There was a time Jose Mourinho used to pick suitors on his own terms. He effortlessly popped up and moved through Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid, building a reputation as a turn-around strategist who guaranteed success.
Then came his second stint at Chelsea before he moved on to Manchester United. Both these episodes can’t be described as a success by even the most optimistic punditry. And even he had to take a lengthy break, as if to reflect on his choices.
Then he popped up at Tottenham where a dark cloud refuses to lift. Last Tuesday he was bundled out of the Champions League, following a similarly unceremonious exit in the FA Cup at the hands of lowly Norwich. Add that to his inability to climb beyond 8th in the league, and you start to see a dead man walking. It is still early for his methods to sink in and injuries haven’t been helpful.
But football is impatient and narrow sighted. Already the clever types are blaming him for turning Tottenham from an exciting side into a boring outfit. It’s all unforgiving and Jose Mourinho might be on the verge of a third sacking in as many years. And should that happen, not even a magician will sanitize his image.
Is he finished though? Maybe not. In an environment of impatient and trigger-happy club owners, a man like Jose Mourinho will still retain top options. But what is certain is that after Tottenham his camp will no longer be able to rely on past reputations. His credit balance will have run out.
From now on his camp will be panicked by the unknown. They have never had to contend with being responsible for the collapse of so many clubs in a row. So even if he has an impressive track record, his abilities are going to be scrutinised more than ever. That is what severe under performance does to everyone.
Suddenly, we are talking, not about a glittering career, but his people skills and ability to build teams. Of course, Jose Mourinho still has some success left in him. Only the very naive would underestimate his ability to milk a performance from his teams especially in the immediate term. But the naked truth is that the lofty reputation of the man has taken such a knocking in recent times.
There was a time when such a debate wouldn’t arise. I just feel that it is different this time round. I feel that all the invincibility about the man has been peeled away by a very poor return at his Chelsea and Manchester United jobs. The man who set a very high benchmark for himself must now go through the same sieve process as lesser mortals - who have known and must explain failure.
And if that go be the case then I just suspect Jose Mourinho has not made the kind of friends one needs when their past reputation is no longer enough to open the doors one wishes open.