What makes a great manager? Is it longevity and loyalty to a club and the ability to bring success in that area? Is it merely winning games? Is it creating teams that play memorable football over a number of years? Is it about winning trophies?
It could be all of these, or just a few. For me having enjoyed football for over 25 years, if I were to restrict great football managers to this time I would be hard pressed to find a better manager than Jose Mourinho. Sure, Sir Alex Ferguson has built a colossus in Manchester United for virtually most of the time I enjoyed football. Yet Mourinho’s record in barely a decade of management is simply outstanding. Whose record can compare with it?
I watched this recently and to see his success from Porto to Chelsea to Inter Milan and now at Real Madrid is the trail of a man who embodies the concept of the winning mentality. Now I loved Capello’s Milan and he did win in Spain, but Mourinho’s record is still better. Then you have the likes of Trapattoni or Van Gaal, huge coaches on the European scene. Still, however, the Portuguese genius just beats them all.
The likes of Wenger cannot really come in the same category because of their lack of impact on the European scene – sure he’s done well for English football, but what has he won in Europe? How many European finals has he been to? And you want him to be considered up with the all time greats? Nah.
I went on record with my colleagues in saying that Real Madrid will win La Liga this year. The race is not over yet, there’s still a way to go before it’s all finished. I still hold to the belief that Madrid can do it, and who is to say that they won’t compete as well in the Champions League too. I believe all of this not because of the great players in the team, but because of the manager.
He gets criticised for his abrasive encounters at times and his appearance of being arrogant, but I look beyond this and see the overwhelming positive elements about him. An outstanding and brave tactician, a keen motivator, a considerably gifted coach, a marvellous man-manger – great copy for the press and a charismatic personality. He says he wants to go back to England, I’m not impressed with the English media as a whole, but I certainly hope he’s made to feel welcome if he returns and wherever he goes I would want him to continue his remarkable run of success that for me makes him at least the best manager of my lifetime.