Ever since Jose Mourinho sprinted along the Old Trafford turf with his arms pumping in joyous celebration following Porto’s triumph over Manchester United in the Champions League some thirteen years ago, the Portuguese has always had a certain spark about him.
Announcing himself in his first ever press conference in the Premier League as the “Special One” sent alarms bells ringing through the league that this manager was either a tactical genius with an abundance of confidence or simply an arrogant egotist who wouldn’t last until January.
Throughout his managerial career, he has proven he is a winner. Countless league titles as well as domestic silverware, together with the odd European trophy thrown into the mix means he can boast an impressive CV.
From humble beginnings starting out as Sir Bobby Robson’s interpreter at Barcelona, to sitting on the very highest echelons of club football, Mourinho is someone that most if not all teams at some point would have bitten your arm off to have as their manager.
However, over the last few years, it seems that he has struggled to recreate a consistent winning formula and appears to lack the cocky charisma that came with his hunger for success. In his second tenure at Chelsea, he won the league title after failing to do so in his first season back. After parting company with the blues the season after he returned as Manchester United manager the following season replacing Luis Van Gaal.
This season has seen a completely different Mourinho to one that anyone lay witness to before. After stating at the start of the campaign that he would take no joy in winning the Europa League, he has recently (rather hypocritically to say the least) gone back on his words stating that it would be a fantastic opportunity for the club to win a trophy, silence the doubters, and clinch the seemingly ever elusive top-four place in the league.
It has made him somewhat of a laughing stock in the mass media. The press are having a quiet snigger to themselves while no doubt already dreaming up headlines for if they infant lose the final to Ajax, and social media platforms are abuzz with comparison quotes and put downs reaction in quite possibly a sense of disbelief at this once iconic, confident and witty football manager.
The fact that in a recent post match interview the former Real Madrid boss openly admitted the league means almost nothing to them now and that all their attention has been turned to final next week shows that he has lost what some might call a vital ingredient in his successful career; a win at all costs mentality.
It also must sting United fans that their own manager doesn’t really give a damn about their domestic season and are now just going through the motions. For die-hard fans still reminiscing about the Ferguson era (and possibly still grieving for it), it must surely leave a very uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomachs that the United of old, who would stop at nothing to hunt down every success they could, is just waving the white flag in a league where they were once feared by nearly everyone in the country.
In a way, it’s sad to see Mourinho in this state. A once great coach who wanted to beat the world at their own game reduced to wanting to win a trophy purely down to the reward of Champions League qualification and not winning the silverware purely on its own merit. Mourinho is seemingly becoming desperate to make his mark on a job he always respected, but maybe feels deep down he’s not up to.
It will be interesting to see what transpires if the Red Devil’s don’t manage to clinch success in the final. They come up against a very impressive Ajax side looking for their first European trophy since ’95 and should provide a stern test dispute their youthful squad. Will Mourinho throws his toys out of the pram and resign, or will decide that mediocrity is no longer acceptable and launch a major attempt for the league title next season.
United fans will hope to see a more winning formula in the next campaign as their unbeaten record during this season can possibly be one of the most dreary affairs in football to date, despite how much it could be respected.
One thing is for sure though, it would nice to see a more upbeat Mourinho in future interviews as right now he’s about as cheerful as a morgue.