8 February ~ He is tactically brilliant, unbeatable in mind games and capable of overcoming any opponent on his day, but José Mourinho is not the best manager in the world. If reports suggesting he will leave the Bernabéu this summer are true, it would, in the long-term at least, be a mistake for any Premier League club to take him on. The first and most often excused problem with Mourinho as a manager is that he is a trouble maker. He might argue that his antics distract from his players and benefit his team, but there is a limit to this logic.
When a manager blames himself or, more likely, the referee for a disappointing result, the team could well benefit from the deflected attention. When a manager uses elaborate mind games to give his side a psychological advantage over the opposition, that can be good as well. But winding up opposition supporters, being regularly sent to the stands for bad behaviour and even involving yourself in player brawls – slapping faces and pulling ears – is something quite different. It is hard to see how these types of incidents can be for the good of the team.
On a deeper level, Mourinho has proven himself shortsighted as a manager. Winning the League twice for Chelsea was great, but the club was left in a mess when he departed. This was not just because they were landed with an inferior manager, but because the team was developed in an unsustainable manner. In just over three years, Mourinho spent over £200 million on 23 players, just four of whom were 21 years old or younger. He sold over ten academy-team products and left an ageing timebomb of a squad. The squad has had some success since, but without regular large reinvestment, has generally been declining in quality since its peak in the Mourinho era.
Mourinho's worst attribute is his inability to commit. He has worked across six different clubs since his managerial career began in 2000, spending an average of two years at each. Maybe he did not expressly ask to leave each of his clubs – he is widely believed to have been shoved from Chelsea under a veil of "mutual consent" – but he has issues getting along with colleagues and not jumping ship.
It has long been rumoured that Mourinho's intention is to return to the Premier League. No doubt this would be greeted with great excitement from the club concerned. But should there be? Yes, he is a brilliant manager, but he is not without his flaws. Doing well for two years is all very well, but what comes after that? Mourinho may have achieved a lot, but he is yet to prove himself as a long-term manager. William Turvill