Whisper it softly but can a man like Jose Mourinho change in 11 months?
At some stage or other, you would have heard someone quip quite confidently that losing doesn’t build character but actually only serves to reveal it. Like all one-liners that seem to stand the test of time, you can indeed get the essence of the message that they are trying to convey but one can’t forget that they are sweeping statements that take a frightening amount for granted.
These days the folks that are banging on about the merits of losing and the mask slipping can be found on Sky Sports as they talk about Jose Mourinho and his new job as Spurs’ manager. Jim White stopped himself just short of saying ‘here we go’ after Mourinho lost his first game in charge of Spurs away to Manchester United.
This was always going to be a juicy fixture and a cracking game in prospect given the narrative surrounding it but it seems attentions have now turned to what Mourinho's mood will be like in the wake of it.
Now, whilst the 62-year-old Glaswegian and Sky Sports News presenter does sport a rather cynical attitude these days it’s worth keeping in mind that an entire fanbase is probably watching and observing Mourinho now that he has encountered his first test at Spurs. It all begs the question: Can a man like Jose Mourinho change?
The only constant in life is change
Well, here we go with another one-liner suggesting change is the only guarantee we can bank on in this life of ours. If we were to take this at face value then the news would be that; yes indeed a man like Mourinho can change and won’t repeat the mistakes he made at Old Trafford which led to his eventual sacking in late December 2018.
The 56-year-old cut a miserable figure during his time as Manchester United manager when the going got tough. It sounds strange to say but there was almost a sympathy for Mourinho’s Manchester United side towards the very end given how salty the Portuguese manager had become.
Losing football games didn’t sit well with Jose in Manchester but to give him his due, he did say that would never change during his first presser as Spurs boss. You’re almost willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to losing as this probably isn’t a great deal of fun for a manager and the last things the fans want to see after suffering defeat is a jovial coach.
But we all know with Jose Mourinho during his spell in charge at Manchester United that his sullen attitude lasted for seven days a week and not just a couple hours after the referee’s final whistle. He flirted with bringing down his entire legacy because he wasn’t willing to change his attitude and when Ed Woodward finally pulled the trigger and gave Mourinho the bullet, it came as a relief to everyone.
Redemption at Sky
What did change after his sacking was public opinion when Mourinho joined Sky as a pundit.
The Portuguese manager thrived on the popular broadcaster Sky Sports and in the Sky studios as he provided a great deal of value with his world-class insight and dynamic opinions.
Surely this was the coach who had guided Inter Milan to the Champions League trophy? Could this be the man who did the impossible by winning Europe’s greatest domestic competition with Porto?
Maybe the Manchester United board were to blame and did leave the 56-year-old out to dry. These were at least a few of the thoughts people battled with whilst watching a man who clearly has an unmatched football brain pick his reputation up off the floor.
Do you necessarily want a man like Mourinho to change?
You should be careful what you wish for when demanding a serial winner change because, in all likelihood, Mourinho is going to bring trophies to Spurs if he is left to his own devices. He is already grabbing the headlines at Spurs after enjoying a positive start.
Mid-November a Top 4 finish looked impossible but you'd have to say with Mourinho at the wheel Spurs look good value once again. Their odds of doing so would also suggest the same as Betway, as of the 5th of December has Mourinho's men down at 9/4 to end up in the coveted Champions League positions. So with all this in mind and Spurs' miraculous improvement, does Mourinho need to change?
He may well do himself a favour or two with a more diplomatic approach but you could argue that is neither here nor there when it comes to delivering on the football pitch. That is at least to say it has not counted against Jose anywhere else he has gone to manage in the past.
When all is said and done, Mourinho is who he is and he can often be quite unlikeable but then again, does that even matter?
Now that Spurs have lost their first game under Mourinho there is a feeling that Mourinho will begin arriving at press conferences looking like he has just had four root canals done. And do you know what he may well do. After all, we're often told a leopard can’t change its spots and it hasn’t even been a year since his last job. You’ll need to take the good with the bad when it comes to Jose Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix but fortunately for Spurs, there is a great deal more good likely to come their way over the next few years.
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