Following a trophy-less 2013-14 campaign, the Chelsea manager has to prove it all over again next season.
A virtually unblemished record of success in every country he has worked in. Seven league championships, two Champions League crowns and 10 domestic cups. A man with a personality so compelling it would arguably bring the late great Brian Clough to his knees. All of these characteristics describe Jose Mourinho. Yet after a first, trophy-less season back in England, the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ is now attracting negative comments.
Public fallouts with players can, in many ways, be harmless if results are favourable and a squad is suitably equipped. However, the alienation of two of Chelsea’s biggest midfield talents in Juan Mata and Eden Hazard left the team threadbare of creative impetus when it was desperately needed.
As a result, Mata was shipped off to Manchester United and Hazard seemed bereft of confidence. Equally, his leaked comments about the age and reliability of some Chelsea players must have left fans unnerved.
To question the tactical nous of a man with Mourinho’s record may seem ludicrous, but many argue that Chelsea have become associated with an unaccustomed negativity. The Chelsea in Mourinho’s first spell would have decimated opponents with ruthless efficiency and would then sit back to conserve energy.
Yet, this season’s performances have indicated a desire to sit back and pinch a goal late in the game. Does such a style bring success? The abundance of goals scored by Manchester City in their Premier League title success would indicate not.
As with all of the great managers, controversial comments are inevitable, although remarks made towards his fellow managers and officials show a man who can perhaps no longer rely on football to do his talking.
Referring to Arsene Wenger as a ‘specialist in failure’ was disrespectful at best and so was publicly ‘congratulating’ Mike Reilly following a heated exchange. Such episodes can poison those around you and the antics of Mourinho’s assistant in the defeat at Sunderland indicate that this may already be in motion.
Is the Portuguese still the ‘Special One’? Perhaps in a year’s time we will know. Even a man with Mourinho’s record and charm still has much to prove.