Curse of the 3rd Season: Ranking the Mood During Jose Mourinho’s Final Season at Every Club

Jose Mourinho knows two things in football – how to win trophies, and how to attract controversy.

The Manchester United manager has won countless trophies and made countless enemies during his managerial career. Whilst his successful record can never be disputed, Mourinho has also built a negative reputation of capitulating during the third year of his employment.

Has he always left a mess at his former clubs? Let’s take a look and rank each departure of his career on a not-so-scientifically named mess-o-meter.

7. Benfica

Mourinho began his managerial career with Benfica in 2000 as he was promoted from his role as assistant manager to replace Jupp Heynckes, and almost instantly started making enemies.

The club wanted to select Jesualdo Ferreira as his assistant, but Mourinho refused to accept their decision and instead hired Carlos Mozer. Mourinho later described Ferreira as “a donkey who worked for 30 years but never became a horse”, insinuating that Ferreira had never achieved success in his 30-year managerial career.

Mourinho and Mozer appeared to be a good combination, but Benfica underwent a change of President shortly into Mourinho’s reign. New President Manuel Vilarinho claimed that he wanted a new coach, but was not prepared to fire Mourinho. 

Mourinho’s ninth game in charge saw Benfica beat rivals Sporting CP 3-0, after which Mourinho requested a new contract in order to test the loyalties of the new President. Vilarinho refused his request, and Mourinho resigned immediately.

Rating on the mess-o-meter: 3/10 

6. União de Leiria

Just six months later, Mourinho joined União de Leiria. He instantly continued his impressive form, guiding the side towards the top of the league table in Portugal.

On paper, his side should have been completely unable to compete with the likes of Benfica, Sporting CP and Porto, yet his side were in fourth place in the league. União de Leiria were one point ahead of Porto and only six points away from the top of the table.

He was selected by Porto as the man to bring glory to the club, meaning he left União de Leiria during the middle of their campaign. However, there were no hard feelings towards Mourinho, who always appeared destined for greatness. The club were simply grateful for his hard work.

Rating on the mess-o-meter: 0/10

5. Porto

Porto were enduring a tough campaign when they hired Mourinho. He was given the job of steadying the ship, before promising to win the league the following season.

His successes with Porto are well documented, guiding the club to an unlikely Champions League triumph alongside winning several domestic titles. He fulfilled his promise, as well as delivering a huge amount of success for the club. The Champions League triumph brought Mourinho worldwide exposure, which tended to be positive.

His energetic celebrations led to some criticism from opposing managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, but the world had no choice but to take notice of Mourinho. Following the Champions League victory, Mourinho inevitably left the club to join Chelsea. Porto were powerless to stand in his way, allowing their new hero to do whatever he wanted as reward for his success with the club.

Ranking on the mess-o-meter: 0/10

4. Chelsea

Roman Abramovich’s chequebook proved too tempting for Mourinho, who managed to continue his unparalleled ascension towards greatness in London. The self-proclaimed “Special One” managed to win back-to-back Premier League titles, but found the Champions League to be a step too far.

Fans adored Mourinho, but the mood did not last forever. His third season saw Mourinho clash with the Chelsea board, including owner Roman Abramovich. 

Abramovich insisted Mourinho field expensive new signing Andriy Shevchenko, who struggled greatly during his time at Chelsea.

Mourinho found himself in a power struggle with the club, frustrated that he was not given full control over the team. Tensions grew as Avram Grant was given a position on Chelsea’s board, despite Mourinho’s displeasure. The issues remained behind-the-scenes, as Chelsea’s performances were still positive.

However, his fourth season in charge saw a string of negative results. Disappointing results against Aston Villa and Blackburn, coupled with a poor Champions League performance, saw Mourinho unexpectedly resign in September 2007.

Ranking on the mess-o-meter: 6/10

3. Internazionale

Inter came calling the following summer, and Mourinho again continued his phenomenal successes. He won many trophies with the club, including another Champions League triumph.

He divided opinion in Italy as his relationships with the Italian media and several high-profile managers were generally negative. He continued to argue with referees and managers, but results on the pitch remained positive.

The team performed incredibly, dispatching the likes of Barcelona on their way to winning the Champions League. The club had made a few enemies on the way, but could not argue with the trophies which were won.

Real Madrid and Inter agreed on a record-breaking compensation package to bring Mourinho to Spain, leaving Inter after guiding them to the first Italian treble in history.

Ranking on the mess-o-meter: 1/10

2. Real Madrid

Moruinho was referred to as a ‘Galactico’ when he arrived, such was the excitement around his signing. During the previous campaign, Real Madrid had disappointed, meaning Mourinho had the chance to bring glory to the club once again.

Once again, he brought immediate success to the team, but his third season was full of controversy. He was involved in a physical confrontation with Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, whilst also regularly criticising referees, journalists and his own players.

He sidelined popular goalkeeper Iker Casillas, whilst also arguing with influential figures Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. Pepe and Marcelo also publicly questioned Mourinho’s methods.

The Real Madrid squad completely lost faith in Mourinho, but still performed admirably on the pitch. However, the mood at the Bernebeu was completely toxic, and Mourinho inevitably left the club in 2013.

Ranking on the mess-o-meter: 8/10

1. Chelsea (Again)

Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge was met with immense enthusiasm amongst fans. He was still regarded as one of the best managers in the world, and his emotions would surely be happier back at Chelsea, right?

After bringing Premier League glory back to Chelsea in his second season, the dreaded third season curse returned. The opening day of the season saw Mourinho clash with popular physio Eva Carneiro, who took legal action against Chelsea for discrimination.

The team never got going in 2015, losing match after match. Mourinho blamed the FA, referees and opposition managers, before turning his attention towards his players. He claimed players were refusing to listen to him and betraying him on the pitch.

Chelsea found themselves one point from the relegation zone in mid-December, as it appeared that both the players and Mourinho wanted the coach to leave. He was inevitably released, with the situation at Stamford Bridge at the lowest it had been in a while.

Ranking on the mess-o-meter: 10/10


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