Why unemployed Jose Mourinho should re-evaluate his priorities

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 12 April 2016, 15:31

Jose MourinhoJose Mourinho's future continues to dominate the headlines, but as time flies it becomes increasingly difficult to predict just where on earth his next seat in the dugout will be...Man Utd? Real Madrid? Syria...? Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) looks at why the former Chelsea boss may have to forget a return to Premier League for the time being, and instead venture off elsewhere else...

Sometimes fate has a funny way of showing you the way forward, pointing you in a certain direction when you're stuck at a crossroads. Four months after being sacked by Chelsea, Jose Mourinho is no closer to finding a club willing to take a gamble on him and all his baggage. His stock has never been lower. Then along comes an offer from the Syrian FA to be their national team boss.

One can only imagine how badly Mourinho is taking this, seeing his name mentioned in the same bracket as a war-torn country, in the same breath as ISIS. It's probably too much for his ego to bear. Mourinho and Syria: that's the sort of devastating word association he'd be proud of when trying to besmirch one of his rivals in a Friday morning press conference.

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So desperate times call for desperate measures. With news breaking out of Holland that Manchester United are set to persist with Louis van Gaal for another year, Mourinho turned up at the Anthony Joshua fight on Saturday, only too willing to settle his one-sided feud with Sky Sports by granting them exclusive access to his thoughts on his future.

In a lengthy interview (see bottom of page), he left his position abundantly clear. He's waiting by the phone, he loves England and he wants to manage in the Premier League again. But where? If the van Gaal story is true, then it leaves Everton as arguably the only team you would describe as a traditional heavyweight who might be tempted to trade in their current incumbent.

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Whether it's down to politics or a simple quality assessment, options are running out fast for the Portuguese. But maybe the Syria job offer was fate's way of intervening, a way of telling Mourinho that while England might be the land of untold riches, he should be looking to re-evaluate his priorities and find another location where his qualities would be more valued.

From a cultural perspective, the key dimension here is power distance. Mourinho is a high power distance manager from a high power distance country - although not quite as high power distance as Syria - which is to say, in these cultures, players tend to listen and carry out instructions to the letter. They're less inclined to question anything or harbour opinions of their own.

However, England is a low power distance country and football, in particular, is a low power distance industry where subordinates have almost equal power to their superiors. The mutiny of the Chelsea dressing room in October and November might have been silent for the most part but it was clear Mourinho had lost the dressing room long before his eventual dismissal.

For Mourinho, this was a whole new experience, a far cry from his first stint at Stamford Bridge. But it's a caveat of low power distance cultures that managers are highly-respected if they are innovative and resourceful. And Mourinho, pre-Pep Guardiola, was certainly ahead of the game, so had the knowledge to keep players under his control by means of stimulation and inspiration.

Moreover, it's also a condition of low power distance cultures that younger managers are appreciated more than older ones. When Mourinho first came to this country, he was a charismatic 41-year-old, and Diego Costa was 15. Now he's 53, and looks it. In short, his ideas have to be pretty spectacular to prolong his shelf-life in a low power distance culture.

However, in high power distance cultures - like France or Portugal - the opposite is true. The older a manager becomes, the more kudos he accumulates. It's usually a mixture of fear and respect because the eldest family member in these countries tends to have the most authority and age invariably equates to wisdom, with experience consistently trumping innovation.

Put simply, if Mourinho wishes to prolong his career at the top and not just become another washed-up managerial nomad, then he needs to get himself out of England, forget the Bundesliga, and stick with moderate to high power distance cultures. For now, neutral territories like Spain or Italy will do. Ultimately, though, the Portuguese national team has to be the gig.

Either that or Syria.

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Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho
(Tottenham Hotspur)
19th April
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