The End of the Mourinho Era?
Once, he revolutionized football, but now he seems lost
Jose Mourinho's entire career has been a debate about his status, dating back to when he led Porto to the Champions League title in 2004. The same year, during his first press conference at Chelsea, he famously called himself "The Special One." This nickname, later on, became a subject of many references. For instance, during his first press conference at Liverpool, Klopp modestly called himself the "Normal One."
In the Premier League, Mourinho immediately brought about a revolution. While many coaches focused on separating the game into possession and defense, the Portuguese tactician emphasized the transitional phase. Chelsea was the team punishing opponents when they failed to organize their defense. Mourinho's style of play was often dubbed "parking the bus," a term he ironically coined after his first encounter with Tottenham (0-0).
Over time, the debate about Mourinho's status transformed, as if the dialogue was no longer within the public domain. Fans quickly recognized the coach's authority as titles piled up. The debate continued within Mourinho himself.
In his final season at Manchester United, Mourinho signaled three fingers to the fans, reminiscent of Chelsea's three Premier League titles (2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2014/2015) under his management.
Mourinho frequently spoke about his three championships throughout that season, even if it seemed out of context. For instance, after a significant defeat to Tottenham in August 2018: "You know what the result was? 3-0. Do you understand what that means? Three also means three titles in the Premier League. I've won more championships than the other 19 managers combined. Three for me. Two for them. Respect! Respect! Respect, my friend! Respect! Respect!"
Mourinho constructed a world around himself, filled with enemies. Journalists needed reminders about his titles, referees needed reminders about everything, and players periodically had to be removed from the team, from Eva Carneiro to Renato Sanches. Mourinho's behavior is called toxic (which it essentially is), but it's a person's character fueled by that energy. And don't think of him as some emotional vampire; it's just being in a sport where you must prove yourself every day, driving both the team and oneself. He also misses more matches due to suspensions than other Serie A coaches.
In recent years, a question has emerged that people hesitate to vocalize, much like Voldemort's name in Harry Potter: Is Mourinho done? Has he become outdated, not in terms of his biological age, but regarding his ideas and influence on football? In simpler terms, does he remain an elite coach alongside Guardiola, Klopp, and Ancelotti?
The only trophy Mourinho has won in the last six years is the Conference League (Europe's third-tier competition), precisely since he showed three fingers to the fans. Admittedly, crisis-ridden Manchester United, perennially trophy-less Tottenham, and contemporary Roma are not clubs consistently winning titles. Even though Mourinho was sacked a week before the League Cup final and recently missed out on the Europa League only on penalties, it still amounts to one minor trophy in six years. Jose is well aware of this fact, judging by his statements. And he gets fired in Rome when Champions League qualification seems unlikely.
In Rome, fans stopped Mourinho's car to bid him farewell. The coach struggled to hold back tears. And these emotions are not just about parting ways with another club. The answer to the main question he constantly asks himself lies in these tears.
Published by Patrick Jane