No way José: the special one gets the sack

Roller coaster: Mourinho has managed 909 games for seven clubs, winning 589 and losing 134.

Is Mourinho finished? Dropped points, player feuds and public outbursts: José Mourinho’s rocky reign at Manchester United has come to an end. Some say his best days are very much behind him.

“Please don’t call me arrogant because what I am saying is true […] I think I am a special one.” It was with these immortal words that José Mourinho triumphantly announced his arrival in English football 14 years ago.

But those days are over. After leading Manchester United to their worst start to a season since 1990, Mourinho is out.

“The club would like to thank José for his work during his time at Manchester United,” read a short statement on the club’s website yesterday as his sacking was confirmed.

Several reasons for his demise have been suggested: a lack of attacking football; unwise decisions in the transfer market; and rifts between him and certain star players.

Fundamentally though, he did not win enough games. With just 26 points from 17 matches, he leaves United closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table.

It was not supposed to end this way. Mourinho was bullish when he first got the job in 2016. “It is a job everyone wants, and not many have a chance to have, and I have it,” he declared.

As he would often remind reporters, he had the record to back up his supreme self-confidence.

He burst onto the international scene in 2004 when he won the Champions League with Portuguese outsiders Porto. The following year he moved to Chelsea, winning the Premier League with a record 95 points.

More trophies followed at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and a second spell at Chelsea. He is one of only five coaches to win the European Cup with two different teams and has won league titles in every country he has coached.

However, Mourinho’s spiky personality ensured he was always loved and loathed in equal measure.

And as results started to go against him this season, his outbursts became more frequent: “3-0, 3-0. Do you know what this means?” he asked after losing 3-0 to Tottenham, “it also means three Premierships and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together.”

“I am one of the greatest managers in the world,” he declared a few days later.

Perhaps that was true once, but has Mourinho’s time now passed?

Game over

Yes, some say. Mourinho’s arrogance was always going to lead to his downfall. His aggressive style of management causes rifts with players, he loses without grace, and when the going gets tough, he cannot accept responsibility. Mourinho may have been “special” once, but those days are long gone.

Not so fast, others respond. All the greats go through bad patches. And Mourinho certainly has nothing to prove: his visionary tactical skills and extreme competitive edge have changed the modern game forever. We should we feel grateful to have witnessed his teams at their best, and there is nothing to stop him bouncing back.

You Decide

  1. Should he have been sacked?
  2. Is it fair to call Mourinho arrogant?

Activities

  1. Would you describe Mourinho as a hero or a villain? Are there any other famous people you can think of that also divide opinion in this way? Why are they divisive? Is it possible, or even desirable, to be liked by everyone?
  2. “Successful people will always have their downfall.” Is this true? Write a one-page answer in response.

Some People Say...

“Fear is not a word in my football dictionary.”

José Mourinho

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Despite his poor start to the season, Mourinho’s record at Manchester United does not compare too unfavourably to his predecessors. His win rate of 56.78% is higher than that of Louis van Gaal and David Moyes. However, Sir Alex Ferguson’s is higher at 59.67%. Mourinho also won two major trophies at the club: the EFL Cup and Europa League.
What do we not know?
We do not know who Mourinho’s successor will be. Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær is the favourite to take over, at least until the end of the season. However, another manager is likely to replace him on a long-term basis. Candidates include Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone.

Word Watch

Arrogant
Having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance, skills or abilities.
Transfer market
In his time at the club, he spent £400 million on 11 players.
Star players
Mourinho publicly criticised several of his players, including Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial. However, the most damaging falling out was between him and record signing Paul Pogba. Mourinho stripped him of the vice-captaincy and started him on the bench for important games.
Porto
In international tournaments, Porto is the most successful Portuguese team, winning a total of seven major trophies.
Loathed
When something or someone is intensely disliked.
19 managers
The only other managers currently working in the Premier League to have won a title are Pep Guardiola and Claudio Ranieri, with Manchester City and Leicester City respectively.

Subjects