Football

Toppling Barcelona more than special for Mourinho

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Mourinho is likely to edge our Guardiola this term. (©GettyImages)
Mourinho is likely to edge our Guardiola this term. (©GettyImages).

Having won six league titles, six domestic cups, two European Cups and the UEFA Cup over a 12-year managerial career, Jose Mourinho has little more to achieve in club management.

Success has followed Mourinho like, in his case, a good suit since beginning his career in management.

So often craving the limelight, his time at Real Madrid has seen him forced to live in the shadow Pep Guardiola's Barcelona.

For a manager who has fought off the might of Arsenal's 'Invicibles' and temporarily displaced Manchester United as the kings of English football, you'd think few challenges could flummox the 49-year-old.

In Barcelona, a team as brilliant as any we've seen since the multi-European Cup winning Madrid team of the 50s, Mourinho has encountered a force that has baffled and frustrated him at every turn.

Last season's quintet of matches yielded just one win, and Mourinho's only piece of silverware since taking over at the Bernabeu, in the Copa Del Rey.

However, humiliation in the league at the Nou Camp and further disappointment over two legs in the Champions League eclipsed his sole achievement during a debut season in Spain.

Madrid could only watch on as Barcelona completed the double, outclassing Manchester United at Wembley following their La Liga triumph.

But a new season has brought renewed optimism. Mourinho made few decisive additions in the summer, while Pep Guardiola brought in Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez.

August's Super Cup double-header suggested that at least in matches between the two, the gap had been cut. But, Madrid's task of matching Barca's unerring consistency was to be their target if they were to claim the title.

It was that exact consistency which had allowed Guardiola's side to thrill, while also churning out successive wins. Barca have been bereft of that exact quality this season though, with their toils on their travels particularly alarming.

As a result, Madrid, who have won 19 of their 22 games this term, have opened up a 10-point lead at the top, leading many to declare the title race in Spain to be as good as over.

With Barca officials having already confirmed their attention has now turned to becoming the first side in the Champions League era to retain the European Cup, Madrid could well waltz to the title prior to April's meeting at the Nou Camp.

If, as expected, Mourinho is successful in claiming a domestic title in the fourth different country that he's managed then where, in among his deluge of honours, does it sit?

Given the truly awesome size of opposition, the class of Guardiola and the brilliance of Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, not to mention a spending power that is not that inferior to that of Madrid, then it represents as great an achievement that Mourinho is ever likely to earn during his managerial tenure.

At Porto, Mourinho was blessed with inheriting a team ready made for further glory and provided the finishing touch to a side already possessing the likes of Victor Baia, Ricardo Carvalho and Deco, winning the treble, including the UEFA Cup, in his first full season in charge.

Winning the European Cup the following season, despite coming at a barren time for Europe's heavyweights, is his most impressive achievement to date and helped earn him a birth at Chelsea.

Winning the Blues their first title in 50 years, and temporarily usurping Sir Alex Ferguson's United as English football's dominant force, was largely regarded as the true test of his managerial ability, but his inability to claim a European trophy, to the distain of owner Roman Abramovich, marred his time in west London.

His spell at Inter Milan - coming at a low in Italian football - albeit crowned with another European Cup, was dominated by Mourinho's constant bickering with the press, which eventually led to his departure to Spain.

Little will blight his success this season though. Barca have shown few signs of entering the twilight of their brilliance, and with the club's financial power not a decisive factor, Mourinho can revel in having out-managed his great advisory Guardiola.

If we truly believe every accolade we lay at Barcelona's feet, then anyone who overcomes them in their current guise must also be praised to the heavens. The Special One deserves no different.

Topics:
Deco
European News
Football
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