Five examples that dispel the Mourinho myth
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has come under scrutiny after he deployed negative tactics in the hotly anticipated game against bitter rivals Liverpool last weekend. In his previous ten encounters with last season’s top five, the Portuguese boss has failed to pick up a single victory. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ has been labelled as a manager who fails to deliver in the big matches against tougher opposition. Following United’s comfortable victory over Portuguese champions Benfica on Wednesday night, it’s finally time to dispel the Mourinho myth and look back at his most impressive victories against the top teams.
Manchester United vs Chelsea, Premier League, 2004-05
After Mourinho had led the Blues to their first ever Premier League title in his debut campaign, Chelsea travelled to Old Trafford in May to face Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. While there was nothing at stake in this match, United were set to face Arsenal in the FA Cup final weeks later which meant that players knew there was pressure to perform to earn a starting place. The hosts took the lead through talisman Ruud van Nistelrooy but Chelsea showed their winning mentality and bounced back in style, with midfielder Tiago producing a stunning long-range effort. The champions strolled through the second half and goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole highlighted the gulf in class on the night, and throughout that campaign. In his first league match encounter with Ferguson at Old Trafford, Mourinho’s side came away with an impressive 3-1 victory.
Liverpool vs Chelsea, Premier League, 2005-06
Didier Drogba produced one of his finest performances in a Chelsea shirt against then-European Cup holders Liverpool at Anfield. This was a huge match as Mourinho was still seething over the previous year’s Champions League semi-final loss where the Reds triumphed with a contentious goal from Luis Garcia. Frank Lampard got the Blues off to the perfect start from the penalty spot, before Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard smashed a stunning strike to equalise moments later. However, Drogba took center stage and provided three classy assists for teammates Damien Duff, Joe Cole and Geremi, as Chelsea came away from Merseyside with a sensational 4-1 victory. It was arguably Mourinho’s most emphatic Premier League victory on the road against a traditional giant.
AC Milan vs Inter Milan, Serie A, 2009-10
After slumping to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Bari on the opening day of the season, the Milan derby was next up for Mourinho’s men. Faced with a team containing the talents of Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta, this was a daunting task. However, the Portuguese boss masterminded an ingenious game plan which saw Inter sweep aside their local rivals. Thiago Motta opened the scoring with a fantastic team goal before Diego Milito scored a quick second from the penalty spot. Milan’s hot-headed midfielder Gennaro Gattuso was shown a second yellow card before full-back Maicon sealed the three points before the interval. Dejan Stankovic produced the goal of the match with a beautiful long-range effort that saw Mourinho lead his team to an emphatic 4-0 victory against bitter rivals Milan.
Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid, La Liga, 2011-12
Although Diego Simeone had just taken the reigns at Atletico Madrid, this was still a tough encounter for Mourinho’s Real Madrid side who were in pole position to secure their first La Liga title in four years. Los Blancos travelled to the old Vicente Calderon knowing they needed to come away with a victory to pile the pressure on rivals Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the show in this Madrid derby opening the scoring with a sensational long-range free-kick which left Thibaut Courtois stranded. The hosts replied in the second-half with Radamel Falcao producing a great header to equalise, but Real showed the spirit of champions and outplayed their local rivals. Ronaldo retook the lead with an outrageous strike from distance before securing his hat-trick from the penalty spot moments later. Jose Callejon put the icing on the cake and secured an emphatic 4-1 win which went a long way towards helping Mourinho secure his fourth league title in four different countries.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid, Copa del Rey, 2012-13
One of Mourinho’s sweetest moments as Real Madrid boss came in this Copa del Rey semi-final second leg at the Camp Nou. The two bitter enemies had played out a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the first encounter, and given that the Catalan club had dumped Madrid out of the competition the previous season, Mourinho was determined to have the last laugh. Although the hosts enjoyed most of the possession, Madrid looked the most threatening, and took the lead through a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. At the time, Mourinho’s team were known for being deadly on the counter attack, and Ronaldo doubled his tally following a wonderful run from teammate Angel di Maria who turned Barcelona skipper Carles Puyol inside out. The Portuguese boss was in dreamland when youngster Raphael Varane produced a stunning header from a corner to make it 3-0 on the night. Barcelona full back Jordi Alba scored a late consolation but Madrid, alongside Bayern Munich, were the only teams to score three times at the Camp Nou that season.