Jose Mourinho's Legacies (Or Lack There Of)

Jose Mourinho's Legacies (Or Lack There Of)

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The announcement of Claudio Ranieri as the next Inter Milan manager marks the fourth man to manage the Milanese club since Jose Mourinho was in charge. None of Gasperini, Benitez or Leonardo have managed to replicate his success at the club both domestically and more importantly in Europe.

Mourinho’s successors failed to get out of his shadow. He is certainly a difficult act to follow with unique charm and charisma as well as a seriously strong bond with his players. Several of the Inter Milan players have continued to sing Mourinho’s praises, Wesley Sneijder described him as ‘the undisputed number one’ manager in the World. Following this must be difficult for any manager and it has been the same for Mourinho’s successors at Chelsea, as well as at Porto.

Andre Villa-Boas is the only exception, bringing domestic and European success to the club, but this was seven years after Mourinho’s departure. AVB also marks the fifth manager to take over at Chelsea after Mourinho. At Chelsea like at Inter the players seemingly pined after their former manager, as did fans putting incredible pressure on anyone to follow in his foot steps. The abuse that Avram Grant received in the aftermath of Mourinho’s departure was a disgusting example of this. It can almost be described as a ‘cult of personality.’ The ‘us against the World’ mentality Mourinho installed at his clubs was a huge contributory factor to his success but as stated made it incredibly difficult for anyone else to succeed as they struggle to get that same bond with the players. In fact at Chelsea the only man to successfully win the players over fully (its of course difficult to assess AVB at such an early stage) was Guus Hiddink, himself a real character with a strong record of success.

What can be said of this? As stated Mourinho’s huge reputation and ability to bring about success has certainly raised the bar of expectation at the clubs he has managed. For Inter Milan, despite dominating the domestic scene in the aftermath of Serie A’s match-fixing scandal, the Champions League had evaded them since 1965 and in winning the most coverted title in Europe Mourinho raised the bar of expectation ridiculously high.

Porto had not won the league in three seasons or experienced European success since the 1980s. Mourinho delivered success on all fronts including a treble in his final season as well as being unbeaten at home during his time there, as he also was with Chelsea.

Mourinho’s success has been incredible, he is one of only three managers to win the European Cups with two different teams, six league titles, and seven domestic cups with four different teams. Despite this it is no coincidence that he has left clubs in such dissarray, it is not just his reputation that managers have struggled to fill, much of his predecessors failure to bring success is down to Mourinho’s own failure to leave any sort of legacy at the clubs he leaves.

At Porto he massively over achieved and the clubs best players were aware of this. Winning the Champions League was probably as far as that set of players could go and future success seemed for the majority quite unlikely. As a result Ferriera and Carvalho followed Mourinho to Chelsea and playmaker Deco moved to Barcelona. This no doubt led to their failure to have any real impact in Europe in the direct aftermath of Mourinho’s departure. and there were no top young players waiting in the wings to step up. Success with Porto acted as a springboard for Mourinho to move to a higher-paid, higher-profile job.

One thing in particular he was guilty of at Chelsea is failing to bring through any young players. He is very much a short term manager with a short term plan. Thus far nobody can doubt his success but he’s never left behind institutions to foster continued success. He equally brought through no such young players at Inter Milan. His transfer policy was further evidence of this, Diego Milito was 30 when he signed for the club. Lucio, a cornerstone of Inter’s solid defence that season was 31 on signing for the club. These are short-term signings with no sell on value, but the sell on value is irrelevant to Mourinho as he would leave before they do.

At Madrid it should be noted that he has signed several young players, Di Maria and Ozil in particular have enjoyed great success for the side, but younger players such as Pedro Leon or Canales have barely featured, to the extent they’ve been some what frozen out by Mourinho.Pedro Leon and Canales may not be established stars yet but they are two of the most highly rated youngsters in Spain.

Nobody is under the illusion that Mourinho will remain at Madrid for a long time, he will probably do his best to topple Barca and then leave. The reasons behind his short-term mentality are simple, he is desperate for success at multiple clubs winning multiple trophies. He has a short term goal for success and thus blooding young players is counter-productive for his plans, why bring through young players if you wont be around to reap the benefits? There is simply no incentive for him to do so if he doesn’t envisage a future with the club.

Another issue is his ego, he is undoubtedly a very difficult man to work with. The way the relationship with Abramovich broke down is a clear example of this, he has also had his fair share of problems with the Madrid boardroom, although most managers in recent years have. His inability to cooperate with his bosses definitely prevented any long term plan taking place at Chelsea. Mourinho had expressed a desire to stay at Chelsea for years to come but his lack of diplomacy with the boardroom made this impossible.

Mourinho’s success is great but with regards to his managerial rivals in England such as Ferguson or Wenger, when they leave their respective clubs will leave behind a legacy of both success and of great football, as well as of a solid youth policy. Wenger has changed the way Arsenal play forever, turning a boring defensive side into an expansive attacking team made up of some of the brightest young stars in Europe. Ferguson has rebuilt his side countless times over the years and it is mainly due to him that the club have turned into such a marketing giant, the recent DHL deal being testament to this. When either of these men leave both clubs will be safe in the knowledge that the managers have left behind the structures for anyone to step in successfully.

When assessing Mourinho’s success it is important to note that building a side and maintaining long term success such as that experienced by Sir Alex Ferguson is incredibly impressive and something Mourinho is yet to achieve.  If Mourinho wants to be remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest manager of all time he will need to settle somewhere and really build a side such as Ferguson has with United. Mourinho is only 48 and what he has achieved so far is remarkable, he still has plenty of time to adapt and build a team to be remembered for footballing generations to come in the same way Ferguson has. Whether this will be at United or not remains to be seen.


  1. He brought Balotelli through at Inter, and he’s brought in several younger players at Real Madrid while Ricardo Carvalho and Hamit Altintop are the only players over 23 he’s signed there, the latter on a free transfer. Similarly you could argue that clubs hire him to bring them immediate success, and that in Italy but particularly at Chelsea no manager can make long term plans because of Abramovich’s infamously fickle impatience. I think you’re reading his reputation and mistaking it for his personality somewhat.

  2. I’ll try never to forget Inter’s 2nd leg against Barcelona. Easily one of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed.