Jose Mourinho is arguably the most competitive manager in the game.
The Portuguese will go to extraordinary lengths to give his team the biggest advantage. That’s part of the reason Manchester United hired him earlier in the summer.
He’s even willing to ask his players to make sacrifices during matches.
Jerzy Dudek, who worked under Mourinho at Real Madrid, has revealed that Mourinho asked two players to get sent off in a Champions League game against Ajax in 2010.
It’s easy to see the logic. It was the penultimate group game, and both players were on yellow cards. By being sent off, and thus missing the final, pointless, group fixture, neither had the threat of suspension going into the knockout phase.
Yet it’s still a pretty big ask in the scheme of things.
Champions League clash
"During a Champions League group game against Ajax in Amsterdam I was asked by Chendo, a former Real player who became an executive, to sit next to Mourinho on the bench during the second half,” Dudek said, per the Mirror.
“We were 2-0 up, through to the next round and still had one game to play.
“Mourinho told me that if Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, who had been booked, got themselves sent off they would miss the final meaningless group game against Auxerre and have no suspensions hanging over them going into the knockout phase.
“He asked me to run down to Iker and pass on the instruction of what they needed to do.
“I nodded and jogged down the touchline with a bottle of water to pass to Casillas. ‘Iker, the boss said tell Xabi and Sergio to get another booking so they miss the next game.’
“I jogged back to the bench and noticed that Iker was whispering in Sergio’s ear. He then ran over to Xabi.
“In the 87th minute, with the score at 4-0, Xabi was given a second yellow card for time wasting. Sergio was also given a second booking for time wasting in stoppage time.”
Such was the controversy surrounding the incident that UEFA would go on to investigate.
“UEFA asked me for an explanation as to why I’d run down to the goal to see Casillas,” Dudek added.
“I told them: ‘He wasn’t feeling well so Mourinho had instructed me to see how he was feeling and if he should save a substitution to bring him off. Iker told me he was fine so I returned to the bench.’
“The UEFA disciplinary committee didn’t believe me. I was fined €5,000, Iker was fined €10,000 and Xabi and Sergio both received €20,000 fines.
"Mourinho was fined €40,000 and given a two-match ban, although this was reduced on appeal, and the club received a €120,000 fine."
Mourinho's plan worked
Dudek, who won the Champions League with Liverpool, added: “I started joking in the dressing room: ‘I won’t pay it for sure! It was the masseur’s fault that he didn’t give a bottle of water to Iker. And it’s your fault too doc, as you didn’t check whether he felt well. I am not going to do your jobs for you!’
“More importantly though, Xabi and Sergio were free to play in the knock-out stage and carried no yellow cards over.
“Mourinho’s tactics had worked and, to be honest, I really admired him for that plan.”
You can’t knock his desire.
Is Mourinho the most competitive manager in football? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!