Jose Mourinho’s plunging stock in 11 years since Inter Milan’s historic treble
Some will say it is ironic, others will say it is well deserved. But on the 11th anniversary of sealing a historic treble with Inter Milan, his greatest career achievement, Jose Mourinho knows his stock has plunged to an all-time high.
There is no concealment of the pain he must have felt when Tottenham president Daniel Levy brutally wielded the ax just six days before Spurs were due at Wembley for the Carabao Cup final , ending his 17-month reign in north London.
He replaced Mauricio Pochettino with a promise of success, which made his seemingly premature departure all the more confusing. For the first time in his career, he was denied the opportunity to win a trophy.
It looks like he’s done with the Premier League for now, after two separate spells with Chelsea and hostile exits from Manchester United and Spurs.
But after his release, Mourinho fended off the temptation to wallow and take a sabbatical from football. Instead, the 57-year-old got back into the executive seat, if you will.
Now, a new start with Roma awaits us, the Portuguese having to succeed his compatriot Paulo Fonseca this summer and with him, seal a romantic return to Serie A.
He remains an emblematic figure in Italy. When Mourinho agreed to take over Inter Milan in June 2008, there was an understandable sense of anticipation.
The prospect of ‘The Special One’ opening the next chapter of his Serie A managerial career was exciting, and it would somehow help repair Italy’s reputation in the eyes of the world after the Calciopoli scandal.
The Portuguese had been unceremoniously sacked by Chelsea nine months earlier, after guiding the West London team to two league titles. But that feat, coupled with an astonishing Champions League triumph with Porto in 2004, would still place Mourinho among the best coaches in the world.
The Nerazzurri had already won three straight Serie A titles and under Mourinho they would extend that race to five. But the 2009/10 campaign was different and will remain a special memory for all Inter fans for the rest of their lives.
As champions, they had built a phenomenal team, with talent overflowing in all areas. Julio Cesar, Walter Samuel, Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic, Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o were just a few of the players at Mourinho’s disposal. They were fighters and that fit his philosophy perfectly.
But it would still take a monumental effort to topple Barcelona, which were at the height of their powers under Pep Guardiola. How to stop Lionel Messi, David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xavi?
Yet it was Mourinho, the man who knew how to win games. It was by no means easy to watch, with extended periods of defending, wasting time, and performing the ‘dark arts’, but it painted a picture of unity and collective resilience. .
This ultimately proved the difference when the two sides met in the semi-finals in April 2010, with Inter refusing to back down when Barca repeatedly threatened to knock on the door and progressed to the final 2-1 in the total.
The way Inter dismantled Bayern Munich in the final was devastating. Each man knew his task and stuck to it, with the Italian side canceling the double act of winger Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Milito proved why he was widely recognized as Europe’s deadliest sniper at the time, scoring both goals at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Having already won the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia, Mourinho would celebrate his first and only hat-trick. But his goal was already set on the next part of his trip and he jumped at the chance to take the vacant position at Real Madrid.
His outing was incredibly moving, not just for Mourinho but also for the players – Marco Materrazzi was famous kissing his departing boss while holding back tears. To them it was like the end of an era – and it was.
The opportunity to bring Real back to the top of Spanish football, while taking on Guardiola and handling world-class stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos… it was just too good to refuse.
More success followed when in 2011/12 Mourinho brought La Liga back to the Spanish capital with a point record, becoming the fifth manager to win domestic titles in four different countries.
Still, it didn’t take long for his reign to turn sour. Iker Casillas was dropped in favor of Diego Lopez, while Gonzalo Higuain was left out in favor of the less prolific Karim Benzema.
Ultimately, these Mourinho power games contributed to a toxic atmosphere at the club and its hostile relationship with the Spanish media. When his contract expired in 2013, he returned to Chelsea.
“I know that in England I am loved,” he said after Real’s Champions League exit at Borussia Dortmund in April. “I know that I am liked by certain clubs, in particular one.”
In his eight years in England from 2013, Mourinho won the Premier League and the EFL Cup with Chelsea in 2014/15, as well as the Europa League and EFL Cup as Man United boss in 2016/17. .
It would also represent some of the worst moments of his career. The fact that he was sacked just seven months after leading Chelsea to their third title together, with the club hovering dangerously above the relegation zone in 16th place, will tarnish his illustrious career forever.
Likewise, Man United’s eventual demise – from second place in his first season to sixth when he was sacked in December 2018 – reinforced the idea that his footballing ideals were no longer suited to modern play.
Spurs fans weren’t impressed with Mourinho’s defensive tactics, especially when it contributed to unfavorable results. But there was still hope he could end their 13-year drought. Levy’s decision, good or bad, means we’ll never know.
Now he moves on to Roma where the task is easier and less demanding, with the seventh club in Serie A.
Mourinho is very rarely a man to deviate from his usual ways, but with football director Tiago Pinto taking a hands-on approach to transfers, he will have to work with his compatriot to make his stint at Stadio Olimpico a success.
If he could regain greatness at Roma, or even put them back in contention for the league title, then maybe he would regain that air of superiority that made Mourinho “special”, as he put it.