SPORTS

Fotubol with Tai Emeka Obasi.

At 58, has Mourinho truly learnt?

Jose Mourinho is a name known as well as the most popular footballer that ever played the beautiful game. Though a very successful tactician by all standards, the man, known as the Special One to his numerous admirers, has more controversies in his locker than trophies.
Personally, I liken him to Muhammed Ali of boxing. Same boasts, same talking down on opponents and, respecting reality, same effectiveness in the arena they adored.
But the difference is that while Ali stepped into the rings to actualise his boasts, Mourinho depended on a set of 11 players or thereabouts to always transform his very defensive-minded pattern into reality. In some cases, Ali paid dearly for either talking too much or dancing too much. Mourinho equally has, in numerous occasions.
Mourinho romped into the football scene like a Colossus. He had started his tutelage under the equally great Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal at Barcelona before going home to start his full managerial career at Portugal’s Benfica in the year 2000. He moved to Unaio de Lieria a year later and, equally a year later, found his way to FC Porto all in his native Portugal.
It was at Porto that he romped to stardom, winning the Portuguese League twice, the UEFA Cup once and the ultimate UEFA Champions League, all in the space of two years.
It so happened in the year 2004 that the big teams of Europe were falling by the way side, tearing gamblers tickets all the way till the very final that saw Porto and France’s Monaco in the final.
Mourinho’s Porto claimed the trophy with a clinical dispatch of their less illustrious opponents, 3 – 0.
Chelsea new owner, Roman Abromovich was looking for a super coach and he just sighted one. With Mourinho young, tactically astute and very ambitious, the Russian oil tycoon wasn’t going to look for another.
Mourinho landed in England and the football world would never be the same again. From calling himself the Special One to voicing his numerous mind games, the Portuguese divided followers of the beautiful game down the middle.
On the pitch, football had probably not witnessed a tactician as astute and detailed to the minutest degree on defensive discipline.
Out of football pitches, the sporting world had probably not witnessed such a loquacious and extremely disrespectful character in recent history. Among many words not found in his dictionary, humility takes supreme.
But he delivered trophies. League, FA and League Cups adorned the Chelsea trophy cabinet in quick succession but never the ultimate UEFA Champions League. After three years, he left England on mutual consent, having made more enemies than friends.
FILE – A Saturday, May 7, 2005 photo from files showing Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho celebrating the FA Premiership trophy with Frank Lampard, left, and John Terry, after winning the English Premiership League at Stamford Bridge in London. Jose Mourinho is officially returning to Chelsea as the London club’s new manager, six years after his acrimonious departure. Chelsea confirmed Monday, June 3, 2013 that the 50-year-old Mourinho was hired on a four-year contract after completing a three-year stint at Real Madrid, where his final season ended without a trophy. Madrid released the Portuguese coach from his contract a year early, so Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will not have to pay compensation to be re-united with the manager he fell out with in 2007. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
When he landed at Inter Milan, Mourinho went quiet, probably understood that God has a hand in all successes and openly embraced humility for the very first time.
And he assiduously worked himself to another stardom when he won the treble, including the UEFA Champions League.
That took him to Real Madrid in Spain. At Spain, Mourinho had a new challenge – a more difficult challenge he ever face in his career – Barcelona. Barca were the best team in the world at the time Mourinho landed in Spain. Even though he had beaten same team few months earlier in semi-final of the UCL with Inter, the Portuguese, humble or not, knew playing in same League was another ball game.
It didn’t take long before an El Clasico came on the cards. He had Cristiano Ronaldo,  Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, et al. But Pep Guardiola had Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Those trio were enough to hand Jose his biggest defeat in history : 5 – 0!
From that moment, Mourinho sparked off a ‘civil war’ in Spain. He forgot everything about decorum and did everything to destroy Barca both on and off the pitch.
He managed to beat Guardiola to the League title once and a Copa Del Rei but watching his now biggest rival grab a rare Spanish treble, including the UEFA Champions League, was too much for Mourinho to stomach. From excessive controversial taunts to poking hand into the eyes of Barca coaches, Mourinho created so much acrimony that tore the Spanish National Team down the middle.
The Madrid board didn’t wait for mutual consent. Mourinho could be tolerated as long as he won desirable trophies. But with Guardiola and Barca still pinning Mourinho and Real to second bests, the capital-based club decided enough was enough after three years.
By this time Chelsea had lost their spine and Abromovich decided to reunite with the Special One. He wasn’t as loquacious in his second coming to England but he wasn’t entirely quiet either. He won the League title once again but his nature attracted another sack before end of three years.
Manchester United was his next port of call and despite winning UEFA Cup, the Red Devils’ rebuilding didn’t fare as smoothly and as fast as the Glazer Family wanted and they parted ways.
Mourinho left football and was on the market for over 12 months without any club willing to touch him with even a sterilised barge pole. Again, this should have humbled Mourinho and it did. His punditry was done with more maturity and respect that watchers felt age had matured the extremely controversial Portuguese.
Joe Lewis and his Tottenham Hotspurs probably thought same and hired him to rescue a team going downhill before the arms of Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine who had overachieved with same team about six months earlier.
Mourinho landed without causing any controversy, picked his job and quietly went to work. He has tried to steer clear of controversy but there are still very clear signs that Mourinho is only waiting for the right moment to go lose once again.
Just two days ago, he said he doesn’t look down but up, in a very derogatory manner to express that Tottenham are ahead of Arsenal on the League table.
It is clear that the Portuguese hasn’t learnt at all. At 58, he should have known by now that he won the highest honour in football while coaching two modest teams that people didn’t expect to win the UCL. But while he had all the money to buy any player he wanted in Chelsea(twice), Real Madrid and Manchester United, he never could play in the final. If he realises God favours he would really understand that he is right now in a third club that would define his ultimate ability should he defy the odds for a third time.
Humility is forever the key.
Tai Emeka Obasi is a civil engineer, football and political analyst, a social critic, an author and scriptwriter with so many titles to his name.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button