The Forgotten One: Where next for Jose Mourinho?

Matthew Crist by Matthew Crist / 06 February 2019, 13:29

It’s been barely two months since he was unceremoniously sacked by Manchester United but already Jose Mourinho has become something of a forgotten man at Old Trafford, so what does the future hold for the self proclaimed: ‘special one’?

When he burst into English football back in 2004, Jose Mourinho took great pleasure in telling us that he was different from the rest and having guided his Porto team to domestic and European glory few could doubt his self belief which bordered on unadulterated arrogance.

But having departed United last December with the club languishing in the wake of fierce rivals Manchester City and Liverpool, and some way off Champions League qualification following their worst start to a league season in nearly three decades, serious questions are now being asked about his credentials.

In the early days of his coaching career Mourinho was seen as something of a breath of fresh air, a young and fiercely competitive character who set about challenging the status quo and taking on the more established managers at the time like Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

However, his relatively poor showing during almost three years at Old Trafford has led many to believe he is now football’s Father Time figure with the new generation of Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp more than capable of filling his shoes.

To be fair to Mourinho, many of the younger coaches which are now rife in the English game may well have cut their teeth on his rather methodical and pragmatic approach, but as we all know the game has a habit of evolving almost overnight and Jose might just have been caught napping.


Players have changed significantly since Mourinho's successes in the 2000s and it’s not as easy to find individuals willing to accept his rather negative ‘Tactical Periodization’ style of play, which relies heavily on defensive discipline while looking to win games on the counter.

Then there’s his controversial style of man management which ultimately caused problems during his time at both Chelsea and Manchester United.

A siege mentality is one thing but only if you are aware of whose side you are on and public humiliation of players, even if it’s dressed up as ‘tough love’, brings its own problems at a time when a hug appears to be the order of the day.

With this in mind it’s difficult to see just where Jose Mourinho’s next opportunity in the game will come as, despite his obvious flaws, his CV is still one of the finest around, interest in his services is bound to come sooner or later.

Having burnt so many bridges with Chelsea a third stint in West London is unthinkable, though the door at Inter and Porto remains open for now at least however unlikely, while an almost unhealthy desire for success means a return to Madrid can’t be ruled out.

Bayern Munich, currently playing second fiddle to Dortmund in the Bundelsiga and in desperate need of an overhaul, would have once seemed a likely fit, but a club with such a rigid structure is unlikely to take a risk on his turbulent tendencies.

Ditto for PSG who, despite being desperate for Champions League success, are also likely to give this serial winner a swerve.

Ironically, for a man who has managed some of the biggest clubs in the game, Mourinho has always excelled in his role as the underdog, the pantomime villain who likes nothing more than upsetting the odds and ruffling feathers and for this reason a move to a club with a point to prove could be the best move for this natural antagonist rather than another establishment organisation.

Wherever it might be, there’s little doubt that a hungry, hurt and slightly bloody-nosed Mourinho is desperate for a swift return to the game as he tries to prove his doubters wrong, though perhaps the bigger question is; is football ready for him?

Chairmen and owners these days appear to be all about the project, the journey, the long-term and few would take a punt on a manager who seems to routinely self-destruct with little regard for the collateral damage caused.

There also seems to be a genuine reluctance to change with the times and the way he dealt with Paul Pogba - who used the power of social media to wage war with his manager - showed little appreciation or awareness of the digital world from a man who still places huge importance on his often volatile relationship with the press.

The fact that he’s always landed the top jobs and been paid handsomely for doing so regardless of success may well have skewed his own perception of his abilities, meaning it could be time for something of a reboot before we see the next chapter in Mourinho’s story.

So until the ‘Special One’ comes to terms with the fact that he might not be so special anymore his options could well be limited. They say a change is as good as a rest and unless he’s willing to adapt his enforced break from the game might be a little longer than anticipated.

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