The Mourinho years
He came, he saw, he wore a big grey overcoat, and he conquered. Jose Mourinho lit up the world of football, and became one of the few managers whose fame transcends the game. As he leaves Chelsea, Brian Viner looks back on the turbulent reign of a self-styled 'special one'
Published 21/09/2007 | 10:26
Among those entitled to mourn yesterday's news that Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix had dramatically quit as the manager of Chelsea Football Club - along with Chelsea fans, football correspondents, and the makers of Portuguese Barca Velha wine (sales of which rocketed after Mourinho sent a case to his Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson following a touchline spat) - were the producers of a new documentary about Chelsea, entitled Blue Revolution.
In Blue Revolution the film director Lord Attenborough, a regular at Stamford Bridge since 1942 and now Chelsea's lifetime vice-president, whimsically suggests how he might cast a fantasy movie about the club.
Attenborough chooses Harrison Ford to play the striker Didier Drogba, and John Wayne to play the goalkeeper Petr Cech. For the role of chief executive Peter Kenyon, he picks, after some deliberation, the young Spencer Tracy. And who might portray Mourinho, the self-styled "special one"? This time there is no deliberation. "Brando," says Attenborough, firmly. "Jose... is a personality you feel could go explosively in almost any direction he chose to go."
These were unwittingly prescient words, revealed on the day Mourinho went explosively in the opposite direction from Stamford Bridge, with his latest reflection on his expensive and currently under-achieving Chelsea squad still ringing bewilderingly in the ears of those who heard it. " Omelette, eggs, no eggs, no omelettes," he said. "It depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket you have eggs, class one, class two, class three. Some are more expensive than others, and some give you better omelettes. When the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem."
The football world in general will miss such bursts of what can only be called eggsistentialism. But Chelsea fans in particular will miss more than that. It is unlikely that the famously lachrymose Attenborough watched Mourinho depart with dry eyes, not least because he has seen the compassionate side of a man better known for an almost complete lack of humility.
Shortly after Attenborough lost his daughter and grand-daughter in the 2004 tsunami, he spotted Mourinho across a crowded function suite. "He was right at the other side of the room. Without any ostentation, he just made his way
across the room - I hardly knew him - and put his arms around me. I have always found him a man of great charm and a wonderful persona. I mean, he's a star. I think our [Chelsea's] future is very much tied up with him. I think all of them [at the club], even those with whom he's had a spat once or twice, would be devastated if he was not there."
Let the devastation begin. As for the fantasy movie, which must also now be junked, while Attenborough's suggestions of Harrison Ford and John Wayne to play Drogba and Cech are perhaps a little overblown, and while it might be said that Peter Kenyon evokes the young Frank Spencer more than he does the young Spencer Tracy, the choice of Marlon Brando as the smouldering Mourinho is absolutely spot on. If they were ever to remake The Wild One, they could cast Mourinho and call it The Special One. Indeed, Mourinho's complex, charismatic personality is a veritable jigsaw of Brando roles: he is part Terry Molloy in On the Waterfront, part Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty, part Vito Corleone in The Godfather, and part Colonel Walter E Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. But now he has had his last tango as Chelsea manager, and Chelsea, despite being bankrolled by one of the richest men in the world in Roman Abramovich, will surely be the poorer for it.
So, for that matter, will London. When Mourinho breezed into town in June 2004, he seemed the very personification, despite the slight handicap of being Portuguese, of London's confident new image of itself as the capital of the world. Here was global football's hottest property, a man who as manager of the Portuguese club FC Porto had just maximised extremely modest resources to win the massively lucrative Champions League, choosing to ply his trade on the dear old Fulham Road. It made sense. Whereas someone so upwardly mobile would once have left FC Porto for Madrid, or Barcelona, or Milan, or Rome, for a man of such burning ambition, London now seemed the obvious destination. It was a symbiotic relationship. Like London, Mourinho was brash, arrogant and, on a good day, absurdly good-looking. He needed London, and London needed him.
In the first few weeks of his tenure it was almost impossible to listen to any football pundit or phone-in punter talking about him without hearing the phrase "breath of fresh air". It's not often in this country that so many people speak so highly of a man hired to do a job for £4.2m a year. A handsome, well-dressed, foreign man at that. But one week I kept count, and on both radio and television I heard "breath of fresh air" in relation to Mourinho used no fewer than 37 times. Well, London is perennially in need of fresh air, and so for that matter is English football. Even supporters of Manchester United and Arsenal, who had most to lose from powerful new competition, hailed him as a Good Thing. When the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson snorted that Abramovich's riches would not buy success for Chelsea, Mourinho's sharp riposte made everyone smile, including Ferguson. "Ferguson is right," he said. "Money does not guarantee success. I showed that last season when my FC Porto team beat Manchester United."
After a while, though, the fresh air dispensed by Mourinho turned fetid. It would be wrong to assert that success - in his first season he ended Chelsea's 50-year wait to become league champions, and captured another title the following season - went to his head. His self-regard was elephantine from the start. But his tendency to say exactly what he thought began to win more enemies than friends, and his frequent comments at the expense of other club's players and managers were deemed not just provocative but downright incendiary. A feud developed with the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, of whom Mourinho disdainfully said: "I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea."
Mourinho, meanwhile, spoke, spoke, spoke about everyone else. One club, Everton, even threatened to sue him for effectively accusing their expensive new acquisition, the striker Andrew Johnson, of being an habitual cheat. On that occasion, Mourinho apologised. On other occasions, he did not. The grey Armani overcoat, which had once symbolised his effortless style and flair, started to look like the cloak of a posturing ninny. And in May this year - a particularly bad month for Mourinho, who saw Manchester United succeed Chelsea as Premier League champions - you could almost touch the schadenfreude when the news broke that he had been arrested after refusing to let police put his pet Yorkshire terrier Leya into quarantine, in contravention of the Rabies Order of 1974. The headline-writers positively hugged themselves with delight.
And then, almost imperceptibly, the tide turned again. Shortly before this season began, Mourinho promised to be less confrontational with his fellow managers. More significantly, he had already won the football world's sympathy for his treatment at the hands of Abramovich, who had recruited his fellow Russian Andrei Shevchenko against his manager's wishes. It is true that Shevchenko is not exactly Mr Bean on a football field, and some of us would wish such extravagant high-handedness from the chairmen of the clubs we support, but slowly, surely, Mourinho, the proudest of men, who despite being the owner of a Yorkshire terrier called Leya exudes continental machismo from every pore, was being emasculated. He couldn't even, at least in public, take any pleasure in a series of woeful performances from Shevchenko. It was a dispiriting spectacle, and when in July Abramovich hired the Israeli manager Avram Grant to be Chelsea's director of football, again against Mourinho's wishes, the writing was on the boardroom wall. To nobody's surprise, it is Grant who succeeds the Special One.
Nor should it come as a surprise, at least to those (such as himself) who consider him a form of messiah, that Mourinho s departure from the club at which his job once seemed as safe as the Bank of England should coincide with an unnerving crisis of confidence in the City of London. Just as his arrival in 2004 symbolised the right of Londoners to feel good about themselves and their city, so his departure seems symbolic of their right to feel a little jittery. If there is to be a bonfire of the vanities outside the wine bars on the Fulham Road, the guy on top of it should wear an Armani overcoat. Nevertheless, it is certain that the Special One will rise again, perhaps at Barcelona, where he once held a job, when Bobby Robson was manager, as Robson's interpreter.
As a player himself, Mourinho was anything but special, even though his father, Jose Manuel Mourinho Felix, the son of a humble fisherman, was once the Portuguese national goalkeeper. As for his mother, a 2004 biography, O Vencedor - De Setubal a Stamford Bridge ("The Winner - from Setubal to Stamford Bridge"), against which he tried and failed to take an injunction, alleged that she lived in fear of him, complying with his command not to speak to the media.
Whatever the truth of that, it is known that Mourinho was born in Setubal on 26 January 1963, and that he grew up desperate to become a footballer. He turned professional with his father's club, Rio Ave, but clearly did not have the talent to succeed, and it doesn't take a psychoanalyst to realise that the disappointment of failing as a player propelled his fierce managerial ambition.
His mother enrolled him on a business course, on which he lasted only a single day, before switching to physical education. He became a PE teacher, and the PE attendance figures rocketed. "Until he arrived no girls ever wanted to do PE, but suddenly nobody was asking for a doctor's sick note," a (female) former pupil later breathlessly recalled.
In due course Mourinho became youth coach at Portuguese club Vitoria Setubal and from there assistant coach at Estrela da Amadora, hardly the big stage for which he yearned. Then, in 1992, the former England boss Bobby Robson was appointed manager at Sporting Lisbon, and asked for a local coach who spoke decent English to help him with coaching. Mourinho got the job, and when Robson moved on to Barcelona, he went with. Who, folk in Barcelona wanted to know, was this handsome young Portuguese fella always following the venerable Englishman around and hanging on his every word? Inevitably, a rumour circulated that they were gay lovers (still a source of much hilarity to Elsie Robson and Tami Mourinho, mother of Jose's two children). But it wasn't pillow talk that Mourinho shared with Robson, it was detailed consideration of how to get the best out of the players.
When Robson left Barcelona, his protege stayed on, and continued to learn the finer points of coaching from Robson's successor, the urbane Louis van Gaal. It was Robson, he has since said, who taught him how to motivate players, but van Gaal who showed him the importance of preparation. Eventually, Mourinho was ready to manage on his own. He went to Benfica, to Uniao de Leiria, and then, in 2002, to FC Porto, where for the first time he found himself directly managing players of real quality, and where he pioneered his own big idea: that football coaching should be a science rather than an art.
At school in Setubal, Mourinho had been bored by literature, but enjoyed maths. He love drawing diagrams and graphs, and calculating probabilites, all of which he was now, for the first time, able to make a central tenet of his coaching philosophy. This meant a scientific approach not just to the game's tactics, but also to the psychology and motivation of players. His ideas yielded two Portuguese championships, one domestic cup, the Uefa Cup and finally the real pot of gold, the Champions League, which was when Abramovich, unimpressed with the incumbent coach at Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri, came calling.
At Chelsea, Mourinho continued to refine his ideas and was rewarded with similar success (although not the Champions League he craved). He sent substitutes on to the pitch with diagrammatic notes for the rest of the team. And he made sure that his players went out brimming with his own level of self-belief. "I don't have to control Mr Abramovich," he once said. "He has to control me." Well, Abramovich has finally exercised that control in brutal fashion, and might just live to regret it, not quite as those who crossed Vito Corleone did in The Godfather, but perhaps in a form of footballing vengeance. The final of the Champions League, 2008/9 season - Chelsea, managed by Avram Grant, 0; Barcelona, managed by Mourinho, 3. Now that would truly be a horse's head in Abramovich's bed.
Mourinho The Sex Symbol
By Jessica Callan
Just when the football season has kicked off, the only tasty thing about it has got his coat and left. Well great. Honestly, who am I meant to fantasise over now?
Forget metrosexual girly boy Beckham and his monthly change of hairstyles, bland Michael Owen and Fungus the Bogeyman lookalike Rooney, Mourinho has oozed genuine sex appeal in a world of no-hopers. Just the sight of other hideous football managers over the years (yes Kevin Keegan, I'm talking about you here) is enough to make you realise that when the pouting Portuguese pitched up at Chelsea, the women of Britain stopped tutting at Match of the Day and started staring dreamily at the screen.
The man is a walking pheromone. Usually the Euro thing would make me want to heave but somehow the heady combination of his effortless sense of style, dark tan (he'd beat George Hamilton hands down in a tan-off), salt-and-pepper Indie-band haircut, success with Chelsea and outrageous arrogance makes him the most fanciable man in football. Jose even looks sexy when he walks his Yorkshire terrier, goddamnit.
OK, so any bloke who refers to himself as a "special one" deserves a Chinese burn. But he said it with such a God-given sense of entitlement (while looking like a bronzed, serious version of George Clooney with a sexy foreign accent) that he got away with it. The real clincher for me is that he is married to his childhood sweetheart, is a doting dad and is seemingly squeaky clean. Men like this simply do not exist. So Jose's secret antics have become a serious topic of conversation among my friends. After starting the debate with: "Jose Mourinho. Would you?" we move on to what we imagine the magnitude of his bedroom prowess could be - that's what real women talk about when they discuss football.
I remember seeing Jose carrying his son at the premiere of The Incredibles in Leicester Square three years ago. He was smiling and unveiled a pair of dimples. Suddenly, the grinning Mourinho was just as sexy as the scowling one. What I have always failed to understand is why his wife (who quite frankly is no oil painting) doesn't look like she has won life's lottery. Doesn't she realise how lucky she is?
It hasn't all been smooth sailing. I cringe when he talks in Cantona-style riddles (we'll gloss over the egg comments). And I briefly fell out of love when he cut his locks. But now, Jose, after three years as my number one celebrity sexpot, we're over. If you stay in England I may be willing to take you back.
Don't even think about doing Strictly Come Dancing though.
Jessica Callan is the author of W icked Whispers: Confessions of a 3am Gossip Queen, published by Michael Joseph
Mourinho The mouth
"I'm not a defender of old or new football managers. I believe in good and bad ones, those that achieve success and those that don't. Please don't call me arrogant, but I'm European champion and I think I'm a special one."
At his first press conference with British media, June 2004
"There are only two ways for me to leave Chelsea. One way is in June 2010 when I finish my contract and if the club doesn't give me a new one... The second way is for Chelsea to sack me. The way of the manager leaving the club by deciding to walk away, no chance! I will never do this to Chelsea supporters."
Mourinho's response when asked if success in the Carling Cup final might be the last trophy he would win for Chelsea, February 2007
"The dog is fine in Portugal. That big threat is away - you don't have to worry about crime anymore."
After the police questioned him over his pet's health certification, May 2007
"If he helped me out in training, we would be bottom of the league. And if I had to work in his world... we would be bankrupt."
On his difficult relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, March 2005
"Liverpool scored, if you can say that they scored, because maybe you should say the linesman scored."
On Liverpool's controversial goal that knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League, May 2005
"We are on top at the moment, but not because of the club's financial power... [it is] because of my hard work."
On leading the title race, February 2005
"Ricardo Carvalho seems to have problems understanding things. Maybe he should have an IQ test, or go to a mental hospital or something."
After Carvalho spoke out about his failure to be selected for the Chelsea squad, August 2005
"Look, we're not entertaining? I don't care; we win."
On Chelsea's performance at the start of the 2006-07 season
"They have to enjoy playing for me and Chelsea but they don't have to be in love with me."
Referring to his Chelsea players, august 2005
"For me... pressure is bird flu... I'm serious - the bird flu in Scotland is bothering me more."
During the week bird flu was discovered in Scotland, and Manchester United closed the gap at the top of the Premier League to seven points, April 2006
"Robbie Williams, when he's in London, stays at the hotel where we [Chelsea] stay. We meet, we chat."
On his friendship with Robbie Williams, September 2006
"I don't know why. But it's very difficult for women to get near me."
On being a smartly dressed sex symbol, September 2006
"We can control a lot of things. Money allows you to put a sick family member in the best clinic, even provide a private jet. But divine power, we don't have that."
On his wealth and influence, September 2006
Mourinho The Fashion Icon
By Susannah Frankel
With his Martini Man looks, multimillion pound salary and billionaire's team, it's fair to say that no football manager has been the subject of so much sartorial scrutiny as the self-appointed "special one".
From the start, Jose Mourinho cut an iconic image on the sidelines with a fashionably moody oversized grey Armani coat, George-Clooney-meets-James-Coburn silver hair, and seriously brooding good looks. Such was the ubiquity of the aforementioned outerwear during his first season at Chelsea that it inspired this particularly choice chant from Manchester City fans: "Your coat's from Matalan" (to the tune of " Ta-ra-ra Boomdeay").
Although European managers have long been preoccupied with style, traditionally their British counterparts, from Brian Clough to Glenn Hoddle, dressed in scruffy sportswear and bought their suits at Next. But since Mourinho came on to the scene, he's upped the ante considerably - nowadays even Roy Keane tries to dress well.
Mourinho's style has become a part of contemporary culture, as much a subject for debate - and indeed ridicule - as David Beckham's haircuts once were. His look might all be a touch toe-curling (more Sacha Distel past his heyday than Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita), but the brains behind the brawn have taken him into a different, well, into a different league.
As befits his status as a sophisticated European with no need to prove himself, Mourinho is not flashy. But his clothes are sharp, and a million times more accomplished than those of his main rivals, Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Mourinho favours smart tailoring (Hugo Boss), has reintroduced designer stubble into the fashion lexicon and frequently appears in post- match interviews on Match of the Day wearing his tie ostentatiously undone. Crucially, this suggests a challenge to authority (like Sean Penn's at the Oscars). This is, after all, a man who enjoys picking fights. Not least, as we now know, with his own boss.
Part of Mourinho's appeal to women is that he looks like a man who pays attention to style, considering his choice of socks, say, or aftershave carefully. He has more than a touch of the Paco Rabanne pin-up circa 1970 about him.
Finally, Jose Mourinho exudes machismo (unlike his dog which is something of a let down), and has not been afraid to snub big-name players including Andrei Shevchenko and Michael Ballack. He is charming and bright (he speaks five languages, and is a master tactician and lethal exponent of sports psychology). He is also, let's not forget, extremely rich. Especially now.
Mourinho The Media Player
By Sam Wallace
In his best moods, Jose Mourinho would wander among us, shaking hands and slapping backs. In his worst, he could be cutting and haughty in five different languages. But he was never vicious and very rarely personal - simply an alpha male who could not resist having the last word.
It's something of a myth that Mourinho was constantly available to the press: his traditional Friday press conferences at the training ground had become increasingly rare. But he was always available after matches. He viewed his dealings with the press as an intellectual battle, to be fought using his brilliant and unique grasp of English; when he delivered, we lapped it up.
As with Sir Alex Ferguson, the memorable quotations - the "special one" , "mellow Mourinho", and "first-grade eggs" - were always delivered on Mourinho's terms. Unlike less devious souls (Kevin Keegan, for example), he was never gulled into saying anything he didn't want to. His words, like his tactics, seemed premeditated - but they never sounded staged.
I saw him come close to losing it only once. It was after the 2005 Carling Cup final, when he had provocatively waved to the Liverpool fans. Mourinho said instead that he was waving to his wife. When he was accused of being liberal with the truth, he took it as a slight on his marriage. The Iberian machismo got the better of him. He was almost out of his chair, finger-jabbing, ready for a scrap.
But he was at his best when he was calm and dismissive. The first time Chelsea played Barcelona at the Nou Camp, a Spanish reporter delighted in reminding Mourinho of his humble past as a translator at the club. " Yes, and now I'm one of the best managers in the world," Mourinho replied. "But you're still doing the same job you have always done."
He was at his best in Los Angeles on the summer tour when he pledged to be more "mellow". He talked openly about his family life in London, and, for our entertainment, took the piss mercilessly out of one of the club's long-suffering press officers. As ever with Mourinho, however, the dark moods were always just a heartbeat away.
Mourinho The Manager
By James Hanning
Of course he was the "special one". To know just how special, it helps to have been supporting Chelsea for about four decades. During that time we were involved in endless battles, some with opponents (we briefly harboured Vinnie Jones); some with opposition fans; some for ownership of Stamford Bridge; one, memorably, to avoid dropping into the old Third Division. But never, with much conviction, were we involved in the battle that gives a club real credibility: the League Championship/Premiership.
Under Glenn Hoddle we brought in some big names, the players stopped eating fried breakfasts, and we even reached a Cup Final. Under Ruud Gullit we played sexy football and won our first proper trophy in a quarter of a century. Under Luca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri, the progress continued, or so we thought. The chairman Ken Bates left, and in Roman Abramovich's first season - Ranieri's last - we finished second. A "nearly" team, or so we thought.
Then came Jose. The whole club had a rebore. The dugout filled up with olive-skinned people we still couldn't name, three years on. Suddenly success was what mattered. Jose would look prospective employees in the eye and demand: "Are you a winner?" This was more like it. We had always hated the old Leeds, win-at-all-costs view of the world, but... oh well, if you insist.
Jose won the league in his first season. We acquired a professionalism we had never had. We would take a lead in a game and keep it, and if we didn't, the Fancy Dans at fault would be sent to Siberia. We frightened other sides with our conviction: if we weren't winning, Jose would send on the right man to do the trick. He always got them right. We knew that and, vitally, we knew the players knew that.
We won the league in his second season. Last year, we were never going to win the title, after some shocking injuries. Abramovich stopped watching but the players, with some gut-busting but doomed performances chasing Man United, showed whose side they were on.
Chelsea fans have become used to being told that it is just the Abramovich money that has brought success. No, we said, it is a lot more than that. We are about to find out if we were right.