‘Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European Champion and I think I’m a special one.’
This was Jose Mourinho’s famous declaration upon joining Chelsea FC in June of 2004. He’d arrived England on the back of an astonishing success at Porto, in Portugal. His coy, ‘please don’t call me arrogant’ assertion was immediately contradicted with the introduction of the conjunction, but, ‘but I am European Champion, and I think I’m a Special One.’
This conceited declaration of himself as the ‘Special One’ would go on to define Mourinho throughout his unfolding career; arrogance and sheer bravado would form the basis of his press conferences. His vivacious antics, his love for storytelling, his knack for the dramatic, his ability to wind up his opponents, would woo the British press and fans and by the end of his first spell at Chelsea, he would have lodged himself firmly in the hearts of the British media.
Mourinho may be the darling of British press and of course Chelsea fans, but he is definitely not everyone’s of cup of tea. He is gathering for himself an increasing number of haters, detractors, enemies. During his first spell as Chelsea manager Mourinho adopted an unnecessarily antagonistic relationship towards the managers of the top four clubs at the time. He had a running feud with Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger, and he has had fall-outs with Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini and many more.
Mourinho belittles everything that doesn’t include him. During his time away from Chelsea, he claimed that Chelsea did not make any real progress, even though they won the Champions league under Robert De Matteo in his absence. He dug at Carlo Ancellotti’s nerves so deep and so much that the usually not-easily provoked Ancellotti was provoked to the extent that he jibed at Mourinho in his autobiography, referring to him mockingly as ‘His Mourinhoness.
Last season he labelled Arsene Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’ and riled him until an exasperated Wenger advised him to try improving his respect for his colleagues.
He taunted Manchester City throughout last season and poked fun and jibes at the amiable Mr Pellegrini. At this year’s Chelsea’s end-of-season awards dinner Mourinho mocked Chelsea’s top-four rivals – Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United – with a tongue-in-cheek speech.
It is true that Mourinho’s tactical successes and trophies are not in doubt. In his first spell in England, he led Chelsea to their first premier league title in 50years. He retained the league title in his second year and completed a double league cup win in his 3rd year. At inter Milan, his next stop after Chelsea, Mourinho won the Serie A in his first year, and completed a treble of the Serie A, Coppa Italia cup, and the UEFA Champions league cup. He signed with Real Madrid in 2010 and won the Copa Del Rey in his first year and the La Liga in his second year.
There are, however, some who argue that Mourinho’s incredible success is largely aided by his ability to spend. From his first spell at Chelsea in 2004, to his present time at Chelsea, and the two clubs in-between, Mourinho has spent a staggering £566.1m. Yes! Half a billion pounds should definitely buy success.
Despite all of his successes, Mourinho remains a thorn in the flesh of many. His ability to win trophies is utterly remarkable, but so is his ability to burn bridges. In his first coming at Chelsea, he left amidst rumours of a break down in relationship between him and Chelsea owner. In 2013, after a rather turbulent relationship with the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Madrid press, and a particularly his alienation of Madrid legend Iker Casillas and some other big names, Mourinho declared that he was hated in Spain, but loved in England.
Chelsea fans accord him a rare allegiance, synonymous with that accorded to religious figure, while the British press place him in a pedestal all of his own; a pedestal, where he basks under the glare of media attention, soaks himself in the opportunities it provides, and elapses almost always into temporary states of narcissistic parentheses.
Mourinho may be famous and admired for his exacting loyalty, his array of trophies, his unbelievable successes, but he is also known for his mind games, his cruel jokes, and his general disregard of anything not Jose.