José Mourinho is back, baby!
The ‘Special One’ is once again performing miracles (definitely not exaggerating) with his latest masterclass as Tottenham defeated Premier League champions Manchester City 2-0 in north London.
Spurs were well-drilled, energetic, and clinical in their victory over the Sky Blues, throwing us back to vintage José – to the delight of the Lilywhites faithful.
So, in homage to the Portuguese mastermind and his latest magnificent triumph, 90min takes a look at the most Mourinho-esque match from each of his managerial spells.
Quite the Introduction
Man Utd vs Porto (2002)
Back in 2002, the ‘Special One’ was handed the reins at Porto, with his appointment failing to make headlines outside of Portugal. He was an unknown quantity, a man who’d never played professional football, and anything but a big deal.
Less than two years later, Mourinho guided Os Dragões to the top of the European game, making his a household name across the continent.
One of the great shocks of the modern era, this story began with Porto escaping from a Champions League group featuring Real Madrid and Marseille, subsequently setting up a last-16 clash with Manchester United.
Benni McCarthy’s brace secured a 2-1 comeback victory in the first leg, but that was merely a prelude to the main event.
The Primeira Liga side were on the brink of elimination after Paul Scholes had but United ahead on away goals at Old Trafford. However, Costinha turned agony into ecstasy, pouncing on a Tim Howard error to steal it at the death.
Mourinho – fists pumping and eyes crazed – couldn’t contain himself, the coach charging down the touchline in celebration. His tactics had suffocated the Englishmen, keeping chances at a premium as Porto edged the aggregate score 3-2 on their way to a first Champions League crown.
Tottenham 1-2 Chelsea
Tottenham know all about Mourinho masterclasses, with their loss to Chelsea in the 2007 FA Cup one of their worst experiences against the 57-year-old.
Two goals down at home to Spurs, the Blues roared back to secure a replay, which they would go on to win 2-1. Some bold choices from José did the trick, the manager withdrawing both fullbacks, and replacing them with attack-minded players.
That left Chelsea with just two specialist defenders. It also left their opponents with a problem they simply could not solve.
Michael Essien covered the left-back position, in the sense that he sometimes drifted over to the left side of defence. Even he was more focused on bombing forward, though that was hardly an issue. Frank Lampard and Salomon Kalou came to the rescue, and Mourinho was vindicated.
Toppling the Mighty Barça
Barcelona vs Inter (2010)
When people talk about the greatest team in footballing history, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona is invariably brought into the conversation. The Catalan giants were almost untouchable at this point in time, the crucial word being ‘almost’.
They’d taken four points from their pool-stage meetings with Mourinho’s Inter in the 2009/10 Champions League, suggesting they would beat the Nerazzurri with ease when the clubs locked horns in the semis.
No chance. The Italians recovered from an early setback to take a 3-1 lead into the second leg at Camp Nou, where they survived Thiago Motta’s wrongful dismissal to advance to the final.
Inter lost 1-0 on the night, their rigidity frustrating Guardiola’s in a heroic display. One of the most talented teams ever assembled couldn’t unpick the lock, highlighting Mourinho’s outstanding tactical nous.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid (2012)
Real Madrid trumping Barcelona on their own turf is a rare occurrence. Dominating possession was Guardiola’s greatest weapon, but Mourinho turned it into a weakness in April 2012, helping the men from the capital to a priceless victory.
Los Blancos rocked up to Camp Nou knowing three points would leave them on the brink of a first La Liga title in four years. They duly saw off their rivals, the boss ordering them to use a counter-attacking style of play to punish their hosts.
It worked like a charm. Mourinho was more than happy to let Barça have the ball, provided they didn’t get it to Lionel Messi. While the Argentine was peripheral throughout the contest, Cristiano Ronaldo was the match-winner, his crisp finish sealing a seismic 2-1 triumph.
A Hazardous Night for City
Manchester City vs Chelsea (2014)
Back in 2014, Chelsea made Manchester City look like schoolboys as Eden Hazard and his Blues teammates put in a devastating performance at the Etihad Stadium.
The Belgian was very much in the mood, providing an outlet down the left flank for when the visitors retrieved possession. Pablo Zabaleta was arguably the Premier League’s best defender that campaign, yet he was hardly a speed merchant.
Hazard gave him a harrowing night, taunting the South American with mazy dribbles and an electric turn of pace. It was frightening stuff, and it proved decisive, the winger’s trickery creating a chance for Branislav Ivanović, who fired a bullet past Joe Hart for the game’s only goal.
Hello José, My Old Friend
Manchester United vs Chelsea (2017)
Strike duo Zlatan Ibrahimović and Anthony Martial were both available for Manchester United’s home encounter with Chelsea in the 2016/17 Premier League. So, Mourinho went and did a Mourinho, the Special One opting for Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard as his frontmen.
Ibrahimović had been in stellar form, but José thought energy and movement was more important against his former employers. His decision paid dividends, with Rashford wrapping up a 2-0 triumph after the break.
However, Mourinho’s genius act in this match was instructing Ander Herrera – United’s other goalscorer – to shadow Hazard.
The latter couldn’t breathe without being harassed by Herrera, who practically never left his opponent’s side. That drastically reduced the wide man’s impact, Hazard ghosting through the contest.
To top things off, United scored twice…..but officially didn’t have a shot on target throughout the game.
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