MANCHESTER UNITED star David De Gea reportedly told Jose Mourinho about his complaints last season at a time where Real Madrid were heavily tipped to snap him up.
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Tottenham sack Jose Mourinho, news, update, next club, Spurs, Mourinho win record,
He is undoubtedly one of the finest managers of the modern era, if not all time. But Jose Mourinho’s sacking from Tottenham after just 17 months confirms what has become increasingly apparent in recent years: ‘The Special One’ just isn’t that special anymore.
From his stale tactics to his toxic man-management, Mourinho’s dazzling reputation as an unstoppable winner is further tainted with every job he takes and every sacking he cops.
Wherever he’s landed since bursting onto the stage with Porto, trophies have inevitably followed; at one stage, he was winning trophies at a staggering rate of one every 34 games. No manager has won more than his two Champions Leagues with separate clubs. He is one of just six managers to win league titles in four or more countries, including with Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
His place in the pantheon of managerial greats was firmly established. His self-pronounced title of ‘The Special One’ was almost indisputable.
How things have changed.
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17 months ago, the Portuguese mastermind was handed the reins at Tottenham for the sole purpose of winning trophies. Yesterday he was punted, just six days before a League Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley.
Victory would mean Spurs’ first piece of silverware since the same tournament in 2008. For the first time since before his Porto days almost two decades ago, Mourinho leaves a club trophyless.
The timing of his departure was a shock, even more so considering it came just hours after Spurs were announced as one of the dozen Founding Clubs of the breakaway Super League.
But his departure from North London comes as little surprise – anything but.
Mourinho has overseen a drastic slide in results in recent months.
Just one loss in their first 12 league games – and a crushing 6-1 win over Manchester United – saw Spurs proudly stand atop the Premier League earlier this season. Now the club lies in seventh, five points behind West Ham in the hotly-contested race for Champions League qualification.
Spurs were dumped out of the Europa League in the Round of 16 after coughing up a two-goal lead in what was a chastening reminder of how far – and how quickly – the club had fallen from the lofty heights of their Champions League final appearance in 2018-19.
The priority when Mauricio Pochettino was ousted in favour of Mourinho was clear: win at all costs. But when it comes to Jose, those costs can be great.
Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy said when he announced Mourinho in November 2019: “We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”
That could hardly be farther from the truth. It’s a problem that has always dogged Mourinho, and it’s only getting worse.
TOXIC DRESSING ROOMS
For all his success, Mourinho has a history of bitter dressing-room schisms. His man-management has long brought out the best of some players – and Harry Kane’s current staggering scoring form is proof the Portuguese manager can still do so – but he has left a string of deeply hurt players in his wake.
At Real Madrid he feuded with stars like Pepe and goalkeeper Iker Casillas. At Chelsea it was Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. He once suggested Ricardo Carvalho should visit “a mental hospital.”
But in recent years, that trend has only gotten worse.
At Manchester United, the list of players Mourinho quarrelled with would be enough to field a more-than-decent side. Among the biggest names were Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Romelu Lukaku. Luke Shaw went from one of the best defenders in the league to warming the bench (and since Mourinho left the club, the fullback has enjoyed a career renaissance).
But no feud was uglier – or more important – than his relationship breakdown Paul Pogba, who became the world-record signing under Mourinho.
Pogba recently lifted the lid on Mourinho’s rift with players.
“What I have now with Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd boss) is different, he wouldn’t go against the players,” Pogba told Sky Sports.
“Once I had a great relationship with Mourinho, everybody saw that, and the next day you don’t know what happened.”
Almost like clockwork, the same situation has unfolded at Spurs.
In Mourinho’s very first training session in charge, he asked England star Dele Alli if he was: “Dele Alli or Dele Alli’s brother,” because of his lack of form. Their relationship never healed – the midfielder has started just two league games this season and was close to departing to PSG in the last transfer window.
Fullback Danny Rose was quickly exiled from the first team. When he demanded to know why, it ended in an ugly row in Jose’s office.
Matt Doherty, Serge Aurier, Tanguy Ndombele and Gareth Bale also butted heads with Mourinho.
His tactic of taking digs at players to provoke a response, to push them to prove him wrong, soon merely turned into a tirade of criticism where players were blamed for every setback.
Mourinho continually threw his players under the bus. After their Europa League humbling, he brutally declared: “I feel sorry that my team is the team that didn’t bring to the game, not just the basics of football, (but) I believe the basics of life, which is to respect our jobs and to give everything.”
It was one of many occasions in which the manager blamed his players for every poor result.
Mourinho has always maintained an uncompromising, extremely demanding attitude toward his players, and has ruthlessly discarded those who don’t fit into his plans. In the past, it has been the price of great success.
Now, rather than inspiring players to do better, it simply sounds like a man refusing to accept any blame for his mistakes.
In concert with his difficult relationships with his players has been a growing inability to adapt to the changing tactical nature of the modern game.
From the day Mourinho stunned Europe with Porto’s Champions League success, he attracted a reputation for adaptability and tactical nous.
But the successful style he pioneered at Porto, then perfected at Chelsea, Inter then Madrid came at yet another cost: hatred.
His tactics were founded on defensive solidity, on being reactive rather than proactive. Results mattered above all else – above playing ‘beautiful’ football that fans adore almost regardless of results.
It was very much the antithesis of Pep Guardiola’s possession-based attacking style at Barcelona which has reshaped the modern game.
For supporters of Manchester United and of Tottenham – his two most recent clubs – his negative approach flies in the face of their very identity.
One ‘dressing-room source’ told The Athletic: “He has sucked the culture out of the club and destroyed what Spurs have stood for for years.”
His well-worn approach of claiming a narrow lead then sitting deep has failed miserably this season.
According to multiple reports, he spent his training sessions focusing almost exclusively on how to defend rivals, on how to exploit every opponent’s unique tactical problems.
Just as at United, he failed to forge an attacking identity. His reliance on individual brilliance – which Harry Kane and his lightning combination with Son Heung-min offer in spades – could only go so far.
Re-watch Spurs’ dismal defeat in the Europa League and one thing becomes patently obvious: players had no clue how to go forward, or even if they should.
His predecessor Pochettino revelled in innovative attacking moves. And yet, Mourinho clearly couldn’t care less about coaching his players how to do that.
For a club with a plethora of attacking riches his inability to forge an offensive style and get the best out of that star-studded unit will go down as a huge disappointment.
Without Kane’s single-handed determination to drag his beloved club past any obstacle, Spurs were largely toothless. As it stands, Kane’s 21 goals and 13 assists in 30 league games contributes a full 34 of Spurs’ 54 league goals this season.
And yet, for all Mourinho’s defensive focus, one damning statistic tells the story of the season: only Brighton has dropped as many points from winning positions this season (20) as Spurs.
Mourinho’s trademark pragmatic approach – one he staunchly refused to change – helped take a tired Tottenham team from 14th in the Premier League when he took over to a creditable sixth at the conclusion of his first campaign.
But his refusal to adapt almost inevitably saw Spurs’ results and players’ confidence collapse. Perhaps he was lucky no fans were in the stands to witness it.
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Having managed Spurs, it’s now unlikely their rivals Arsenal would take a shot on hiring Mourinho. Same with Manchester City or Liverpool, given he managed United (not that either are in the market). Other Premier League clubs might be keener – but would Mourinho really take on a mid-tier club?
After all, every one of the clubs he has managed since leaving Porto have now been announced as founding members of the new Super League. Mid-table isn’t quite Jose’s style.
Italian football is far kinder to defensive masterminds like Mourinho. And even if he has been sacked five times now – with a handy payout each time – his CV still boasts a long, long list of trophies.
Asked if he would return to football as soon as possible, Mourinho laughed, and replied: “I’m always in football.”
His legacy will always remain. But it is up to Mourinho to decide if he will adapt and once again become a winner.
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