Chelsea: Is Mourinho the ‘greatest one’?

Image available under Creative Commons (c) Новикова Юлия

Image available under Creative Commons (c) Новикова Юлия

Jose Mourinho’s return to the Premier League and his former club Chelsea is on the verge of being confirmed. Blues fans and the media are unsurprisingly thrilled at the prospect of the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ returning to these shores to ply his trade. But just how special is Mourinho, and with Sir Alex Ferguson retired, can the double champion of Europe now be considered to be the greatest coach in the world?

At first glance, his credentials appear strong. Whether at Porto, Chelsea, Internazionale or Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho has experienced extraordinary success, often against some of the stiffest managerial competition in the world, be it Ferguson, Wenger, Guardiola, or Ancelloti.

But to gain a greater understanding of just how successful, let’s look at the key factor that underpins all success in football management – an ability to win games.

Since taking the reins at Porto in January 2002, Mourinho has won 430 of the 635 matches he has been a manager in, giving him a win percentage of 68%. At Real Madrid, he won 72% of games managed – the highest number of any Real Madrid manager in the club’s history.

Mourinho’s career record

mourinho recordHow does this compare to other top class coaches of the modern era? Over a similar period, the man who has just brought the Champions League to Munich, Jupp Heynckes, won just over 60% of games he oversaw. His replacement at Bayern, and Mourinho’s rival at Real, Pep Guardiola, also won 72% of his games in charge at Camp Nou – the same ratio as the Portuguese.

Over a far longer period at the helm of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson led his team to victory in around 60% of games. And in each of his two seasons as Real Madrid coach, Fabio Capello won 65% and 56% of his games respectively.

So the ‘Special One’ emerges from this comparison at the top. And based on these numbers, he has amassed an incredible sixteen major trophies in his relatively short career to date. Indeed, since 2002, Mourinho has not gone a full calendar year without winning silverware for his respective clubs.

He has won two domestic titles apiece while at Porto, Chelsea and Internazionale, and a single La Liga title in Madrid. Across this period he also added six domestic cup trophies, a UEFA Cup, and two Champions League titles.

UEFA named him manager of the year in 2002 and 2003, while FIFA named him World Coach of the Year in 2010. He was also awarded domestic Manager of the Year awards in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010.

And yet, there are still many who hold reservations about the true greatness of Jose Mourinho. Their main objection is that this is a man who will do anything to win, who frequently pushes the rules of the game to breaking point.

But a more serious detraction from Mourinho’s record to date is that he has ultimately yet to build a lasting dynasty, capable of success over the long term, to rival that of Sir Alex Ferguson, or even Pep Guardiola.

In many respects, Mourinho can be seen as a coach for clubs looking to achieve success here and now, and happy to run the risk that he will leave behind an almighty mess to clear up.

The challenge being that not only does he not build for the future; his methods actually put it at risk. Critics point to Inter’s drastically declining fortunes since he left – sixth in 2012, and a disastrous ninth in 2013.

It is undeniable that his attitude towards his own players, club officials and the media creates division, and a siege mentality, which he seems to thrive on. Just look at the recent turmoil experienced at Real Madrid. Key players, such as club captain Iker Casillas, have been sidelined, and while the team have remained relatively successful on the pitch, Mourinho has publicly fallen out with many others, essentially making his own position untenable.

It is telling that despite his success at the Bernebeu, his reception in his final game versus Osasuna this weekend was, at best, mixed. Many fans held signs reading “Good riddance Jose”.

In this context, the prospect of him return to Chelsea is particularly fascinating. With a playing squad in the midst of transition already, and many of Mourinho’s old guard gradually being put out to pasture, the challenge will be to re-build Chelsea for the long term, while adding a further Champions League to his and Chelsea’s cabinet.

If he succeeds in this task, then he really will have a good claim to be declared ‘the greatest of them all’.

More from this author: England: Why Hodgson is stuck with the devils we knowWho is to blame for QPR’s relegation?

Comments

  1. Konsal says:

    “Over a far longer period at the helm of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson led his team to victory in around 60% of games.” So he won 59% then. Could you be anymore biased?

    Fergie can NEVER be considered a proper world class manager because of his abysmal European record. A great domestic manager but a rather poor European manager.

  2. Hi Konsal – cheers for commenting. Yep, Ferguson’s record is 59.67%, which when rounded up accounts for the 60% figure.

    I think it’s fair to examine Fergie’s European record when at Old Trafford, but would reject the criticism that I am in anyway displaying bias towards Ferguson in the article.

    I’d also ask in response whether a manager who across his time in charge at Aberdeen and Manchester United won two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, the Intercontinental Cup, the World Club Cup and two Champions’ Leagues (plus two runner up spots) could be considered *only* a great domestic manager?

Trackbacks

  1. […] and Swansea have all made shrewd signings and Manchester City have recruited strongly. But for me Chelsea bringing Jose Mourinho back has to trump the lot. He’s a winner and his appointment is definitely a […]

  2. […] In his first press conference back, Mr Mourinho declared he was now ‘The Happy One’. He also stated he had more knowledge and experience that at any previous stage of his managerial career, which, given the structure of time, does make sense. Whether a Chelsea fan or not, Jose’s return is something to be excited about, and will add some ‘bite’ to the League after Sir Alex’s retirement. He’s a winner, but will brush away any speculation his side are title favourites. Let the medi… […]

  3. […] In his first press conference back, Mr Mourinho declared he was now ‘The Happy One’. He also stated he had more knowledge and experience that at any previous stage of his managerial career, which, given the structure of time, does make sense. Whether a Chelsea fan or not, Jose’s return is something to be excited about, and will add some ‘bite’ to the League after Sir Alex’s retirement. He’s a winner, but will brush away any speculation his side are title favourites. Let the medi… […]

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