The (not-so) inevitable fall of Jose Mourinho

fall of Jose Mourinho

The fall of Jose Mourinho is the concluding act seen in his performances at a number of clubs.

This season, AS Roma’s 32 points through 21 games represents its worst league start in over 40 years. Most recently, Roma threw away a two-goal lead, suffering a crushing loss to Juventus, 4-3.

The loss displayed the antiquity of manager Jose Mourinho’s style of sitting on leads. His of pragmatic management style fails to fit the game now like it did 10 to 15 years ago.

In the last 15 years, the sport fundamentally changed. Therefore, Mourinho’s stylistic preferences are less in vogue today than in the past. The same applies to his emphasis on one-off tactical setups suited to negate the opposition. The most successful sides in elite club football have a set style of play and consistent playing principles. These persist irrespective of the opposition at hand.

Mourinho burst on to the scene as one of the great managers at Porto, thriving at Chelsea then Inter Milan. He drew praise for his incredible motivational skills, tactical nous and ability to play the media. Essentially, he created favorable storylines for himself.

Of late, AS Roma fans criticize Mourinho’s man management skills. This is not the only thing holding back I Giallorossi. Mourinho’s failure to properly adjust his tactical game to modern football is also at issue. His relationship with the media also depleted in recent years.

Here is the fall of Jose Mourinho broken down piece by piece.

The Fall of Jose Mourinho

Man Management

Questions arose regarding Mourinho’s man-management at Real Madrid. However, it did not blow up until the fall of 2015. That year, Mourinho struggled at the helm of defending Premier League champions Chelsea. The season opened with a 1-1 draw against Swansea City. After the game, Mourinho openly criticized the club physio. He later lost the backing of the dressing room. In the end, he lost support from the board, and they sacked the “Special One” before Christmas that season.

Arriving at Manchester United months later, Mourinho’s tenure provided a mixed bag. On one hand, some performances showed brilliance. Deploying Ashley Young at wingback helped knock off eventual EPL champions Chelsea in 2017. Ironically, Young impressed Chelsea manager Antonio Conte so much that he sought out the defender to be part of Conte’s Scudetto-winning Inter Milan side in 2020/21. Also, the 2018 comeback at The Etihad prevented Manchester City from lifting the Premier League trophy that afternoon.

But, more often than not, Mourinho’s Manchester United failed to develop flowing chemistry. Mourinho’s management of stars like Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku drew ire from those in and around the club. That being said, he pulled the best out of Jesse Lingard and allowed Marcus Rashford to develop into a true scoring threat as a teenager.

Still, the general consensus remained; Mourinho was having trouble with the modern superstar.

At Tottenham, Amazon’s All or Nothing documentary put Mourinho’s management style on full display. Mourinho often compared his squad to the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool, calling his players “soft” and “too nice”. Even in the sanitized form of a club-sanctioned documentary you, could clearly see a disconnect between Mourinho’s management style and the players.

Currently at AS Roma, Mourinho makes similar complaints about his players despite a monster budget. This indicates a manager whose ideal vision of a footballer doesn’t match that of what we commonly see in this era.

Playing the Media

Mourinho has had a penchant for playing the media to his own tune going back to his days at Porto. But, in recent years, that ability dissipated. Bad will ensued in England when in 2014. That year, Mourinho dubbed Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger “a specialist in failure.”

From that point forward, Mourinho faced a more critical British press.

The view of Mourinho on the continent was never quite like it was in Britain. By the time he arrived at Real Madrid, many top writers openly questioned the Portuguese. This trend intensified after a Mourinho rant implying a conspiracy that favored Barcelona in the spring of 2011.

Currently in Italy, the press shows a healthy skepticism toward Mourinho’s AS Roma side.

Tactics

As mentioned above, in on-off clashes like those referenced with Chelsea and Manchester City, Mourinho’s scouting and tactical nous can impact individual big matches in ways most managers’ tactics cannot. However, one trend in particular arose over the last five years or so. The most dominant European clubs dominate via a clear and consistent style of play and setup. Mourinho, generally speaking, prefers to mix things up. Although, particularly during the 2005-06 season at Chelsea, his sides did not deviate from certain playing principles within a 4-3-3 setup.

In general, Mourinho is a pragmatist. He sets up a team based on opposition and the players available to him. Historically, this makes for a strong management philosophy. Yet, few sports changed in terms play and management like top-level European competition in the last 15 years.

Critics long derided Mourinho’s tactics within a match as reactive and regressive. Again, that once worked. Sitting on 1-0 or 2-1 leads in the era before constant high-pressing and playing-out-of-the-back seemed like a reliable tactic.

The most recent Mourinho sides combined playing principles. Roma incorporate pressing and slow build-up play with traditional counter-attacking and defensive shape. Oftentimes, it just doesn’t work well. A mixture of tactical ideas and a random set of players don’t adjust well to such a setup.

Mourinho’s legacy

It seems very simplistic to say the game is passing Mourinho by. Similarly, it would be flawed analysis to not make that claim in some fashion. The bottom line is that the Special One is no longer seen as an elite manager by many. His current problems at AS Roma further the view that his best days of coaching are behind him.

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