Love him or loathe him, José Mourinho’s managerial prowess is unquestioned. A man with 26 major honours as a manager – including two Champions League trophies and eight league titles in four different countries – his CV speaks for itself. He divides opinion perhaps more than any other manager in the modern game.
At the weekend, Mourinho refused to answer a question from the BBC about not shaking Mark Hughes’s hand after the 2-2 draw at the bet365 stadium. It was vintage Mourinho – sensitive, snappy and stubborn. What sets him apart from the rest is his demeanour – unconventional, prickly and very often controversial.
He demands 100% commitment to the cause, and if he perceives that this isn’t the case, he’s ruthless about cutting you asunder. A skill which Sir Alex Ferguson was commonly complimented with, Mourinho shares a similar man-management style – knowing when a player needs love, or tough love. As Frank Lampard said, ‘He knew whether a player needed a leg-up or a rollocking’.
Luke Shaw became a victim of Mourinho’s uncompromising character last season – after suffering a double leg fracture, Shaw’s commitment to Manchester United was publicly questioned to stir a response in the young left-back. It’s an approach which worked for Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid, who later harnessed his manager’s barbed comments about him being a ‘coward’ to improve his own game, ‘I love Mourinho actually. The passion with which he motivated his players from the touchline…he always looks so controlled.’
If the rumour is to be believed, upon finding out that David Moyes would replace Sir Alex Ferguson in the hot seat at Old Trafford, Mourinho apparently wept uncontrollably. In his book, ‘Prepare to Lose: The Mourinho Era’, Diego Torres claims that Mourinho felt humiliated and betrayed by Ferguson’s decision, “Mourinho wouldn’t stop calling them. His ‘interlocutors’ had heard him sob loudly and they were spreading the word. The most feared man in the company was crushed.” Mourinho did finally get his wish, however, now in charge of an extremely balanced and strong-looking Manchester United side.
Below is a collation of key quotes about the Portuguese boss – 10 from the man himself, followed by 10 from his fellow professionals. One thing is quite clear, Mourinho is not beige – people often have strong views about him either way. As Zlatan Ibrahimovic once said of his manager, “Mourinho arouses feelings in people…” It should hopefully help to gain some insight into the brilliant mind of a divisive and complex figure in world football.
THE MAN HIMSELF
On the situation at Stamford Bridge in 2009:
“Why have Chelsea suffered so much since I left? Because I left.”
On criticism of his style of play:
“It’s not important how we play. If you have a Ferrari and I have a small car, to beat you in a race I have to break your wheel or put sugar in your tank”
On the lack of funds available to him as manager of União de Leiria in 2001:
“I went to Brazil to find players with peanuts and bananas. You know, no money. They were very good. But after a year, I lost my peanut players and it was difficult”
“He must really think I’m a great guy. He must think that, because otherwise He would not have given me so much. I have a great family. I work in a place where I’ve always dreamt of working. He has helped me out so much that He must have a very high opinion of me”
In response to a BBC post-match interviewer singling out Michael Ballack for criticism:
“Not at all, I was very happy with Michael’s contribution today. He is a world-class athlete. What is it about pundits in England criticising Ballack? I mean, is it because he is German?”
On Arsenal Wenger:
“I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea”
“Am I afraid of failure? He is a specialist in failure. I’m not. So if one supposes he’s right and I’m afraid of failure, it’s because I don’t fail many times. So maybe he’s right. I’m not used to failing. But the reality is he’s a specialist because, eight years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure.”
Responding to critical comments made by Rafa Benitez’s wife:
“The only club where her husband replaced me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time. And for her also to think about me and to speak about me, I think the lady needs to occupy her time, and if she takes care of her husband’s diet she will have less time to speak about me.”
On Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ against Chelsea in 2005’s Champions League semi-final:
“You can say the linesman’s scored. It was a goal coming from the moon or from the Anfield Road stands”
On his former boss, Louis Van Gaal:
“Only people close to him really know him. He’s a beautiful person. He’s a little bit like me”
On criticism of the Chelsea pitch in 2006:
“Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains. Sometimes you have ugly people who are intelligent, like scientists. Our pitch is a bit like that. From the top it’s a disgrace but the ball rolls at normal speed”
”I like him. He’s the leader of his army. If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains…Mourinho was a guy I was basically ready to die for”
Sir Bobby Charlton:
(Referring to the finger in the eye incident) “A United manager would not do what he did to Tito Vilanova. Mourinho is a really good coach, but that’s as far as I’d go”
“He’s the manager who had more influence on me (than Arsene Wenger). He knew everything about the opposition, the strength, weakness. His detail was unbelievable; everything was so clear about what he wanted from each player. I don’t know what happened at Chelsea but he always got the best out of his players”
Sir Alex Ferguson:
“He goes and manages a small team in Portugal, then goes to Porto and wins the league, wins the Uefa Cup, wins the European Cup, goes to Chelsea and wins the league. Goes to Inter Milan. That is an example to anyone who wants to do well, you shouldn’t let the barriers get in your way if you want to get there.”
“Mourinho is like a second father to me. Mourinho is a powerhouse. He is a very special person for me. As a coach he is incredible, number one. It was he who gave me confidence and I enjoyed playing football like never before. Mourinho is a true friend.”
“He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”
“He formed a spirit among the team that was formidable. We didn’t have a group mentality to win the league but he brought that in. And we have seen the same thing happening for him at Inter Milan and with his Real Madrid team. For me, Jose was the best”
Sir Bobby Robson:
“Jose was a personable young man. Very good looking – I told him not to stand next to me too many times. He was a marvellous asset, covering my back and looking after me while building up a good rapport with the players. Whenever I needed his support he was there, even though it often meant putting himself in the firing line. Here he was, in his early thirties, never been a player or a coach to speak of, giving me reports that were as good as anything I ever got”
“In the press room he is ‘el p*** jefe’ (the f**king boss) and the one who knows more than everyone else. I try to learn from Jose on the pitch, but I prefer to learn as little as possible from him off the pitch…If you think we are similar, I will have to revise my behaviour”
“I have played for so many great coaches, but José Mourinho was a big thinker analytically, he went into everything in great detail. I would put him at the top (above Ferguson), I always say that.”