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Can Jose Mourinho Rise to the Top of European Football Again?

In the annals of football history, there are few figures that stand taller and brighter than the Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho. Across the span of his stunning 20-year career, Mourinho has managed some of the biggest clubs in the world, with Chelsea, Real Madrid, and to a lesser extent, Man United being the jewels in his crown. 

Mourinho’s credentials as a successful coach barely need repeating, but let’s go through them anyway. Mourinho has won the Champions League with not one, but two clubs. He has won the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the UEFA Cup multiple times apiece, and has been nominated Coach of the Year by FIFA more times than we can count. There are also the league titles across four countries as well. 

So, what happened? Despite his glittering career that is virtually without parallel, Mourinho now finds himself on the periphery of European football. So, will he ever make a comeback, and is he in the right place to currently do so? Let’s dive in and try to figure it out.

The Rise and Fall of Mourinho 

There is no football fan alive on Earth today that would describe Mourinho as under-hyped. As we have seen, he is one of the most decorated and celebrated coaches in history. However, these accolades do not simply belong to Mourinho because he was fortunate enough to coach some legendary clubs just as they were coming into their own. 

Rather, Mourinho took his unique coaching style and used it to mold some floundering teams with prestigious names, turning them back into Europe’s most fearsome clubs. After cutting his teeth at Porto, where he left a trail of devastation in his wake after taking a virtually unknown backwater club to the top of the UEFA Champions League. 

After this, the biggest clubs in Europe came a-knocking. His stretches at Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid were arguably the best decade for any football coach in history ever. Mourinho’s defensive coaching style and emphasis on nurturing the talent of the youngest players, rather than letting them sit on the sidelines, helped birth some of Europe’s best and most legendary players and conferred true legendary status on Mourinho. 

So, what happened? The troubles began for Mourinho following a dismal 2015-16 season at Chelsea, where the club, which had been crowned the Premier League champions just a year earlier, was left trailing after winning just 9 out of 16 matches. Mourinho was promptly signed by Manchester United where things went from bad to worse. 

Despite a strong start, 2018 would go down as Mourinho’s annus horribilis, with several of the worst performances of his career. Following a terrible start to the season, Mourinho was unceremoniously sacked to little resistance. How the mighty had fallen. 

Will Tottenham Be the Staging Point of a Mourinho Comeback?  

In the year following Mourinho’s sacking from Manchester United – which some pundits thought to be unnecessarily harsh for a coach that has still brought the club to the top of the league several times – it started to look like we had seen the last of Mourinho. However, in October 2019 it was revealed that he had signed with Tottenham Hotspur on a £15 million a year contract. 

So, will this be where the big Mourinho comeback is set to take place? There is a lot to be said about this theory. For one, Tottenham has nowhere near the same level of titles and prestige as his previous alma maters. This leaves Mourinho with plenty of space to move up and make his mark. 

Take for example Leicester’s legendary victory in 2016, which made the careers of everyone involved. As the football betting site Asiabet.org explains, the odds of Leicester winning the league at the time were so small that, if someone had bet £10 on Leicester’s victory at the start of the 2015-16 season, they would have won as much as £50,000. This is because many bookies were putting the odds of Leicester winning the league at a mere 5000/1. Tottenham’s odds are somewhat lower than that, but the level of competition is high, with Pep Guardiola’s Man City the current team to beat and they are not among the favourites in the outright markets. 

Leicester, much like Tottenham Hotspur today, was a good club that was far from great. What is needed was the guidance of stellar management to nurture its young talent and take it to the very top. Fortunately, this is exactly what Mourinho specialises in. 

If Mourinho is able to apply some of his old magic to Tottenham and turn them into a force to be reckoned with as he did with Chelsea, Inter, and Real, he could find himself back at the winner’s table at the very top of European football.  

Whether Mourinho’s stint at Tottenham will be a gamechanger for his career remains to be seen. We’ll be watching with bated breath.  

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