Some 12 years ago on a European Night at Old Trafford, Costinha scored a free kick in the extra time and Porto went through to the next round of Champions League at the expense of Manchester United and went on to become the European winners. Most of the Porto team of that night in Manchester have retired there is but one man that remains of it now. The man who with the victory announced his might, the man who has been rewriting the history books with his records since, the man who dashed from the visitor’s box to the corner flag in jubilation, the “Special One” Jose Mourinho. On Friday he is back at Manchester United now as a manager, a dream which he always had a desire to manage the club where a win with his Porto side 12 years ago made him what he is today.
Jose did not have a successful football career, he failed to make it to any top team in Portugal and quit playing at the age of 23.
But if one was to look at his credentials in football it is hard to believe any of it. He left playing football, withdrew from the business school his mother had enrolled him and marked his journey to become a manager. It was not easy but then Jose doesn’t like it easy either, he is a man cut out for adversities.
He started his career as a PTE and then as a translator and then as an Assistant manager under the man he just replaced at Manchester United and finally a full time coach. There have hardly been many managers as successful as him in the world. He has won in every country he has managed and as the latest Adidas rightly puts it “being first is in his blood”.
But with the kind of success that he has achieved in such a short span there are his critics who have become vocal about nearly everything that he does.
They criticize him on his teams’ playing style, his man management, his touch line antics, his press conference and what not.
Everyone has the right to opinion but it should be backed by facts. No doubt Mourinho has a dictatorial kind of style where he demonizes everyone else. It him versus everyone he will not stop at taking jibes on the opposition managers or even on the football body of being biased. But other charges on his playing style and his ability fall flat.
When there were speculations about his move to United there are many football pundits calling out that his style of play is outdated he has not evolved he continues to play a 4-2-3-1 kind of formation over and over.
For those must realize that playing the same style which some may call outdated Jose won two trophies with Chelsea in 2014-15. That’s a year ago and before that 19 trophies which includes UEFA Champions league, Domestic Cups, Leagues. And he has evolved he did not always play 4-2-3-1, in his 2004-5 season with Chelsea he played 4-3-3 and even 4-4-2.
On his defensive style of football and the anti-football rhetoric one should look at his records at various clubs his teams have been goal scoring machines who have scored goals at will be it Madrid, Chelsea, Inter or Porto. And he also does not like to concede and you cannot score five goals in every match there is a need to strategize as per the match, on the form and fitness of the team therefore to call him defensive or anti football is being rigid to development of football. Similarly other criticism on not using young players is completely misguided. For he choose Thibaut Courtois over Cech, Oscar over Mata and what Varane is today is all due to his stint at Madrid, if the player has quality there is no better manager than Mourinho who will bring out the best in him.
His Move to United could not have come at a better time. The club has been on a decline of sorts ever since Sir Alex Fergusson retired.
The three years hence has been nothing but a nightmare. The Quality of football has fallen, trophies have dried and the club is no longer feared. The way big transfers have been handled has further hit the club. What Mourinho brings with him is a package of all fans want. He plays football as per his team, if he gets a bunch of superfast players you can expect a Real Madrid kind of play or if it is a defense strong, he will play behind the ball. He will get under the rival manager skin, he will protect his players from the English media he will go to any extent to ensure a win. He will fight so will his team he will keep the touchline supercharged and will deliver trophies. He will ensure that United is feared, any manager coming to Old Trafford will know that he is coming into a fort. His unbeaten 77 matches streak in Premier League can vouch for it.
You can hate him you can love him but you cannot ignore him and now that he is a Red the devil might just be unleashed.
But his tenure will not be easy but it was never easy. Premier league has had a set of marquee managers this year every team after the new television deal is flush with money so things will not be easy but he too has redemption after being fired last year from Chelsea he has a point to prove and United fans will hope that the three years will be the most productive of this life. Another Champions League anyone?