Image by katatonia82, Bigstock Photo.
Jose Mourinho is no stranger to controversy. Nobody was at all surprised that the combustible Portuguese made all the headlines following the pulsating 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Man Utd at Stamford Bridge.
It’s always going to be strange for Mourinho when he takes another club to play Chelsea, the side where he had such great success in two spells. Saturday’s match was particularly trying for Mourinho as he saw his Man Utd team denied what would have been a wonderful win in the 96th minute of the match and was then moronically and aggressively goaded by a member of the Chelsea coaching team. It’s fair to say, however, that Mourinho could have dealt with things better.
As well as leaping up to confront Marco Ianni in the heat of the moment, Mourinho also walked down the touchline to applaud the traveling United fans and could not resist indulging in a bit of goading himself, reminding the Chelsea fans of the three league titles he had brought to the club. In fairness, this reminder was perhaps warranted given the regular chants of “F**k off Mourinho” that had been heard during the showdown.
Of course, this is far from the first time that Mourinho’s behaviour has been called into question. In fact, by the standards set by the following examples of aggression, petulance and rudeness the ‘Special One’ has demonstrated in the past, it was fairly tame. Strap yourselves in as we take a look at Mourinho’s most controversial moments.
El Clasico Tensions Boil Over
El Clasico is the biggest derby in world football. It’s far bigger than just Real Madrid versus Barcelona. It has political and cultural undertones, with Real Madrid representing the Spanish state facing off against Barcelona, the Catalans who are always angling for their own powers and often for outright independence. From a footballing perspective, Real Madrid and Barcelona are almost always fighting for major honours on a domestic and European level and then there’s the Cristiano Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi prism through which the match was viewed for so long.
The burning fire of this match does not need stoking, much less fuel thrown on it, as was the case when Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were in the opposite dugouts (or should that be corners?). Although it ended in acrimony for Mourinho he seemed to relish being cast in the role of the dark forces against the light of Guardiola and Barcelona. It provided him with extra motivation to win and occasionally brought out the best in him tactically speaking. However, all too often, especially in a non-football sense, it also brought out the worst in him.
Mourinho’s ability to steal the headlines even when there was great action on the pitch shone through during a particularly bad spell in Real Madrid-Barcelona relations in 2011. A brawl threatened to break out between both benches after a horrific tackle from Marcelo on Cesc Fabregas but, for once, Mourinho appeared calm. He was actually just biding his time.
Rather than jumping into the heat of the melee, Mourinho circled around, stuck his finger in the eye of then Barcelona assistant, the late Tito Vilanova and then retreated with a smirk on his face knowing exactly what he’d done.
Taking Out the Washing
— Toma (@ChelseaHeroToma) 2 September 2014
Potentially blinding a rival coach would be a big enough indiscretion for any manager to be remembered by. For Mourinho it just about cracks the top five list of controversial moments. He has had many run ins with the footballing authorities over the years and had all sorts of punishments but sometimes the Special One comes up with ways to get around them.
In 2005, Mourinho received a stadium ban from UEFA for falsely claiming that Barcelona manager, Frank Rijkaard, had unduly influenced the match officials by visiting the referee’s office at half time of their Champions League meeting at the Camp Nou. The stadium ban was supposed to mean that Mourinho could only watch the match against Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge on TV but he came up with tactics to work around the ban as ingenious as any he’s used on the pitch.
The Chelsea manager decided that there was no way he’d miss the quarter final tie at the Bridge so managed to get himself smuggled into the home dressing room in a laundry basket. Although the details have never been confirmed, it’s widely accepted that Mourinho gave the pre-match and half time team talks. Mourinho’s long time assistant, Rui Faria, was also spotted wearing a beanie hat which many believe concealed an ear piece while goalkeeper coach, Silvinho Louro, was spotted running down the tunnel and back out again with a piece of paper just before each of Chelsea’s three substitutions were made.
Could any other manager so obviously and outrageously flaunt a punishment in this way? We doubt it but for Jose, it’s just business as usual!
Rubbing Fergie’s Nose in It
During his time in English football, Jose Mourinho has rubbed many people up the wrong way. He’s also made a large number of friends in the game. He counts Sir Alex Ferguson as one of those allies but it’s fair to say that their relationship did not exactly get off to the best start.
One of the most impressive elements of Mourinho’s story is the way he worked his way up from footballing obscurity to become one of the game’s most successful managers of all time By the time he took control of Porto, Mourinho was already very well known in Portugal and was beginning to make waves in Europe but he was a relative unknown in English football when he took his Porto side to Old Trafford for the second leg of their Champions League semi final.
Porto were hanging tough in the latter stages of the second leg before a goalkeeping error from Tim Howard presented an opportunity that Francisco Costinha just couldn’t miss. That prompted Mourinho to sprint down the touchline, screaming and celebrating the goal that took Porto into a final that they would go on to win. It was one of the most impressive Champions League successes of all time but, like so often with Mourinho, it was his behaviour that left the lasting impression.
Breaking the Rules to Get His Man
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) 16 October 2018
Mourinho has played a starring role in an incredibly important time when much has changed in English football. The Premier League has gone from strength to strength both as a competition and as a business. Although standards have improved across the board, the fact that money increasingly talks has not always gone down well with fans and has thrown up regulatory challenges.
Take the issue of “tapping up” players as an example. As wages grew to become significantly more important to clubs and players relative to transfer fees, the authorities decided that they had to put practices into place to stop clubs and agents making direct offers to players who were under contract at another club. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mourinho was caught up in this issue as he looked to build his Chelsea team with the money provided by Roman Abramovich.
Having made it clear that he viewed Ashley Cole as his number one choice for a left back, Mourinho went out of his way to attract the England defender from Arsenal. Rather than going through the official channels or even asking agents to get things done, Mourinho took things into his own hands by meeting Cole in a London hotel.
Mourinho was found out by the authorities and was hit by a fine of £75,000. That’s a lot of money even for somebody as well paid as Mourinho but, as so often, he felt that the punishment was secondary to success and was happy to pay the price providing he got his man. Of course, that’s exactly what happened and Cole went on to win multiple trophies as a Chelsea player.
Lashing Out On His Stamford Bridge Exit
Mourinho is not the sort of manager that clubs should appoint if they are looking for a long term project. He is excellent when it comes to doing whatever it takes to win trophies but the sheer amount of effort that he puts into securing success in the short term inevitably takes a toll and can lead to frayed relationships with those around him (to put it politely).
When things started going against him at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho began lashing out at the press, other managers and even his own players. His antics reached a peak (or new low depending how you view things) during the final stages of his second spell in charge of Chelsea.
That doomed season got off to an inauspicious start when Mourinho publicly fell out with his medical staff for running onto the pitch to treat a stricken player when he was more concerned with winning the match. That ended up with club doctor, Eva Carniero, taking the club to court for unfair treatment. He had problems with officials, claiming that referees were scared of giving penalties to Chelsea and telling Jon Moss that he was “f****** soft”.
Before leaving the club under a cloud, Mourinho turned his ire towards his players. Among several examples of criticising individuals, Mourinho went as a far as to claim he was betrayed by players who he hinted had downed tools. After all the problems, Mourinho’s exit from Chelsea was just a matter of time. The question now is, is history repeating itself three years on at Manchester United?