Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Special One Indeed

Just a quick one. A few hours ago José Mourinho notched up another impressive Champions League victory as his Inter Milan side knocked out the best team in the world currently, Barcelona. The self-proclaimed 'Special One' produced another tactical master-class that would have even his most ardent Italian critics struggling not to praise him.

Inter Milan's football in this year's European competition has been far from the classy or vintage displays that you would come to expect from the Italian giants but their resolute defence has booked them a place in the final at the Bernabeu where they will meet Bayern Munich on 22nd May. 98,000 fans filled the Nou Camp to watch Mourinho's men defuse Barca's potent attacking force. They did what few other have been able to in the past two years as they managed to prevent the likes of Messi and Xavi from dictating the play. Instead, despite playing with 10 men for over an hour, Inter Milan looked comfortable as they sat back and absorbed anything and everything that the Catalan club had to offer.

Italian football has been less than welcoming to Mourinho and his outspoken approach to management which has led to the Portuguese coach to become somewhat disillusioned with life in Serie A. On the European stage, however, the Special One has displayed the sort of tactical nous that has put him at the top of every club's managerial wish-list over the past few years. Having fought their way through the group stage in a less than convincing manner Inter Milan have gone on to produce a couple of great two-legged performances against Chelsea and Barcelona and they are now comfortable favourites to lift the trophy at 8/15.

A couple of months ago it seemed likely that Mourinho would be leaving the San Siro at the end of the season but his European success will have endeared him to the home fans and surely he would now be likely to stay a little longer. Having said that, it would probably not surprise me if Mourinho won the Serie A and Champions League titles and still walked out, but I doubt it nevertheless. I would, though, love to see him return to the Premiership in the near future. Not only is he an entertaining character but he has reaffirmed his position as one of, if not the, best managers in the world with his club's European performances.

Rarely will a manager be given as much attention or credit for a team reaching the Champions League final as Mourinho will be this year but that is the nature of the man. Controversy, praise, criticism but most importantly success follows the 47-year-old to whichever club he is managing. Here are a couple of interesting statistics about Mourinho. Since 2002 he has won 15 league or cup trophies and he is currently on a run of 135 competitive home matches unbeaten which reaches back to his reign as Porto manager!

Love him or hate him, his managerial talent is unquestionable. He has won league titles in three different countries in the last six years and brought Porto the most unlikely of Champions League trophies. His tactical adaptability between different leagues in different countries or against varying opposition has delivered consistent accolades... he is like a Portuguese Iain Dowie without the charm or good looks!

Thoughts, comment and opinions please...

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