“The Special One’s” road to Tottenham

Despite Tottenham’s poor start to the 19/20 season, the club’s decision to sack head coach Mauricio Pochettino came as a surprise to many considering the evident improvements that he has made to Tottenham, with consistently finishing in the top 4 and reaching the Champions League final being something that no Tottenham fan would’ve expected when Pochettino arrived from Southampton. Considering it took less than 24 hours for Tottenham to announce Jose Mourinho would be Pochettino’s replacement, it’s clear that Tottenham specifically wanted Mourinho in charge. The news got us reminiscing about Mourinho’s time at other clubs, so we’ve gone on a trip down memory lane and looked at how he did at his other managerial jobs.

Benfica - 2000

Before Mourinho went back to Portugal to become the assistant manager of Benfica, he spoke to Louis van Gaal who he worked with at Barcelona, van Gaal told Mourinho: “No don’t go. Tell Benfica if they want a first-team coach you will, if they want an assistant you will stay.” Mourinho decided to take the assistant manager role at Benfica and after manager Jupp Heynckes left the club by mutual agreement in September 2000, Mourinho’s opportunity to become a first-team manager presented itself and he decided to take it.


A couple of weeks after Mourinho was appointed as first-team manager, Sir Bobby Robson offered him the assistant manager’s role at Newcastle United, Robson was so desperate for Mourinho to join him that he offered to step down as manager after two years then offer Mourinho the manager position. Mourinho decided to turn down the offer.


Mourinho’s time as Benfica’s manager didn’t last long as club president Manuel Vilarinho refused to offer Mourinho a contract extension and demanded that he resigned, which Mourinho did on the 5th December 2000 after just nine games in charge. Looking back at the incident, Vilarinho declared his frustration regarding his decision: “I would do exactly the opposite, I would extend his contract. Only later I realised that one’s personality and pride cannot be put before the interest of the institution we serve.”

Unilao de Leiria - 2001-2002

Mourinho returned to management when he was offered the managerial role at Portuguese Unilao de Leiria in July 2001 where an 8 game unbeaten run consistently brought the club as high as third and fourth in the Primeira Liga. In January of 2002, Unilao de Leiria were fourth in the league, and Mourinho’s success at the club attracted the attention of other Portuguese clubs, and 3 days after Unilao de Leiria’s draw with Santa Clara, Mourinho was hand-picked by another club.

Porto - 2002-2004

That club was Porto, which is the club where Mourinho announced himself to the world. Mourinho’s first season in charge (2002-2003) saw him win the Primeira Liga with a record 86 points (which has since been beaten by Benfica’s 88 points during the 2015/2016 season) as well as beating former club Unilao de Leiria in the Taça de Portugal final and Celtic in the UEFA Cup final.


Mourinho enjoyed even more success the following season where he once again beat former club Unilao de Leiria to win the Portuguese Super Cup, unfortunately a 1-0 defeat to AC Milan meant Mourinho missed out on the UEFA Super Cup. Mourinho’s Porto finished the season with a perfect Primeira Liga record and secured the title five weeks before the end of the season. Porto lost the in the Taça de Portugal final to Benfica, but it was Porto’s European success that got Mourinho noticed.


An 89th minute goal from Costinha at Old Trafford to give Porto a 3-2 aggregate win over Manchester United was followed by an iconic Mourinho moment where he left the dugout and ran down the sideline in celebration of the goal. This was the moment when Mourinho announced himself to the world. The win advanced Porto to the Champions League quarter-finals where they got past Lyon and then past Deportivo La Coruna to reach the final. A 3-0 victory over Monaco in Gelsenkirchen gave Porto their second European Cup and in the following weeks, Mourinho accepted an offer from Roman Abramovic to become the manager of Chelsea.

Chelsea - 2004-2007

On the 2nd June 2004, Mourinho signed a contract to become Chelsea manager and during a press conference Mourinho iconically said: “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champions and I think I’m a special one.” A quote which lead to the media referring to Mourinho as “The Special One”. Mourinho enjoyed a successful first season at Chelsea where he secured his first trophy by beating Liverpool 3-2 (AET) in the League Cup final. However, Liverpool got revenge and prevented Mourinho from winning back-to-back Champions League after a 1-0 aggregate win in the semi-finals where Liverpool went to the final and eventually won the competition. Mouinho didn’t dwell on the defeat and lead Chelsea top their first top-flight league title in 50 years, as well as recording a record at the time 95 points where they only conceded 15 goals.


Chelsea started the following season with a 2-1 win over Arsenal to win the Community Shield and 9 straight victories in the Premier League. Having been top of the Premier League for 36 consecutive games, a 3-0 victory over Manchester United handed Chelsea their second consecutive Premier League title, which was Mourinho’s fourth domestic title in a row.


At the start of the 06/07 season, rumours of a poor relationship between Mourinho and Roman Abramovic lead to speculation that Mourinho could be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season. Mourinho cleared the doubts that he would resign as manager, saying that he would need to be sacked or not offered another contract for him to leave. Mourinho’s third season in charge continued to see success as Chelsea beat Arsenal to win the League Cup and Manchester United to win the FA Cup. However, Mourinho was unable to win 3 consecutive Premier League titles with Chelsea as Manchester United beat them to the title.


Mourinho started the 07/08 season with a defeat to Manchester United in the Community Shield on penalties, where Edwin van der Saar saved all 3 of Chelsea’s penalties. A 3-2 win against Birmingham City gave Chelsea a record 64th unbeaten home game in a row. Surprisingly, Mourinho was only in charge for 6 Premier League games that season as he left Chelsea by mutual consent on the 20th September 2007, 2 days after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Rosenborg in the Champions League. Mourinho left Chelsea having won 6 trophies and was replaced by Chelsea’s director of football, Avram Grant.

Inter Milan - 2008-2010

On the 2nd June 2008, Mourinho replaced Roberto Mancini to become Inter Milan’s head coach and won the Supercoppa Italiana and Serie A during his first season in charge at the San Siro. A defeat to former rivals Manchester United in the Champions League and Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia meant that Mourinho couldn’t recreate the domestic and European success he enjoyed at Porto.


That wouldn’t be the case during Mourinho’s second season in charge of Inter. Having brought in the likes of: Diego Milito, Thiago Motta, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o, Inter went on to win the Supercoppa Italiana, Serie A and beat Bayern Munich and former boss Louis van Gaal in Madrid to win the Champions League. The day after winning the Champions League, Mourinho said that he was: “sad, as almost for sure it’s my last game with Inter”. Adding, “if you don’t coach Real Madrid then you will always have a gap in your career”, and on the 28th May 2010, Mourinho was released by Inter.

Real Madrid - 2010-2013

Having replaced Manuel Pellegrini at the Bernabeu and inheriting players such as Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo who had arrived the previous season, Mourinho brought in players such as: Ricardo Carvalho, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria to try to win Real Madrid their first league title since 2008 and their first Champions League since 2002. Having won 10 of their opening 12 La Liga games, Real Madrid found themselves top of the table, until they travelled to face Barcelona, where they suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat, from that game onwards Madrid found themselves in second place chasing Barcelona who would finish the season as champions and knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage. Mourinho’s Madrid didn’t finish the season empty-handed as they beat their rivals Barcelona 1-0 in the Copa del Rey final to bring the trophy to the Bernabeu.


The 11/12 season was a much more successful season for Real Madrid and Mourinho. A 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp was Real Madrid’s first league victory over their rivals since 2008 and their first victory at the Nou Camp since 2007. The victory was followed by an unbeaten run of 21 La Liga games which helped Real Madrid win their first league title since 2008. Despite ending their wait for a league title, Mourinho was unable to bring the Champions League back to the Bernabeu as they were knocked out by Bayern Munich during the semi-finals, and a quarter-final defeat to Barcelona meant they were unable to win back-to-back Copa del Rey titles.

Despite signing a new four year contract during May 2012, the 12/13 season would be Mourinho’s last season at the Bernabeu. An away goal victory over Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana meant that Mourinho had won every domestic trophy available for a manager in the Spanish first division within just 2 years as well as becoming the first manager to win the national super cup in 4 different countries. Unfortunately that was a good as it got for Mourinho this season, as he was unable to retain the La Liga title due to Barcelona’s brilliant form where they finished the season with 100 points. Mourinho was once again unable to bring the Champions League to the Bernabeu as a 4-1 first leg defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals was enough to see the German side advance to the final to face Bayern Munich. A 2-1 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey caused Mourinho to describe the 12/13 season as “the worst of my career”. Three days later, Real Madrid President Florentino Perez announced that Mourinho would be leaving the club at the end of the season by “mutual agreement”.

Chelsea - 2013-2015

Less than a month after leaving Real Madrid, Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea manager and during an interview for Chelsea TV Mourinho said, “In my career I’ve had two graet passions, Inter and Chelsea, and Chelsea is more than important for me”. On the 19th April 2014, Mourinho suffered his first home league defeat as Chelsea manager thanks to a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland. The following game saw Chelsea’s beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield in a game which will be remembered for Demba Ba’s opener and Mourinho’s celebration for Chelsea’s second goal where he walked over to the Chelsea fans, shouted, and hit the Chelsea badge. Chelsea would end the season in third place and would experience defeats to: Manchester City in the FA Cup, Sunderland in the League Cup, and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.


With the likes of: Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Thibaut Courtois joining the Chelsea squad, the 14/15 season was a very good one for Chelsea and Mourinho as their brilliant league form meant they were top of the table for every Premier League gameweek, giving them their first Premier League title since 2010. A 2-0 victory over Tottenham at Wembley brought the League Cup to Stamford Bridge. It wasn’t all good for Mourinho and Chelsea as they suffered an embarrassing 4-2 defeat to Bradford City in the FA Cup as well as being knocked out of the Champions League round of 16 on away goals to PSG.


The 15/16 season was one to forget for Mourinho as his side only picked up 11 points from their opening 12 Premier League games, including a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in Mourinho’s 100th Premier League game, as well as a defeat to Stoke in the League Cup. On the 17th of December, having lost 9 of Chelsea’s opening 16 Premier League games, it was announced that Mourinho had left the club by “mutual consent”.

Manchester United - 2016-2018

On the 27th of May 2016, Mourinho signed a contract with Manchester United, which was followed by big signings, with the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic arriving at Old Trafford with Mourinho who got off to a brilliant start by beating Leicester City to win the Community Shield and winning their opening Premier League game 3-1 away to Bournemouth. Mourinho also won his third English League Cup in a 3-2 victory over Southampton at Wembley. United’s form that season was quite poor as they finished 6th in the Premier League, but thanks to their Europa League success where they beat Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm to win the Europa League, United qualified for next season's Champions League.


Ahead of the 17/18 season, Mourinho brought the likes of: Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic to Old Trafford in attempt to improve their league form from the previous season. This seemed to work as United finished in second place behind rivals Manchester City, with a shock 3-2 victory over City at the Etihad Stadium being one of the only high points for United that season. A surprising Champions League exit to Sevilla as well as defeats to Bristol City in the League Cup and former club Chelsea in the FA Cup final began to put pressure on Mourinho who hadn’t really lived up to what was expected of him from what he delivered at other clubs.


A poor start to the 18/19 season where United lost 2 of their opening 3 Premier League games for their first time in 26 years including a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham at Old Trafford saw Mourinho become much more defensive than he was at any other point in his career. Saying things such as: “I won more Premier Leagues alone than the other 19 managers together.” as well as: “I’m also one of the greatest managers in the world”. After winning only 7 of their opening 17 Premier League wins and being 19 points behind the Premier League leaders, Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United on the 18th of December 2018.

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