Whether you like him or not, there’s no denying that Jose Mourinho is an extremely smart man who knows football inside out.
Unlike the vast majority of football managers, the Portuguese tactician didn’t play professionally to a particularly high level.
However, the multi-lingual Mourinho eventually found himself working as Sir Bobby Robson’s translator at Barcelona, where he impressed the English coach with his incredible knowledge of the game.
He then got his big break at Benfica, before moving on to União de Leiria and then FC Porto, where he established his status as the world’s most exciting young manager by winning the Champions League.
The rest, as they say, is history.
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Mourinho would provide extremely detailed scouting reports to Robson during his time at the Camp Nou and continued to provide dossiers with details on opposing teams for his players at future clubs, including Chelsea.
One of those dossiers has been posted on social media. It’s a report before the Champions League clash between Mourinho’s Chelsea and Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona from the 2005-06 season and it makes for fascinating reading.
Mourinho’s report features detailed analysis about every aspect of Barça’s style of play: offensive and defensive organisation, offensive and defensive transition, set plays and a section called ‘Individual Appreciation’ in which he gives his verdict on all of the opposition players - their strengths, weaknesses and other traits.
Here are some of the highlights…
On Carles Puyol: “Aggressive but very emotional. Gets crazy with the referee in fouls against him and goes mad in provocations. Aggressive defender, plays in anticipation using body. Bad positional sense (comes to midfield with striker) and bad leadership of defence (wants to do offside when it’s not possible). Because he uses his body strength to regain possession we can provocate contacts in the final third or outside the box. Good heading ability and power.”
Blimey. It seems Mourinho didn’t rate Puyol particularly highly back then.
On Oleguer (and this is damning): “Makes mistakes with the ball making him ideal target for pressure. Defensively poor, has no pace and chooses his timings of the tackle poorly. When he tries to recover it is too late. No Speed, ideal to kill in diagonals.”
Mourinho clearly felt Oleguer was Barcelona’s weak-link.
On Andres Iniesta: “Always comes on from the bench. Very dynamic player. Great radius of action. Speed of movement and speed of execution. Tricky player.”
On Ronaldinho: “Technical quality to avoid defender on first touch. When opened receives the ball and the attacks full-back 1 vs 1 (inside to shoot or outside to cross). Much more dangerous when provocating spaces inside (between lines) from those positions forces a central defender out and then with a pen. pass releases Messi, Eto’o or the penetrating midfielder. Very poor defensive transition and defensive work - exploit. Constant cheater - falls easily.”
That last sentence - wow.
On Lionel Messi: “Quality + speed but very left footed. Exactly the same behaviours as Ronaldinho. Inside between lines or diagonals. Encourages team forward by ball driving. Amazing 1 vs 1. If option is to foul him it’s important to do it outside the box and as early as possible. [Has] recovered from an injury recently.”
In the 'Offensive Organisation' section, Mourinho finishes his section on Messi with the word: "Fouls!".
No wonder Chelsea’s players tried to kick Messi out the game on that occasion.
On Samuel Eto’o (who Mourinho later signed for Chelsea): “Explosive and aggressive with or without the ball. Skills in tight spaces. Chases, believes and keeps high-intensity rhythm throughout all game.”
All very interesting stuff.
You can view the rest of Mourinho’s scouting report here…