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