In his latest article for the Fancast, Dean Mears defends Jose Mourinho.
It’s been nearly 15 years since Jose Mourinho first graced English football. At the time, Mourinho revolutionised English football, going away from the 4-4-2 employed by United and Arsenal. Instead, switching to 4-3-3, using wingers like Arjen Robben and Damien Duff, supported by runners from midfield like Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. Who in turn were backed by the formidable Claude Makelele.
The results were instant, beating United 1-0 in his opening game and going on to win the Premier League at a canter. In the first two Premier League seasons of Mourinho, Chelsea’s record stood at won 58, drawn 12, lost 6, scored 144, conceded 37. Those two sides broke all the records set before them, which all stood until very recently broken by Antonio Conte’s Chelsea and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Mourinho‘s arrival in English football coincided with the second boom in television money. Sky Sports had already changed the face of football ten years previously, but the change in what happened after Mourinho’s arrival was like a sonic boom.
“Please do not call me arrogant, because what I say is true. I am European Champion. I think I am a special one.”
Even without his side kicking a football, Mourinho was the biggest name in English football. With just two sentences, Mourinho had eclipsed all that had been achieved by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
Nobody else got a look in; it was all Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea! Mourinho won at any cost, defend well, do not concede, hit on the counter with the pace of the wingers. Mourinho did play attacking football, especially against lesser teams at home. But in the big games, Mourinho sat back, soaked up the pressure and hit on the break.
And not that we minded, we were winning trophies like none of us, especially the old-timers like Chidge and JK 😉 If you want a moment that sums up Mourinho’s approach to football, it’s best found in the Chelsea documentary film ‘blue revolution’.
(Yes that’s right City fans, we did this shit 13 years before you knew who City were)
During a pre-match team meeting ahead of Mourinho’s first final in the league cup, Mourinho sat his players down and told them a straightforward message.
“I do not want to tell you that you have to win this game, because I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on you. But you must not lose.”
When it really mattered, style was secondary. And that’s what we’ve grown up on.
The times, however, have changed. Since Pep introduced “Tika-Taka” to the world at Barcelona, the demand for attacking possession-based football has grown. And this season shows how that demand has come to an apparent climax. We have Sarri, City Guardiola, Liverpool Klopp, Arsenal Emery and Tottenham Pochettino. All coaches who demand possession-based attacking football.
And then there is Mourinho at United. Every press conference is seeming lonelier and more disconnected from the game that he once ruled.
Fans are no longer contempt with pragmatic football. They demand attacking, exciting football regardless of the result. And after the game against Tottenham, you can see why Mourinho isn’t in favour of it.
The first 45 minutes was the type of play that the fans are calling for. At full time they were beaten 3-0. Mourinho’s biggest defeat in a home league game.
Winning isn’t enough anymore. And the situation he finds himself is partly Ed Woodward’s fault. After the dismal few years of Moyes and Van Gaal, they needed success and Mourinho brought that with a League Cup and Europa League trophy.
But his style has cast him into the wilderness. If according to rumours, players no longer want to sign for his teams then he’s finished at the top level of the game. Players, more than ever, are buying into philosophies, styles, ideals. Rather than where they can be successful.
Money, of course, will see some players sign, but as you see with Sanchez and Pogba, it doesn’t bring happiness. And it’s terribly sad, as much I want to hate Mourinho for joining United and throwing a couple of digs at us, I can’t help but feel sorry for him.
A man, who used to rule the world, sat alone in a Manchester hotel wondering where he took the wrong turn. It’s clear that his third season syndrome is happening again, and the atmosphere at Old Trafford is toxic.
And as much as I want that to continue, I think a man who has done so much for English football and for Chelsea, deserves our everlasting respect. Recently, we’ve had Robbie Di Matteo and Claudio Ranieri at the training ground. While Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti have also visited regularly during the past few years. I really hope one day that Jose will join them.
Maybe a national team role is what he needs, away from day to day management, refresh himself, and get back to the charismatic, passionate and successful manager he always has been.
Jose will always be one of us.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!
Written by Dean Mears – @DeanMears