There’s a debate to be had over whether Jose Mourinho is still one of the best managers in the world.
The Portuguese coach hasn’t won a trophy since 2017 and his win percentage at Tottenham Hotspur was 51.16%, the lowest at any club since he managed Uniao de Leiria in 2001/02.
The perception of Mourinho has changed from one of a man who brought much entertainment to the game to one who clashes with his players and leaves every club on a sour note.
But we will never forget about his accomplishments, either.
You don’t win the treble with two different clubs, along with league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, without being a very, very clever coach.
Mourinho’s moments of tactical magic
Mourinho is a tactical genius whose game management and ability to adapt to different situations is elite.
Inter Milan’s 3-1 win over Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League semi-finals was a Mourinho masterclass. And who can forget Ander Herrera’s man-making job on Eden Hazard during Man United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea in 2017?
“To win the game, we couldn’t let him touch the ball,” Herrera later reflected in an interview with The Athletic.
“I told him: ‘Jose, I’m ready if you need me to mark him, if he wants to go to the bathroom, I’ll follow him.’”
Mourinho’s analysis of Arsenal’s front three
Fans were treated to see how Mourinho’s mind works when he appeared as a pundit on Sky Sports in 2019.
Mourinho was charged with analysing the north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham on September 1, 2019. The game finished 2-2, with the Gunners coming back from 2-0 down to draw thanks to goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
After the game, Mourinho provided an expert analysis of Arsenal’s front three, which also included Nicolas Pepe, and how then-manager Unai Emery could get the best out of them.
His analysis lasted more than two minutes and there was silence in the studio when he stopped speaking.
Mourinho discussed some of the options available to Emery to get Arsenal’s attack ticking, including playing two sitting midfielders and a No.10 to feed the front men or bringing Pepe in more from the right to create chances with his left foot.
“At Arsenal, Lacazette doesn’t have that quality, but they have two options,” Mourinho said.
“One is to play, instead of like today with three midfield players almost in a straight line, to play how they played in the last 10 or 20 minutes with two [sitting midfielders] and one No.10 that can feed the three without bringing Lacazette in between the lines.
“Another situation that is very possible is to bring Pepe from the right and in many occasions bring him to the inside. Many teams nowadays defend with a back four but build with three in the back, and by doing that they can put for example a right-back completely wide almost as a winger and bring the winger to the inside.
“So if Pepe plays more on the inside, he can feed more that diagonal to Lacazette and do what Guendouzi did for the last goal [for Aubameyang], Pepe doing that from the right with his left foot finding Lacazette on the diagonal.”
That level of insight is reserved only for the brightest football minds.
It nearly makes you wonder how the Gunners might look with Mourinho at the helm…
Fans were left in awe after watching it.