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What everyone said about Mourinho…. before they changed their minds.

By Walter Broeckx

With the sacking of Mourinho and as one of our readers linked to an article on the BBC below a previous article I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what some of their experts said at the start of the season.

Somewhere at the start of the season the BBC pundits predicted who would win the PL and who would be in the top 4 at the end of this season.

They even patted themselves on the back with linking to their predictions of the season before saying: 19 out of 29 BBC experts correctly backed them to win the title last year.

And those same experts plus one then decided that Chelsea would win it again. This season 22 out of the 30 experts tipped Chelsea to win back to back titles. Only one person out of the 30 experts said they would finish outside the top 2.

So one could say that 29 out of the 30 said that Chelsea would win it or would come second at least. The only one predicting Chelsea to finish third was Alistair Mann.

After 16 matches Chelsea sit in 16th position. Their natural habitat in the pre-Abramovitch era one could say.

But some experts also said why they thought that Chelsea would win it again. And, well, that makes some interesting reading now after 16 matches.

We had Alan Shearer saying: The title race will be a lot tighter and I am expecting the top four to be bunched together for most of the season.

But Chelsea are still the team to beat because of their experience and I also think they will be better than they were last year when Diego Costa was injured a lot last season and Cesc Fabregas did not play his best football from February onwards.

It also would not surprise me if they sign another big hitter before the transfer window shuts.

Well yes Alan, you was right about Mourinho signing another big hitter before the transfer window shuts. I remember the drooling when Pedro was announced. And when in his first match he made a sensational start the experts wetted their pants even more. But that was then…

Former Chelsea player Ruud Gullit said : I think they will buy another striker. We saw against Arsenal in the Community Shield that they might have a problem up front when Costa is unavailable. Jose Mourinho hopes Radamel Falcao is the answer but I did not see that at Wembley. I hope Falcao succeeds too, but I think Chelsea still need another powerful striker as back-up to Costa.

So having Costa, Falcao and Remy isn’t enough for Chelsea.  Three players who at some point we should have bought according to those who claim to know anything about it. Chelsea have scored 18 goals in 16 matches. And that with those three strikers, Fabregas, Oscar, William and of course Eden Hazard at their disposal.

Another expert opinion could be found from BBC Radio 5 live football correspondent John Murray: Chelsea still have the best squad and certainly have the best defence.

Let us start with the best squad… One would think that if they would suffer a lot of injuries they wouldn’t even suffer. As they have the best squad. Well Chelsea only lost 47 match points in total according to the injury league table. For your information Arsenal lost 106 match points in their table. So with not even half the injuries Arsenal has suffered their squad surely isn’t as good as our dear correspondent was thinking it was.

And the best defence… Chelsea have let in 26 goals so far this season. And that is a number that comes close to the other teams in the relegation zone.

On to the next expert Pat Nevin: The manager makes a big difference too, of course. I think Mourinho will get more out of a number of his players this season, with Oscar being one of them.

Ouch. In the light of what the special one said himself this comment goes completely wrong. Pat, you are running a season behind I think. He did that last season but he usually can’t do it in his third season in charge. Well he sure will not do it anymore at Chelsea for the moment.

Former Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux said: You know Mourinho’s tactics will be spot on, even if the personnel changes. Nobody is a passenger in this Chelsea team, no matter who comes in, and reliability is one of the requirement of all his players. That consistency underpins everything they do, and on top of that they have got some amazingly creative players.

Drooling all over Mourinho one could say but well his tactics surely weren’t that spot on. They were reliable in stacking up the losses but I don’t think Le Saux was saying it like that. Consistent in their losses yes but again not what he meant to say I think. And yes they do have some amazing creative players in their team. But well the problem is that most of them are not allowed to be creative. Maybe some special person was holding them back forcing them to defend and defend…?

But some had seen some wrong things like Chris Sutton who said: Mourinho has to address Chelsea’s lack of creativity in the second half of last season but the fact remains he is an outstanding manager who always finds a way to win games.

Well spotted Chris about that second part of the season. The second part of your statement somehow seems way off target. But hey, can’t have it all.

And finally a word from BBC Radio 5 live’s senior football reporter Ian Dennis: Just as in 2005 and 2006 I’m tipping Mourinho to claim back-to-back titles with Chelsea. I think he will get the best out of Falcao but I expect Arsenal to push them close.

Yes Ian, the last sentence might be correct. I do expect Arsenal to push close to the title. But I somehow think it will not be that we will be pushing Chelsea in a title race. And getting the best out of Falcao? That sure didn’t work out as you predicted.

Now the problem is of course that with hindsight it is easy to make a bit of fun of the experts.

And in a way one can’t really blame them for their opinions. Chelsea had done all they said they should do over the years. Hire Mourinho as he is the special one. Spend truckloads of money on new players each and every season. And on top of that they had already the best squad of the whole PL the season before. So what could go wrong with predicting them to win it again?

Well what can go wrong is that the world is moving. It is not because team A won it that they will win it again.

The players are the best, the squad is the best, they have spent again and yet things have fallen apart. Surely it can’t be because of the special one….

What most experts are also missing is that other teams might work in the long way. A slow way in improving the team with adding a big player every now and then and we have done this 3 years in a row now with Özil, Alexis and Cech. And then add players from within like Coqueling and Bellerin and Campbell this season. But that is not making headlines of course and so goes under the radar of the experts. I think before his injury one could say that if Wenger wanted to sell Coquelin he would be worth around £25m-£30m already as he has one of the best stats as a defensive midfielder. Bellerin would be worth around £10m-£15m already as being one of the best right backs at his young age in the PL.

The way Wenger has worked in silence on building this team and blended them together with own youth players is not making headlines.

So the money spending model from Mourinho can work at times and of course it will always give you a big advantage if you can spend without having to look at the consequences. But it is no guarantee for success.

Just imagine if Arsenal would win the title this season after “not having bought an outfield player” as they proclaimed….. That sure should give them something to think about. But if they are capable of doing that is another question. Think I mean….

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19 comments to What everyone said about Mourinho…. before they changed their minds.

  • Pete

    Interesting that the three loaded clubs in England, all trailing in Arsenal’s wake, are experiencing very significant managerial instability. While Arsenal, with great stability, are sailing serenely on. Isn’t there a moral there somewhere?

  • Kaius

    “What most experts are also missing is that other teams might work in the long way.”

    Such a great point Walter. Hard for people to even know how much credit to give us when everyone measures progress/ambition in terms of transfer money spent.

    Ed Smith made a similar point in this excellent piece comparing Wenger & Mourinho (http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/sport/2015/12/mourinho-tactician-and-wenger-educator-both-are-perfectionists-just-different)

    And of course, brilliant work comparing and analyzing those predictions. Fascinating!

  • colario

    I don’t know about other English speaking countries but in England is the expression

    ‘To put your foot in your mouth.’

    It means to say something very stupid and to embarrass yourself in the process.

    Many of the ‘know alls’ that pontificate on football in the media are ex players and some but not all were very good players. Sadly it is evident being a good player doesn’t mean you can comment intelligently on football. Just as being a good player doesn’t mean you will be a good football coach.

    So we are lumbered with these ‘foot in mouth experts’ until that is someone like Arsene appoints the media ‘pundits’ -‘experts’ only then and not until then will we fans be reliably informed as to what is happening in football.

  • Pete

    Kaius – thanks for the link. Very interesting.

  • Josif

    Excellent piece, Walter.

    About Mourinho and Chelsea…

    I think he had sharpened his teeth on Eden Hazard for too long. They’ve been playing like crap since that loss against PSG and the only player Mourinho should have made a thanksgiving-party for was Hazard. In case you have forgotten, Mourinho made a public criticism of Hazard for not defending enough in 2013-14. Then he didn’t allow Dr Carneiro to help him against Swansea. Finally, he accused him – between the lines- that he didn’t want to stay on the pitch against Leicester.

    In my prediction book, City have been slightly ahead of us as favourites for the title, mostly because we didn’t sign a Coquelin-esque back-up DM. Chelsea – having seen them in a preseason – were not too close.

    I did expect Leicester to go down after sacking Pearson and appointing Ranieri, I have to admit, and Watford to follow them.

  • proudkev

    Well said Walter.

    I have for a long time realised what Mourinho was. I saw a number of articles from the media that described him perfectly and who predicted the way his tenure would end.

    For me the description football manager is misunderstood. The media in this Country fail to recognise that managing a team that has the ability to outspend everyone else is a totally different way of management to that of a club that cannot. The same is true of what you inherit. A manager joining Bayern, Barca, Real Madrid is going to inherit a top bunch of players.

    This means there are two types of Manager:

    1. Cheque book manager
    2. Development Manager

    Now that is not to say that there is no such thing as a manager that can do both, there is.

    Mourinho joined Inter Milan when they had won three titles on the spin including a double and a copa Italia and Supercopa treble. He was given money to add to that. He went to Madrid, a team of Galacticos and was found out. For evidence that money can buy anything you only have to look at Blackburn Rovers and the fact that Roberto Di Matteo won the Champions League for Cheslea. Is the latter a ‘great’ manager’.

    Now if course money isnt everything as LVG has demonstrated, you have to spend it well. But its a big advantage.

    So for me the media have been seduced by romance, they are unable to attach any weighting to managerial achievements. The Manager of the season invaribly ends up on the mantelpiece of the champions but it shouldnt really.

    What we dont know is whether or not a manager like, lets say, Garry Monk would have won anything if he had been employed by Abramovich and given an unlimited budget. Or Barcelona/Bayern Munich.

    Thsi is where Wenger gets compared unfavourably. A manager that has to sell his best players, while other clubs are going mental, break even every season and is forced to develop players (who invaribly get head hunted when they tiurn good). Wenger himself said it was the biggest challenge and his greatest success.

    The media and the pundits arent particularly bright or clever. They just automatically assume the best manager is the one that wins the league. Winning is the alter they worship at and they got it wrong with Mourinho.

    Would Arsenal have stayed top 4 every season had Mourinho been in charge during the austerity period? No. Not only would he have left as soon as he knew the money was unavailable he simply would be capable of developing players. He couldn’t develop a photograph, he does not have the skills for that. As soon as he has his back against the wall and things don’t go his way, he goes on the attack and blames everybody else. Or criticises other managers or pokes them in the eye. No wonder players lose confidence and results suffer. He is not in Wengers league in that respect.

    On the flip side, if Arsene managed Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Chelsea when Abramovich arrived, would he have had the same success as them? I think he would. In fcat, I think any top manager would have had identical success and maybe have won the CL.

    But whatever would have happened, nobody can deny that the way the meida, pundits and fans judge managers is purely based on the trophys they win and not on ‘what’ they have had to manage. It’s all about comparing eggs with eggs and they don’t. In fact, it seems the media and the pundits deliberately go out of ther way to try to deny the situation Arsenal have navigated and try to pretend that finances made no difference to the position between Jose and Arsene. The specialist in spending against te specialist in developing – I know who is the best manager pound for pound and I suspect the vast majority of football owners do too. Its just the mentaly retarded who don’t.

  • proudkev

    *he simply would NOT be capable of developing players.

  • bjtgooner

    Excellent article Walter.

    One of the stories coming out of Chelski is that the Odious One was fired because the players were revolting! 🙂

    Either way, good riddance & lets hope he becomes the “Very Far Away One”!

  • Matt Clarke

    Yeah, thanks Walter.
    I had a good laugh yesterday, when BBC Radio 4’s 5 o’clock news show dubbed JM the ‘Sacked One’

  • Jambug

    Proudkev

    More brilliant analysis as usual my friend.

    A couple of points. You say:

    “So for me the media have been seduced by romance, they are unable to attach any weighting to managerial achievements.”

    Or aren’t they?

    This statement raises a very crucial point, and begs the question:

    Are they ‘unable’ or do they ‘Choose’ not to attach any weight?

    It is important, because that is what determines whether they are just ‘stupid’ or whether they have an ‘agenda’, and I think that is a crucial point.

    Sorry but I just don’t think so many of them can be that stupid, so it must, as many of us here abouts believe, be an agenda. I truly believe that.

    You also say:

    “In fact, it seems the media and the pundits deliberately go out of there way to try to deny the situation Arsenal have navigated and try to pretend that finances made no difference to the position between Jose and Arsene.

    Which suggests to me that you too believe that it is a preordained state of mind, or agenda, that dictates so much of what is said by these ‘experts’.

  • James

    It’s all very funny, especially the statement ‘specialist in failure’.
    A Chelsea fan had responded to that statement with a list of titles that Mourinho had won since Wenger had last won the premier league. It was indeed an extensive and impressive list, which even included ‘Gq Man of the Year’.
    When I thought about it though, the honours were for three different clubs. This meant that as well as these titles, he had actually been sacked three times since Wenger won the title.
    Who has failed?
    Interesting indeed. And upon thinking further, I would imagine that if Wenger was available now as a managerial candidate, up against Mourinho, there would be a lot more job offers at his door, a lot of them from the bigger clubs as well.
    I am happy that Arsene Wenger will be the Arsenal manager for years to come.

  • Jambug

    Kaius

    December 18, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Regarding the Ed Smith Article.

    He makes some good points but far too often falls into the trap of regurgitating many of the same old clichés we hear time and time again, that just don’t stand up, at least not to the extend to which he and others infer.

    Take this as just one example . He says:

    “How will Wenger be remembered? We will look back on a stubborn idealist with huge blind spots (central defenders, goalkeepers, defensive midfielders, and so on)”.

    This is rubbish, plain and simple. Yes he’s bought some duds but who hasn’t? Lets not forget that for ten years Wenger was operating on a massively restricted budget. He was trying to find diamonds in a pile of rocks, but he knew a top centre half alright when he saw one. It is well known he was a great admirer of Rio Ferdinand, and was interested in him when he was up for sale but could in no way match the excessive (Fergies words) fee required to acquire his services.

    But despite that, and despite the occasional catastrophic display, our defensive record has been good, very good, especially when you take into account how we set up as a predominantly offensive unit.

    So to dispel this notion that Wenger doesn’t actually do ‘defence’ lets look at how things have panned out these last few years now Wengers at least had a bit of money to spend.

    Average PL goals conceded per match over the Last 4 seasons:

    Chelsea: 1.05 goals per game.

    Arsenal: 0.95 goals per game.

    Funny that, how the tactically naïve manager, with this massive defensive blind spot, with the rubbish buys of Kos, Mert, Monreal and Bellerin, can out defend the bus parkers of W1.

    And that was just one of Mr Smiths own ‘Blind Spots’. There where others.

    As I say, not a bad article but still repeating far too many of the mindless clichés that are incessantly, mistakenly, aimed at Wenger.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    The vulture is a patient bird. Mr Roman Abramovich was not patient to allow his most successful manager to turn the unexpected misfortunes on the field at Chelsea to a good fortune again.

    There are 3 kinds of owner(s) of football clubs. One owner or owners is or are the quick results oriented kinds/clubs. Like, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germains, Celtic, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United. The owner(s) of these above clubs want to see a quick returns of their investments in terms of titles success. They are impatience owner or owners kinds that drives their managers crazy to produce good results or get fired.

    There are also clubs owner(s) who are ready to wait and bid their time for title success and allowed their managers to do their jobs in their own ways without any undue pressure for titles success or interfere with their jobs. But their clubs must maintain a high standard standing in table at all times. Arsenal, Tottenham HS, Atletico Madrid, Dortmond, AC Milan, Intermilan and Juvetus are in this category. In such a club, the manager has the time to develop players internally and occasionally buy top class players to up the grade of their squads. Their clubs owner(s) hadn’t the kind of money to buy the titles by to immediately buy the kinds of titles winning players in the market. Hence, they hardly pressurized their managers to deliver titles.

    The 3rd categories are the owners or the owner of a club that is or are satisfied with a medium table finish or luckily a times qualify for the Europa League. Such as Southampton, Everton and other clubs in European top Leagues. Their owners are satisfied as long as they don’t fall into relegation battles. If their clubs are threatened with relegation, they try to do something to stop their clubs getting relegated by sacking their managers.

    I think we will miss Jose Mourinho’s Jibes, Antics Controversies and self proclaimed esteem in the Premier League. He is an added colour and excitements to miss in the Premier while he was there. Now those controversies are gone, it’s going to quiet in the media blarings. And Roman Abramovich has offended me by not at allowing Jose Mourinho to bring his Blues side to the Ems to received a bruising before deciding to relieve him of his job.

    I not sure if Jose Mourinho will not be abled to develop players internally and add some top quality players to his team like the Boss does due to lack of super money to buy the titles if he has that chance. What did he do at Porto before Abramovich took him there? I don’t know. But apparently, he looks to be the buying the titles kind of manager rather than build the squad kind of manager if his track record is to be taken into account.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great article and some superb comments.
    After this tawdry series of events at Chelsea, with this deeply unpleasant man at the centre of it all, just very thankful we have the boss in charge.
    That said, absolutely gutted Jose has gone, loved watching him wreck his own reputation and take his club headlong towards the bottom end of the table.
    But what will it say for the players if they suddenly improve……or will it just speak volumes on their departed manager…..even people on two hundred grand a week deserve to be properly treated…..I wonder if they actually were, despite there clearly being a few snakes in the grass amongst their players…..including maybe one who used to play for us

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    The vulture is a patient bird. Mr Roman Abramovich was not patient to allow his most successful manager to turn the unexpected misfortunes on the field at Chelsea to a good fortune again.

    There are 3 kinds of owner(s) of football clubs. One owner or owners is or are the quick results oriented kinds/clubs. Like, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germains, Celtic, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United. The owner(s) of these above clubs want to see a quick returns of their investments in terms of titles success. They are impatience owner or owners kinds that drives their managers crazy to produce good results or get fired.

    There are also clubs owner(s) who are ready to wait and bid their time for title success and allowed their managers to do their jobs in their own ways without any undue pressure for titles success or interfere with their jobs. But their clubs must maintain a high standard standing in the table at all times. Arsenal, Tottenham HS, Atletico Madrid, Dortmond, AC Milan, InterMilan and Juventus are in this category. In such a club, the manager has the time to develop players internally and occasionally buy top class players to up the grade of their squads. Their clubs owner(s) hadn’t the kind of money to immediately buy the kinds of titles winning players in the market. Hence, they hardly pressurized their managers to deliver titles.

    The 3rd categories are the owners or the owner of a club that is or are satisfied with a medium table finish or luckily a times qualify for the Europa League. Such as Southampton, Everton and other clubs in European top Leagues fall into this group. Their owners are satisfied as long as they don’t fall into relegation battles. If their clubs are threatened with relegation, they try to do something to stop their clubs getting relegated by sacking their managers and appoints a new one.

    I think we will miss Jose Mourinho’s Jibes, Unruly antics, Controversies and self proclaimed esteem in the Premier League. He was an added colour and excitements to that we will miss in the Premier while he was there. Now those controversies are gone, it’s going to be quiet in the media blarings. And Roman Abramovich has offended me by not at least allowing Jose Mourinho to bring his Blues side to the Ems to received a bruising before deciding to relieve him of his job.

    Am not sure if Jose Mourinho will not be abled to develop players internally and add some top quality ones to his team like the Boss does due to lack of super money to buy the titles if he has that chance. What did he do at Porto before Abramovich took him away from there? I don’t know. But apparently, he looks to be the buying the titles kind of a manager rather than first internally build the squad kind of a manager, if his track record is to be taken into account.

  • Kaius

    Jambug… I agree with your criticisms about the article. But he argues the same astute point that Walter did:

    “He is often described as a “developmental manager”, as though that quality leads him to be a limited and indulgent tactician. We might reverse the causality: being a tolerant, light-touch tactician sustains his gift as a long-term educator. To expect more of people and risk being let down can be an ­effective style of long-range leadership.”

    It’s a good examination of how Wenger was able build multiple Arsenal sides while Mourinho can’t survive longer than three years as a leader, without necessarily making either man the “better manager”.

  • Kaius

    Mandy Dodd… I think if the players turn it around quickly, it’ll just confirm that some of those players were done with Mourinho. Their technical director’s “palpable discord” statements seemed to absolve the players, wiping their slates clean for a new manager.

    If Mourinho was able to humiliate Carneiro in front of the cameras, imagine their dressing room after some of those defeats? Oh to have been a fly on those walls!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Who knows what went on Kaius, but they certainly either lost confidence, stopped playing for him, or both. I am sure some of them got some pretty unpleasant treatment…..
    But it seems Agent Cesc was right in the thick of it. He may have wrecked his distinguished career for a greater cause, carve his name with pride.

  • Jambug

    Kaius

    Yep, as I say not a bad article.

    As you point out, the crux of his piece, that Wenger is a ‘development manager’ with a soft touch, versus Mourhino, who is a ‘here and now manager’, who relies on bucket loads of money to buy the finished article, allied to his powers of motivation, which involves building a seize mentality, and the use of overt praise and criticism in equal measures, is overall a fair analysis.