Special One or not so special? Assessing Jose Mourinho's managerial career

From the heights of a treble in Italy, to the lows of being sacked by Tottenham, Jose Mourinho’s managerial road trip has been a bumpy ride.

Jose Mourinho is on the hunt for another trophy after guiding Roma to the Europa Conference League final.

Mourinho signing Tammy Abraham scored the sole goal against Leicester City and Roma will now play Feyenoord in the inaugural final.

The Portuguese coach is adored in Rome already as he seeks to become the first manager to win the club a trophy in 14 years.

The last time Mourinho reached a final was last season in the EFL Cup but he was not able to lead his Tottenham side to Wembley against Manchester City after Daniel Levy pulled the trigger.

The jury is out as to whether he will be a success at Roma but below, we can tell you exactly how special and unspecial he has been at previous clubs.


After brief stints at Benfica and Uniao de Leiria, it was at Porto that he really started to make a name for himself.

When Mourinho took over, Porto sat fifth in the Primeira Liga and bottom of their Champions League group.

In his first season in charge, Mourinho was able to salvage the season, lifting them to a third-placed finish in the league. He then promised the fans that in the following season, "he would make them champions".

And he did just that. Porto won the league title in spectacular fashion, 11 points clear of rivals Benfica. Mourinho's Porto side also broke the record for the highest points tally in a Portguese season.

The following season, Porto replicated their league success, winning the title with five weeks remaining of the season.

However, Mourinho truly announced himself on the global stage when he lifted the 2004 Champions League. With wins over Lyon and Manchester United en route - including an iconic knee slide at Old Trafford along the way - Porto completed one of soccer's greatest underdog stories.

VERDICT: Special One


After his European success, Mourinho was a wanted man.

Chelsea and Liverpool were vying for his signature and it was the west London club, recently taken over by Roman Abramovich, that secured his services.

Before a ball was even kicked, Mourinho's entrance into English soccer was nothing short of extraordinary. In his opening press conference, he proclaimed himself as the 'Special One', a term that has been used frequently to define his managerial journey.

Mourinho's charming arrogance was reflected in his team's performances, and he propelled Chelsea towards silverware, winning both the League Cup and the Premier League in his first season in charge.

In the following 2005/06 campaign, Mourinho continued his hot streak, winning Chelsea's second, and his fourth, consecutive domestic title. Love him or loathe him, you couldn't deny he was box office.

The 2006/07 season was one of continued success for Mourinho, but it was also the beginning of the end for his time at Chelsea.

Despite winning both the League Cup and FA Cup against Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, Mourinho's relationship with Abramovich started to fray.

The appointment of Avram Grant as Director of Football seemed to be the final nail in a Mourinho-shaped coffin, and he subsequently left the club by mutual consent.

With six trophies in three years, Mourinho left as the club's most successful manager.

VERDICT: Special One

Inter Milan

Following his departure from Chelsea, Mourinho was appointed as the successor to Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan.

In his first season in charge, Mourinho returned to winning ways on the domestic front, topping Serie A by ten points.

But, after being knocked out by Manchester United in the Champions League round-of-16, Mourinho's first season at the helm was considered by many to be slightly underwhelming.

However, Mourinho reacted to the criticism in spectacular fashion. The following season, Mourinho guided his Inter side to three separate finals and within a frantic 20 days, won them all.

Winning the Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League, Mourinho achieved the treble, a feat never before managed in Italy.

VERDICT: Special One

Real Madrid

Mourinho's spell at Real Madrid struggled to scale the heights he achieved at Porto and Inter Milan.

He was brought in to challenge Barcelona's dominance in Spain but, with a young Lionel Messi leading the line for their rivals and Pep Guardiola in the hot seat, it was always going to be a big ask.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Sergio Ramos at his disposal, Mourinho didn't lack the talent for a fight.

He did have some success at Real. In his first season, his side defeated Barcelona in the Copa Del Ray to end Madrid's 18-year drought in the competition. The following season, he also won the Spanish League title, breaking the goals record in the process.

But after failing to progress from three consecutive Champions League semi-finals, Madrid fans started to turn on Mourinho and his constant battle with the press took its toll.

In his final season at the club, Mourinho won the Supercup, making him the first manager to win all available domestic trophies in four different European leagues. But his relationship with club president Florentino Perez, the fans and the media was at a low ebb.

Eventually, after suffering what Mourinho called the "worst season of his career" in 2012/13, Madrid announced they had parted ways with the Portuguese via 'mutual consent'.

Despite statistically having been one of Real Madrid's best managers, Mourinho was pushed out of the club having failed to break Barcelona's Spanish stranglehold and without having delivered the Champions League. It left a bitter taste.

VERDICT: Not So Special


After his Real Madrid team was knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in the 2012/13 Champions League, Mourinho stated in his press conference that he was "loved by some clubs, especially one. In Spain it's different".

And after alluding to his strong feelings for Chelsea, their love affair was rekindled in 2013 when he was reappointed as their manager.

His return to Stamford Bridge starting off rockily, with his dropping and eventual selling of two-time player of the season Juan Mata failing to sit well with fans.

And, after finishing third in what Mourinho called a "transitional" season, it looked like it their former boss might be suffering a case of unrequited love.

But after bringing in a plethora of star signings, including Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Thibaut Courtois, Mourinho once again brought the League Cup and Premier League trophies back to Stamford Bridge. Everything was going according to plan.

Well, that is until the car crash of a season that followed. In the opening game of the 2015/16 season, Mourinho clashed with club doctor Eva Carneiro regarding her treatment of Eden Hazard.

It was the catalyst for Mourinho's downfall. As the media furore continued to engulf them, they lost nine of their 16 Premier League matches. Mourinho was sacked, despite Abramovich claiming he left on "good terms".

VERDICT: Not So Special

Manchester United

After being frequently linked with the Manchester United job following Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, in 2016, Mourinho finally got his chance.

And in fairness, it started well. United had been struggling to reach the heights of the Ferguson era following his departure and Mourinho's track record of silverware seemed the perfect fit.

He won the Community Shield against Leicester in his first game in charge before a 3-2 win against Southampton in the League Cup and a 2-0 success over Ajax in the Europa League handed him further honours.

His 'treble' celebrations reeked slightly of desperation, and inevitably resulted in a barrage of criticism, but all in all, it was still an applaudable achievement.

However, in the following season, Mourinho finished second in the league behind cross-town rivals Manchester City and claimed it was among his top achievements in management.

Paired with a FA Cup final loss to his former Chelsea side and a disappointing exit in the Champions League against Sevilla, Mourinho's antics and comments started to frustrate United fans.

The following season saw more outbursts in the Press, with Mourinho demanding "respect" after suffering his worst ever home loss in a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

After just seven wins from their opening 17 Premier League matches in 2017/18, Mourinho was sacked.

VERDICT: Not So Special


Jose Mourinho

After taking almost a year out of management, Mourinho returned to the limelight as Tottenham manager following the dismissal of Mauricio Pochettino.

In 2015, the Portuguese manager had claimed he'd "never manage Tottenham out of respect for Chelsea", so his tenure in north London was already met with suspicion.

But with Spurs trophyless since their League Cup success in 2008, owner Daniel Levy was willing to try anything to bring silverware back to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

After lifting Spurs to sixth in his first season, Mourinho started the 2020/21 campaign well. He guided Spurs to the top of the table, recording a 6-1 win over his former Manchester United side along the way.

However, after a hectic winter schedule, the wheels fell off. A 5-4 defeat to Everton in the FA Cup was quickly followed by an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.

Mourinho did, however, steer Spurs to the League Cup final after beating Brentford. With his astounding record in the competition, Spurs fans were hopeful their 13-year wait for a trophy was about to end.

But after a string of negative results, Mourinho was sacked in April, just a week before the cup final. To make matters worse, Tottenham went on to suffer a tame 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in the showpiece.

It was the first time since 2002 that Mourinho had departed a club without winning them a trophy.

VERDICT: Not So Special

READ MORE: Mohamed Salah looking for 'revenge' against Real Madrid in Champions League final

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