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Why Jose Mourinho Would Be A Good International Manager


Why Jose Mourinho Would Be A Good International Manager

After Portugal’s disappointing showing at the 2022 World Cup, Fernando Santos was let go as national team manager. A Selecao exited the tournament at the quarter-final stage, with a Youssef En-Nesyri header enough to ensure a shock win for Morocco over Santos’s men that meant they left the tournament in ignominy.

Euro 2016 winner Santos had been contracted until after Euro 2024, but he will now not lead Portugal into that tournament, with the Portuguese Football Federation looking for a successor.

One man who has been linked with the vacant Portugal job is Jose Mourinho, who is currently managing Italian side AS Roma. With the heavily decorated Mourinho having never managed at international level, we take a look at whether he could do so for his country now, and what would help him to do so.

Why Mourinho is Called the Special One

Mourinho is one of the most decorated managers of this generation, with 25 trophies won at six of the nine clubs he has managed. One thing he would bring to this stagnating Portugal team is a winning mentality and experience of doing so at the highest level.

‘The Special One’ is one of the few managers that has managed to win the Champions League with two different clubs (Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010). He has won league titles in four different countries, and has won multiple domestic cups at the clubs he has managed. That includes four Carabao Cups and one FA Cup won during his time in England, the Coppa Italia while in Italy, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana while managing Real Madrid in Spain, and the Taca de Portugal while at Porto.

The 59-year-old knows how to win knockout tournaments, and it is that experience and knowledge of winning such tournaments that means that he would probably be a good fit for Portugal. He has shown that he can do it with other teams besides the biggest, winning the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League with Roma.

Portugal have previously won the Euros in 2016 and the inaugural Nations League, but for a country that has produced such a constant stream of fantastic footballers, it is disappointing that they have not won more silverware, especially the World Cup. Portugal’s best World Cup finals finish is the third place they achieved in the 1966 edition – Mourinho could be the man that breaks that record for Portugal given his success.

Many of Mourinho’s critics believe that the man is unable to manage at the top level anymore, with his style of play constantly labelled as dull and negative. But it is a style that has worked well for him in the past, and he has shown that he can get results with it.

The most famous example is probably when his Inter Milan side, in a dogged defensive display, overcame Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the 2009-10 Champions League despite being down to 10 men in the second leg. They would go on to win the competition.

Mourinho is a great manager when it comes to knockout football, and so rather than continuing to manage clubs during long seasons which include a lot of matches, Mourinho may decide to take his talents to managing his country in such knockout tournaments where he has a high chance of success.

Mourinho’s Man Management Skills

Another thing that would help Mourinho in international football management is his widely-heralded man-management skills. Mourinho has had several public spats with some of his players previously and he has called them out in the press for what he sees as poor performance, but there are also many players who regard “The Special One” as a great manager, praising his man-management skills.

Both Wesley Sneijder and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have previously said that they would “kill and die” for Mourinho, and Dejan Stankovic once said that he “would have thrown himself into a fire” for his manager. Samuel Eto’o has described Mourinho as a “unique coach who perfectly understood every player”, while Frank Lampard has described Mourinho as “the best manager I have ever worked for”. John Terry has also spoken about the excellent relationship he had with Mourinho.

If Mourinho were given the Portugal job, he would have the chance to utilise those famed man-management skills on the current crop of Portuguese players, and that could result in success for Portugal.

Mourinho’s do-anything-to-win mentality has been widely spoken about, but in a recent appearance on beIN Sports during the World Cup, John Terry told a story of how Mourinho utilised a rule that some referees didn’t even know of to help his side win.

When winning 1-0 in a cagey game and they needed to see out the win, Mourinho had a genius tactic. He would instruct Terry and his centre-back partner Gary Cahill to lightly bump into each other and then both go down. In one instance the referee had told the pair to go off the pitch before coming back on. But Mourinho made his players aware that the rule meant both couldn't go off and that was relayed to the officials.

“I remember, the rule was, if we were 1-0 up and the ball got delivered into the box…if two defenders went up together and both went down on the floor after, you didn’t have to go off the field of play” Terry recalled.

The 42-year-old elaborated by saying “so in the last 10 or 15 minutes, he would sit me and Gary Cahill down and go: ‘when the ball comes in the box, make sure you both go down - bump into each other and both go down because you can’t both go off. We’d never heard of that rule ever. So ball comes over in the last 10 minutes, head it away, Gaz goes down and I think ‘I better go down’. So I dropped to the floor and the ref said, ‘you two off the pitch’. I said, ‘no that’s not the rule, ask the linesman’. Mourinho was so far ahead with those little bits and you’re talking small margins and the best managers find those little margins. Incredible”.

It is examples like the one above that shows that Mourinho’s in-game management is second to none when it comes to seeing out games to achieve goals and titles.