Mourinho the Malevolent: How Jose Mourinho destroys careers in his quest for trophies

Filed under Italy, Premier League, Spain, Transfers

While the ink dries on star attacking midfielder Juan Mata’s shiny new club record deal at Manchester United, confused Chelsea supporters will have felt hard done by manager Jose Mourinho’s frequent exclusion of the player from the first team this season, and even more perturbed by the “Happy One’s” decision to sell the Spaniard to a league rival.

Many at Stamford Bridge will lament the loss of such a proven talent, and under normal circumstances, their disappointment would be vindicated. This, however, is Jose Mourinho’s team, where every player is expected to run themselves into the ground without concern for his health or future career; and where those who won’t are relegated to the bench, or else discarded faster than an awkward handshake with Arsene Wenger.

With Mourinho it has always been a double-edged sword.

The manager has proven time-and-again his ability to coax the best out of willing players. And it is precisely Mourinho’s ability to motivate cooperative veterans and eager youngsters alike, that has led to frequent successes in Portugal, England, Spain, and Italy.

Sometimes, though, as in the case of Wesley Sneidjer, Joe Cole, Michael Essien, Kaka, Xabi Alonso, and Diego Milito, the frenetic pace and intense training demands have compromised player’s health and long-term careers. Yet fail to do things Mourinho’s way, and you will quickly find yourself on the way out. Countless players, from Andriy Shevshenko, to Ricardo Quaresma, to Kaka, to Mesut Ozil, Gonzalo Higuain and more recently Romelu Lukaku found themselves ignored because of their more selfish style of play or unwillingness to track back. You have to believe that Mourinho’s well publicized post-Madrid gripe with Cristiano Ronaldo also had something to do with the player’s sole focus on offense. And if you’re ignored, resigned to the bench, or even worse, the reserves squad, you could lose confidence, as appeared to be the case with Mata.

It was clear to see, that despite Mata’s model public behavior and verbal commitment to Chelsea, he simply was not enjoying his football (or the bench) under Mourinho. On Jan. 1, Mata clearly expressed his frustration at being subbed off after 53 relatively ineffective minutes against a stubborn Southampton team, a match that Chelsea eventually won 3-0. Such is the danger for Manchester United fans, and indeed Vicente del Bosque, who will be counting on Juan Mata’s creativity and confidence, should Andres Iniesta or Cesc Fabrigas find themselves bossed out of matches at the 2014 World Cup.

The truth is that Mourinho’s fast pressing, counter-attacking, high tempo system was unsuited to Mata’s elegant, more patient style of play. In that sense, perhaps he would have been more suited to Arsenal or Roberto Martinez’s attractive new project at Everton. A player of Mata’s caliber, however, who not only won Chelsea’s Player-of-the-Season award twice in succession, but managed to score 12 goals and assist a further 17 last season, deserves first team football.

Every manager knows that there are certain players who he can always count on. These are players who fit the coach’s philosophy and playing style and who he can always trust to carry out a job on the pitch. In Mourinho’s case, that has frequently involved physical specimens who can combine speed, strength, and decent technical abilities, but who more than anything are willing to sacrifice their bodies for the cause.

And so it was that Mourinho put on his best political act, claiming first that Mata “still had an important part to play for the team” and later that it was a “difficult decision to sell him.” Mata’s lack of playing time and his recent behavior on the pitch, however tell another story. Clearly, he is not the first player to be ignored by Mourinho, nor will he be the last. Yet it will be his ability to recover his confidence that will determine his performance for his new employers, as well as his contributions for Spain at this summer’s World Cup.

Write for us

If you like to discuss the game and want to write for us, get in touch now. Click here!