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José Mourinho: The Motivator and The Alienator



José Mourinho is widely regarded as a master of motivation, a genius at mind games, and one of the few who can win a game before it kicks off. He has managed at four different clubs on the world stage, and has made a huge impact wherever he went. But just how does he achieve the feat of drawing that extra few percent from his players that give them an edge when it matters most?

His first incarnation at Stamford Bridge started off like a storm with fans, players and media alike enraptured by this mystical man from Portugal. Having the cojones to label yourself ‘The Special One’ in your first press conference? Looking back at that moment now, we realise that quite possibly the first card in the greatest series of mind games had just been played. This moment of brilliance certainly made him an immediate favourite with the English press, but it was the instant rapport he built up with the Chelsea dressing room that was the determining factor in his immediate success.

Both the spine of the team on the pitch and the core of the dressing room were made up of the same Chelsea stalwarts; all of whom would go on to achieve legendary status at Stamford Bridge. Petr Cech, club captain John Terry, Mister consistent Frank Lampard, and the beast himself Didier Drogba were all Mourinho’s darlings. For him to have gained the adoration and respect of such massive characters within the club gave him the security he needed to carry out his work. Even between his two tenures at Stamford Bridge, these players have never been shy to declare the former Porto boss as the best they have worked with. During his first stay, unhappy vibes would very rarely emanate from the Chelsea ranks, even from those who were not in the regular first team picture.

A similar trend continued at José’s next appointment; Inter Milan. Here too, he was in the presence of many an experienced pro and even a club legend or too. Possibly the resounding image from his reign at the San Siro was Javier Zanetti crying profusely in Mourinho’s arms after winning the Champions League. It was almost common knowledge at this point that this would be the Portugese’s last action at Inter, and he had certainly built up a fantastic friendship with the veteran Argentinian. Zanetti was clearly distraught at the thought of Mourinho leaving and you can’t imagine that this sentiment was not shared by the majority at the club.

His impression on Internazionale’s players was again emphasised by Samuel Eto’o’s willingness to play out of position when required. In several important games, he would play almost as a right-winger and work tirelessly for 90 minutes. Seemingly just as keen to carry out his defensive duties as his continual goal threat, the lethal Cameroon forward put himself out for the team and for Mourinho. Seeing Diego Milito scoring most of the goals that campaign must not have been easy for such a prolific number 9, but shows just how influential and persuasive José must have been.

It must be said that while he certainly did not fail as manager of Real Madrid, it is still a blot on his otherwise almost pristine copy book. From the very beginning, the double Champions League winner did not get on well at all with the Spanish media. He would seem subdued during press conferences and would frequently verbally attack journalists for their line of questioning. Naturally disgruntled with this, football writers in Spain never gave him a great deal of slack from this moment on.

In his blatantly dour mood, the maverick Portugese would make team selections that hardly pleased the Bernabeu faithful. Club legend and stalwart between the sticks, Iker Casillas was the most poignant example of this. In a sharp contrast to his previous tactics at Chelsea and Inter, Mourinho would now often drop his influential figures for key matches rather than rely on them and request their loyalty. Casillas held the record number of International caps for Spain and so Mourinho’s decision to favour Diego Lopez in goal for vital games was a puzzling one at best. Rumours of arguments with Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo; another vital pair of cogs in the Madrid machine, were never fully substantiated but nevertheless their emergence into the public sphere chucked another spanner in the works for Los Blancos.

Despite winning 3 trophies during his tenure; La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Spanish Super Cup, he never quite achieved his primary objective of displacing Pep Guardiola and Barcelona from the pinnacle of Spanish football. After quite a protracted exit from the Bernabeu, it was announced on 3rd June 2013 that the prodigal son was returning to London. This time though, he was in the guise of ‘The Happy One’.

In this second stint at the Bridge, he has not displayed nearly as much arrogance that we loved and abhorred in equal measure when he came to England for the first time. Tactics on this occasion have been much more subtle, such as repeatedly ruling Chelsea out of the title race even when sitting on top of the league. He even went to the extent of announcing that it was now impossible for them to win the league, even though they only sat 2 points off top spot. You can only assume that he has an entirely different attitude towards his players, but his outward display of pessimism must surely knck opposition managers slightly off stride.

José has undoubtedly relied once again on Chelsea’s experienced pros of Cech, Terry and Lampard. David Luiz; a centre-back by trade, has barely been an option in this position all season. Ivanovic has been shifted from right-back instead, despite the fact that Luiz is a penciled-in starter for Scolari’s Brazil at the World Cup this summer.

Eto’o’s continued presence in all of Chelsea’s important matches is startling. Although Fernando Torres’ form has been far from scintillating, chances have been far too scarce to regain form or confidence. In the recent second leg against PSG, Eto’o started the match despite only coming back to training from injury a day before the game. When Chelsea needed a goal, who did Mourinho turn to? Not Torres, but Demba Ba. A man whose opportunities have been even more limited. This must have been a hammer blow to Torres’ confidence.

And yet, it was Demba Ba who scored the goal to send Chelsea through. True, it was not an impressive individual effort, or one that you feel Torres wouldn’t have scored. But Mourinho’s decision was certainly vindicated. His declaration before the match that “we are going to score more goals than them” came true and so his methods are not placed under scrutiny.

The mark of a fantastic manager is obtaining the necessary result when you need it most. Whatever way he achieves this should not hold much importance. He is right to think that the ends justify the means, and so whichever players he either needs to befriend or ignore in the process does not make a difference. A few may be alienated as part of Mourinho’s squad, but what greater motivation is there than winning trophies?

I am currently at university studying Mechanical Engineering, but in my spare time I'm into all things football. I'm an avid Liverpool fan but always try to remain impartial. My other interests include gaming and Formula One.


Newcastle United can do better than Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham this summer



Photo: Getty Images.

Rafa Benitez will have been disappointed to have seen his January signing of Islam Slimani end in complete and utter failure with the Leicester City loanee spending more time in the stands than on the pitch and now he is focused on bringing in an improvement to St. James’ Park for 2018/19, but Tammy Abraham is not the answer.

TEAMTalk say that the Spaniard may return to the striker, who was strongly linked with a move to the north-east last summer, according to the Daily Mirror.

On that occasion, the report indicated that a deal could not be agreed to satisfy Chelsea, but having struck a deal for Kenedy since then the relationship between the two parties may be better and make a move for Abraham smoother.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Then, Abraham was hot property having set the Championship alight with Bristol City, but his loan spell at Swansea has been less convincing. Having scored just five goals and registered three assists in 39 appearances for the Swans, Abraham has made only two Premier League starts in 2018 as doubts continue to emerge about his ability at this level.

What is clear is that he is not ready to walk into Newcastle and be the solution that Benitez needs. In part, that is because Abraham would not be an alternative to the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic, impressing in the second tier himself now, or Slimani, given that whilst he is tall and physical, his game is about much more than simply being a target man.

The Newcastle boss is clearly looking for a way to add goals to his team, but Abraham, whilst promising, may not be ready for such pressure after a frustrating season in difficult circumstances in south Wales and would be a cheap gamble if Newcastle were to opt for him as their main addition up-front.

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Isaac Christie-Davies joining Liverpool highlights Anfield as the ideal platform for youngsters

Josh Kerr



Isaac Christie-Davies
Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool are set to sign Chelsea midfielder Isaac Christie-Davies on a free transfer, according to reports from ESPN.

The 20-year-old talent was not offered a new contract by Chelsea and the Reds swooped in earlier this year to offer him a trial ahead of other interested clubs.

If the move goes through, Christie-Davies will become the second young player, after Dominic Solanke, to join the Reds from Chelsea in just two years.

Davies joined Chelsea’s academy from Brighton and progressed from the youth ranks to the under-23s, winning the FA Youth Cup in 2015 and 2016 as well as the UEFA Youth League in 2016.

The teenager impressed during his trial period at Liverpool with the Merseyside outfit set to offer him a contract.

The youngster will look to his former Chelsea teammate and World Cup Golden Ball winner Solanke for inspiration, who finally showcased his talents in his previous outing at Anfield.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

The 20-year-old striker finally notched his first senior goal for the Reds against Brighton on the final day of the Premier League, when the England international rifled a shot just under the bar to break his Reds duck.

The move for Christie-Davies represents yet another promising player trading London for Merseyside, and it could be Liverpool taking advantage of further academy talents.

Christie-Davies is likely to head straight into the Liverpool Under 23 squad as he follows the path of former teammate Solanke to Anfield.

Despite the youngster being unlikely to influence the first team next season it still could prove to be a nice bit of business from the club.

Although it was Chelsea’s decision to let the former Brighton youngster leave Stamford Bridge, Davies will look to the likes of former Blues, Solanke and Rhian Brewster as inspiration that it is still possible to reach the top.

Liverpool’s under 23’s finished 2nd in Premier League 2 this season, and standout players such as Harry Wilson even endured successful loan moves in the Championship, which could be the motivation Davies needs to make the grade at Anfield.

Also, the fact Liverpool quickly gambled on the midfielder reflects the qualities that are evidently present with Christie-Davies. If the youngster makes the most of his new move he could be another former Blue to thrive from a London exit.

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Mauricio Pochettino would be mad to leave Tottenham for Chelsea



Photo: Getty Images.

There could be one of the most sensational managerial switches of the Premier League era if Sky Sports are to be believed as they claim that Chelsea are pondering over making a move for Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to replace Antonio Conte after a disastrous attempt at a Premier League title defence.

The Italian’s days are clearly numbered and his departure after the FA Cup final this weekend looks inevitable, but Mauricio Pochettino would be making a serious mistake if he were to take the opportunity to move to Stamford Bridge.

After four years in the dugout, at both White Hart Lane and Wembley Stadium, Pochettino has got his team playing his way. The Argentine has always worked under limited resources, at Espanyol, Southampton and even now at Spurs, and whilst the offer of money to spend at Chelsea may be exciting it would also mean an increased responsibility and a very different challenge.

(during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium on May 13, 2018 in London, England.

Tottenham fans and board have complete faith in their coach and are prepared to invest in him to take their club to the next level, something which will come soon with the building of their new stadium, and feel that he is the right man to lead the club in the long-term.

A move to a club with such a short term view in the form of Chelsea would be to sacrifice all that Pochettino has achieved in his spell in north London to date, bringing through young talents like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier who are now beginning to reach their peak and shine under the coach.

With stability at a club on the up, Pochettino would be foolish to be distracted by the bright lights and glamour of a dysfunctional club like Chelsea.

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