tal­ented play­maker as Xabi Alonso, who was able to keep pos­ses­sion, while fur­ther for­ward Ron­aldo ran riot.

Yet, with­out a pos­ses­sion game and not pos­sess­ing a player any­where close to be­ing in the Alonso mould, United’s highly deep de­fen­sive style un­der the Por­tuguese ren­dered the side a punch­ing bag.

The point is high­lighted that in his fi­nal de­feat to Liver­pool, the team al­lowed a club record 36 shots. In ad­di­tion, the re­la­tion­ship break­down with Paul Pogba is fur­ther ev­i­dence per­haps of a man los­ing his magic touch in terms of man-man­age­ment.

In his first stint at Chelsea there would often be sto­ries of how play­ers were will­ing to run through walls for him, but to­day this stands in stark con­trast to his re­la­tion­ship with the tem­per­a­men­tal French­man.

So, where to from here for a 55year-old whose ideas were once con­sid­ered rev­o­lu­tion­ary and at the fore­front of foot­ball?

It seems clear clubs such as Paris Saint-Ger­main or Bay­ern Mu­nich won’t touch him as the foot­ball busi­ness these days is so pred­i­cated on the brand of foot­ball be­ing a key sell­ing point to a global au­di­ence.

To high­light this, the value of United on the stock mar­ket has fallen by $1.2 bil­lion since July.

Fur­ther abroad, Ju­ven­tus could con­sider him though there is bit­ter­ness from the time he an­tag­o­nised them while at

In­ter Mi­lan.

Sides in the EPL aren’t likely to bite, es­pe­cially among the lead­ing pack, with his salary de­mands be­ing so sub­stan­tial from the rest.

There­fore a re­turn to Real seems likely with San­ti­ago So­lari do­ing lit­tle to im­press. “Mou” en­joys a good re­la­tion­ship with pres­i­dent Florentino Pérez and the club ap­pears to need a re­build­ing phase.

It’s also plau­si­ble to sug­gest he may end his coach­ing days ex­iled in China or the Mid­dle East – earn­ing a for­tune for a team with no global ap­peal.

And, what a fall from grace that would be for the so-called Spe­cial One.

PHOTO: JOHN PETERS / MAN UTD VIA GETTY IM­AGES

NOT SPE­CIAL ANY­MORE The fu­ture looks bleak for José Mour­inho af­ter be­ing sacked by Manch­ester United

PHOTO: JOHN PETERS / MAN UTD VIA GETTY IM­AGES

THE END? Could this be the end for Mour­inho, the ‘Spe­cial One’?

PHOTO: MAR­TIN RICKERT / PA IM­AGES

REIN­VEN­TION? The ques­tion is can Mour­inho rein­vent him­self?

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