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50 shades of Mourinho’s man-management

The Portuguese coach puts his major in psychology to fair use as he employes different techniques to establish unique relationships with each of the Spurs’ players.

By Dalipinder Singh Sandhu (Bliss)

Jose Mourinho, a coach with a strong personality, has managed a breed of players who either fall in love with him or fall-out. The new web series of Tottenham Hotspur gives an insight into his managing skills and interactions techniques that garner the response of such extremity. There are four aspects of sports, the tactical, the technical, the physical, and the emotional. Some might overlook the emotional element, but coaches like Mourinho give it the most weightage.

In the documentary, Jose Mourinho talked to three different players in his office. He is seen asking Harry Kane about his children and then asking him to take an early leave from the training and meet him the following day for breakfast. He talks to him about his potential that Kane admitted could be of the Ronaldo’s and Messi’s calibre. Mourinho told him he has almost reached there, but he needs to “pop”, that a club like Spurs is respectable, the national team of England is revered, but they needed to win titles to crack that final door.

In an empathetic and motivating manner, Mourinho tried to convey the Spurs’ captain how he being a serial winner is here to achieve the same goals for the team and the striker. A reassurance that he needs not leave for bigger clubs to advance his career. Earlier, when Mourinho was on the expert panel of Sky Sports before taking the Spurs’ job, he mentioned that the star players of the team didn’t seem convinced in the club’s prospect. Thus retaining the players and making them believe in the project was one of the first tasks Mourinho undertook.

In the second scenario, Mourinho talks with Dele Alli about his laziness in training. In a rather direct approach without imposing anything, he told the 24-year-old player to introspect why his career couldn’t keep up the same consistency after it sky-rocketed in 2016. The manager talked about Alli’s potential to the club’s president Daniel Levy. He said that during his time at Manchester United, the former boss Sir Alex Ferguson had advised him to sign the English player. Nonetheless, his lethargic training regime required motivation as per the Spurs boss.

Mourinho recognised the potential of Alli and made it clear what he expects from him. In a direct but non-offensive way, he asked him to grasp hold of the situation or else he would look back at this time and regret not making amends. Jose Mourinho has known to be a demanding manager; he asks for 100 per cent of the effort of every player in every training and match. He further told Alli that he doesn’t expect him to score in every game and win the man of the match every time, but to give his all on the pitch.

In the third scenario, the 2-time Champions League winner talked with Eric Dier about why he didn’t play much under the previous manager, Mauricio Pochettino. The response came that returning in the starting-eleven post-injury was difficult under the Argentine coach. Mourinho talked to him about his role in the team and assured him that if he is unhappy, then there won’t be need of any guesswork as he would be told directly.

Dier started the next game against Olympiakos in Champions League group stage. However, by minute 30, he was subbed out due to tactical change by Mourinho in an attempt to overcome the 2-0 deficit, which they did later by winning the game 4-2.

In the pre-game preparations for the following against Bournemouth, Mourinho explained Levy that he’d have to make-it-up to the 26-year-old. “Normally Dier shouldn’t play the next game. But after the big knife, I stabbed in him. Maybe I have to start him in the next game.” Mourinho continued, “maybe I have to sacrifice Winks this time. For the family, for the feeling of the family”.

Dier did start against Bournemouth. This public backing of the player for the harmony of the club may seem like a recently acquired virtue of Mourinho. Nonetheless, in the modern game, it is more than necessary to be sensitive and help the player gain confidence. In the past, Mesut Ozil, a former Real Madrid player, had stated in his autobiography that whenever a team losses, Mourinho tries to divert the criticism from the players to himself by making certain kind of statements in the press.

The web series further provided glimpses of Jose Mourinho demanding his players to leave the good nature outside the pitch and be “bad guys” for 90 minutes. He asks them to fight for every ball, duel, and tackle, to be aggressive in pressing, to put in more energy in the passes and sprints. Finer details of Mourinho trying to communicate with the players in their native tongue, getting to know about their family, and having talks about the correct pronunciation of the name makes it through the final production of the documentary series. Thus, giving an insight into how all the players are addressed individually and in a group to achieve the desired levels of confidence and commitment.

Mourinho has shown to manage each player differently. The style is customised to elicit the desired reaction. Each player gets a different talk depending on his situation and personality. Whilst still managing to uphold a consistent message when communicating to the team at large. Thus, it is no wonder Mourinho has been able to instil a certain mindest wherever he goes in order to win titles.

Previously, the experience of Paul Pogba and Iker Casillas has not been an agreeable one with Mourinho. However, other players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic said that they were “willing to kill” for him. The list of Mourinho’s admirers also includes Eto’o, Arbeloa, Zanetti, Carvalho, and Lampard.

John Terry, the former Chelsea captain, once described the dressing room’s atmosphere when the news of Jose’s sacking broke in 2007. “Full-grown men — crying their eyes out. We were thinking: ‘Where do we go from here?’ We had someone like a father figure, guiding us,” he disclosed.

Recently, Jose Mourinho expressed his displeasure about the change of attitude in the newer generation. He complained about lack of maturity in players aged 23 nowadays whom he described as “brats” and compared them to likes of Lampard who were “men” by the same age. It would seem he has made some changes to his approach in order to adapt. However, it remains to be seen how fruitful his techniques will prove out to be during his time at Tottenham Hotspur.

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