A Barcelona Expert On Why Mourinho Is The Special One

Throughout history there are no other managers who have built up such a brand surrounding themselves, to be the biggest star at any club he's at. And to think Mourinho achieved all this as a no-name player...
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A Barcelona Expert On Why Real Madrid's Mourinho Is The Special One

Modern football has produced many greats on the pitch but few off it. The casual football fan may be more familiar with Argentine genius, Diego Armando Maradona, his Brazilian counterpart, Edison Arantes do Nascimento, or as he is better known, Pelé, or Dutch master Hendrik Johannes Cruijff alias Johan Cruyff. Though they have hanged up the football boots decades ago, their names still resonates with football fans worldwide. The majority of younger football fans have never seen Pelé, Johan Cruyff or Maradona live, due to being handicapped by not being alive during their respective era, but their parents had the privilege to have witnessed some of the greatest footballers of all time. Pre-YouTube, the testimony and passion fans had for their heroes ensured none of the aforementioned names will ever be forgotten. Professional footballers by the nature of their profession have always been global icons only rivalled in popularity by movie stars. One will always remember goals, the spectacular, the unthinkable, legendary matches and most importantly, the titles and trophies. However, more often than not the engineer, the brain that produced the master plan that envisioned and mapped out the road to glory in the first place, is forgotten all too soon. The job of a football manager is, at times, an unthankful one. If the team is underperforming and not delivering the desired results, it’s the manager who burdens the lion share of the blame. Very seldom must the expensively paid players face repercussions for underwhelming performances, let alone the prospect of losing their job. On the other hand, the players bask in the limelight if glory is attained and titles are won.

Marinus "Rinus" Jacobus Hendricus Michels, for instance, the late manager credited with inventing “Total Football” is not much of a well-known entity outside of football circles. The spiritual godfather, so to speak, of FC Barcelona’s football philosophy, one of the games’ most inventive tacticians, relegated to peripheral figure in the history of one of the greatest clubs in the world. More people remember his apprentice, Johan Cruyff, for his brilliance as a player always guaranteed that the media would focus on him. Johan Cruyff is probably one of the first larger-than-life managers the game has seen, due to his exploits as player. If anything, there aren’t many managers who transcend the game and become brands in their own rights.

If reports are to believed he used to scout opposition teams for his father who used to be a coach when he was a teenager

Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, will forever be known as the manager who has brought glory and dominance to the Red Devils. He has ensured that his name will be praised and sung by United supporters decades after he calls it a day and retires from his position. Stories like the incident involving flying boots and David Beckham have already written themselves into Manchester United folklore. Not to mention Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary ‘hairdryer treatment’ which has caused grown men to crack, is already stuff of legend. His decades-spanning career well into the 2000’s has also ensured that his achievements are also captured by the YouTube/Internet generation. Memory is fickle, a video clip is everlasting. Without the internet one wouldn’t be able to easily research ‘the flying boot’ incident. Still, while Sir Alex Ferguson will undoubtedly enter the history books as one of the greatest managers of all time, probably the greatest, his star, if you will, does not shine brighter than that of his players.

Meet José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix alias José Mourinho, the self-anointed Special One.

Born 26th January 1963, in Setúbal, Portugal, Jose Mourinho enjoyed a rather unremarkable football career as a central midfielder, turning out for such sides as Rio Ave, Belenenses, Sesimbra and Comércio e Indústria. In that regard he’s unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, a man he holds in high esteem, who had a prolific career as forward or the aforementioned Johan Cruyff. No one could’ve quite anticipated the ascension of Jose Mourinho to the very elite of football managers and beyond. However, if reports are to believed he used to scout opposition teams for his father who used to be a coach when he was a teenager. Those who enjoy watching the occasional football match will probably not register the nuances of the beautiful game such as tactics, defensive and offensive movement. To scout a team and break down how a team ‘works’ requires a lot of patience and tactical acumen. It’s a testimony to his meticulous approach that would only be refined over the years.

What distinguishes José Mourinho from the rest of über-successful managers, however, is his unique ability to be essentially a one-man show

Drive, determination and persistence in addition to his meticulousness are probably the other character traits often associated with José Mourinho. So it doesn’t come quite as a surprise that his entry into management came via a translator position for the late Sir Bobby Robson. Yet it takes quite a talent to progress from translator to assistant coach to manager. But that’s exactly how José Mourinho made his bones. For someone as determined to make it in football as José Mourinho, it speaks volumes of his principles to walk away after being refused a contract extension at Sport Lisboa e Benfica (Benfica Lisbon). Most people wouldn’t walk away from their dream; Mourinho did and resurfaced at União Desportiva de Leiria, showcasing his abilities once more.

What succeeded his tenure post-União Desportiva de Leiria is simply unprecedented and unmatched – winning every domestic title with every team in every league he has managed thus far (Portugal, England, Italy & Spain). Throw in a double of Champions League trophies for good measure and you’re looking at one of the most enviable, and diverse, CV’s in football.

What distinguishes José Mourinho from the rest of über-successful managers, however, is his unique ability to be essentially a one-man show. Wherever he goes, he, and not his players becomes the center of attention. How about announcing his arrival in English football?

“I'm not a defender of old or new football managers. I believe in good ones 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.”José Mourinho

There’s confidence, there’s arrogance and there’s José Mourinho. He came, he saw and he conquered English football. Winning all trophies the English game has on offer.

Some of sports best loved athletes share José Mourinho’s overblown belief in self, look no further than the greatest of them all, Muhammad Ali

Managers tend to be cautious, always aware of their fragile relationship with supporters and board alike. All it takes in top level management is one bad sequence to turn believers into doubters and supporters into the fiercest of critics. Declaring one’s own grandiosity takes someone special indeed. Nevertheless, some of sports best loved athletes share José Mourinho’s overblown belief in self, look no further than the greatest of them all, Muhammad Ali.

“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was.” Muhammad Ali

Already one of the finest and most successful the game has ever seen, José Mourinho, also attracts sponsorship and endorsement deals usually reserved for the players he trains (Adidas, American Express etc.). The outrageous press-conferences, the memorable sound bites (zeru tituli, anyone?), the polarizing personality, the over-the-top antics, last but not least; his success, has contributed to the fact that José Mourinho is more than your average manager. He has become one of football’s most marketable and recognizable figures, and he’s not nor ever was a world-class player. While some of the games legends lend their name and image to some highly questionable products (Pelé, Viagra?), José Mourinho doesn’t settle for less than he thinks of himself – the very best.

There’s a fine line between genius and madness and José Mourinho walks that line with aplomb. Whether you love him or loathe him, José Mourinho is indeed The Special One.

Follow me on Twitter @JubeiKibagame

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