Smaller teams romanticizing with Jose Mourinho is a sign that the Portuguese manager is fast losing his swagger.
Since Jose Mourinho departed Manchester United last December, he hasn’t left the news. He never leaves.
Five years after “mutually” terminating his contract at Real Madrid and only a year into a newly agreed four-year extension, the manager got into series of disagreements with key senior members of the club which resulted in a decline in performance and the eventual departure of the Portuguese.
In the years after his departure from the Spanish capital, the same scenario played out at both Chelsea and Manchester United. A disturbing reoccurrence.
His style and method of management is a huge concern. Mourinho has refused to adopt a more pampering model that seems to work with modern top players.
He goes about work with so much verve and rigour, attributes that endeared him to the public and won him laurels. The problem with that is, those characteristics seem out of place in this age, at least to everyone else but Mourinho.
Two years ago, the thought of Jose Mourinho being approached by Benfica would have been unthinkable, today it is not only a mussing, but it is also a conversation without brakes and if nothing else works, this should remind Jose Mourinho that he is living in the past.
It is inconceivable that Jose Mourinho, for all his records and the height he has attained will be touted as the next manager of Benfica, who sacked Rui Vitoria after four ridiculously successful years at the club.
Without disrespecting the most successful club in Portuguese football, and a regular name in Europe’s elite competition; they are not in the same bracket as Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man United, Barça, Man City, Bayern Munich, Juventus or even PSG – a team Mourinho was linked to last year before he extended his contract at Man United.
Since making the jump a full decade-and-half ago, Mourinho has largely operated in the upper stratum. And to be fair, Chelsea were not in that
The difference here is; at the time, the gulf between the bigger teams and the rest of the pack wasn’t so wide. Add to that, Chelsea’s willingness to invest a huge sum in the team; a promise that was fulfilled and helped him close the gap at the top.
The other side to this is, Jose is Portuguese and he has a relationship with Benfica where he worked 18 years ago his first managerial job. While Benfica is allowed to romanticize the idea of having such a huge figure within their ranks, any such move may spell doom for Jose Mourinho.
Unless he somehow repeats the feat that put him in the eyes of the world 15 years ago.
With the increasingly widening gap between the rich and super-rich clubs, it will take an astronomical level of investment for any Portuguese side to compete.
Again, without belittling Benfica’s ambitions, they do not have the financial wherewithal to compete against Europe’s best which is where vintage Mourinho would prefer to compete.
This is not even about the money. Benfica is committed to matching any amount Jose Mourinho requests for. The club’s revenue is above €100 million, so they truly can afford to pay Jose. Instead, this is about ego.
There are currently eight super-rich teams in the world, Mourinho has worked at three of those – Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Manchester United – and although the door to Barça may have been shut at him, the other seven haven’t and that leaves a chance for him to return.
A decision to accept a job below this cadre might be a huge mistake. You only need to look at Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United and Claudio Ranieri; three managers whose only chances of getting another big job is to make average teams big.
Although, Mourinho might really do well with some time away from the rigours of the profession, perhaps a sabbatical. And he might consider taking a relatively smaller team and gradually work his way back up.
However, it is the uncertainties that will make this option a risk.
Mourinho’s chances of ever getting another top job may be effectively ended should he take the Benfica job.