Had he retired, taken over a national team coach, or stopped deserving after so long on the road, Jose Mourinho would still be one of the greatest coaches in football history. But he wasn’t in the mood for any of that. At 59, since his 2000 squad, he was still hungry for more. Perhaps in parallel to seek some kind of redemption. A different meaning to a profession that has always been about winning, winning, winning at any cost. Didn’t he, in the process, end up winning again?
Title arrangement is a great bar table exercise, but it doesn’t actually serve much good. Each has its value. Winning the Champions League with Porto is massive. Inter’s fast in Europe was very long. Chelsea are in the Premier League too. He dominated the Premier League for two years like few others. Guardiola’s streak broke in the Spanish league with 100 points. Even Manchester United’s accomplishments have been a rare respite during a difficult post-Ferguson era.
The Conference League, the third most important tournament in European football, may seem secondary, but it must be put in context. It was not a consolation prize for one person from the group stage of the European League for example, because they will inevitably do so at some point. Rome made it a target, and in doing so gave it more importance. It was their first title since 2008 and the only one in a European competition under the UEFA banner, although the 1961 Fair Cities Cup could not be ignored.
The fact itself, breaking the fast, and the rarity of making ardent Papists cry hero, is a feat. But the most relevant thing to walking was the way it happened. Mourinho was not against everything and everyone. There was no enemy, despite some complaints against arbitration because you can’t fight your nature either. Jose Mourinho was purer, with his arm in the stands and with the players, trying to find something special in the environment in which he is inserted.
The season has seen its ups and downs. He even softened the act a little more. Not even the world’s most weighty person can keep his cool after beating Bodo/Glimt 6-1 – or opening 3-1 against Juventus 20 minutes from the end and still manage to lose. In previous actions, direct criticism of the players in the tone he adopted preceded a complete disaster, but this time Mourinho managed to keep the dressing room. If anything, it has become increasingly unified, closed around the conference campaign and what can be achieved in Serie A.
He is far from being tactically illiterate. He understands a lot about football and organizes his teams according to his idea of a game that does not suit everyone’s taste. But even in his prime, that wasn’t why he stood out. His strength was persuading players to sacrifice their lives for him. Leave them there with confidence, and brandish your resume like a sword. For various reasons, this gradually stopped working. A little less in the second period with Chelsea, and even less at Manchester United, it didn’t really work out at Tottenham.
I worked in Rome. Probably because it’s a more needy club, without any malice. The club that had to learn to value the experience of being more than just the experience of winning, the experience of being Jose Mourinho’s club is still a whirlpool of emotions, good and bad, good and bad, a continental title and a 6-1 title. Bodo / Glimt. Thus, a symbiosis arose between the stands, the team and the technical staff. A family was created, as he celebrated after qualifying for the Conference League Final.
For the first time since leaving Porto, he didn’t have to hand over any titles. It wasn’t even a place in the Champions League that was mandatory. It’s been a long time since Mourinho celebrated sixth really as a good start because there was a certain consensus that with his resources it would have been difficult to achieve more. Not even at Tottenham it was like that. He was appointed because he was the coach with a winning approach that would lead the base left by Mauricio Pochettino to conquests and it was financially necessary to return to the main European competition. Of course, Roma have conditions and should also aim to play them, but the pressure is less. So young that she allowed Mourinho to relax a bit, and the result was… a nickname.
The euphemism argument is wrong on both sides. Mourinho is not one of the best coaches in the world because he was ten years ago and it is not a farce because he entered a different stage of his career where he cannot constantly compete at the highest level. He’s both a giant figure in football history, and whatever he does in the future will be at the top of any list of the greatest coaches ever when he retires, who has been relegated to the second or third division at this point – and if you have the energy, there’s nothing to stop you from Try to get back to the top.
The lesson he learned in Rome, and which he may have always known deep down, is that whether he is the best in the world or not, whether he is in the richest and most popular clubs, it is always possible to stir up emotions, turning the game into a special moment that people will never forget. He still has that ability, and he shouldn’t be in the Champions League final. As young people say these days, football is all about that.