FC Barcelona, Sports

José Mourinho is the World’s Best Coach? WHAT?!?

Grant Wahl over at Sports Illustrated has a sycophantic panegyric masquerading as a story on Real Madrid’s José Mourinho in this week’s SI. Here’s a sampling (emphasis added):

Mourinho can’t help himself. He is by turns smart, vain, funny, needy, tough and as thin-skinned as a pinot grape. But who’s to argue with him? He has a gift. No coach today compares.

In other words, Mourinho’s ability to connect is equal parts psychology and linguistics. To sit across from Mourinho and interview him is to be subject to a form of high-level seduction, though not in a sexual way. He’ll lean close, elbows on knees, hands folded together, as though he’s sharing a secret that nobody else knows. Is it a kind of performance art? Of course. But isn’t most of sports? The details are in the delivery, and invariably Mourinho’s players, to say nothing of the global media, buy what he is selling. If Ferguson is known for the scorching-hot diatribes of a drill sergeant, Mourinho is the sports world’s version of a pickup artist.

He hasn’t lost a league game at home in nine years and is eyeing an unprecedented third Champions League title with a third team. Real Madrid’s maestro may be the best coach in any sport, anywhere.

Va-va-va-VOOM. Way to go, Grant. Interview-as-seduction? I haven’t heard that one before (by my own choice).

How about some facts? When searching for those in the world of La Liga, The Guardian’s Sid Lowe is EASILY the best English-speaking/writing source. Funny, Grant—he also writes for Sports Illustrated! You also quoted him in your article on Mourinho…but from the pre-season. Perhaps you should check Lowe’s latest in the Guardian? Here’s Lowe, comparing last year’s Real Madrid coach, Manuel Pellegrini, with Mourinho (by the numbers):

[Pellegrini] hadn’t even been that bad. Madrid had been humiliated in the Copa del Rey and were eliminated from the Champions League. But everyone else had been knocked out at that stage too – for each of the past six years. And in the league, Madrid challenged Barcelona; beaten just 1-0 at the Camp Nou, they had more points at this stage last season than Mourinho’s team do now. A late winner against Sevilla meant that at this stage they were top. Now they are seven points behind. They went into the final day with a chance of winning the title. And racked up 96 league points – a club record.

Let’s do this in list form. Mourinho’s Madrid are currently:
1) Ten points back from first place (a win tonight against Santander would close the gap to seven).
2) Embarrassed 5-0 in the Camp Nou against FC Barcelona
3) In the Copa del Rey final against FC Barcelona
4) In the Round of 16 of the Champions League (1-1 after the away leg in Lyon)

Last year at this point, Pellegrini’s Madrid were:
1) In first place, with MORE points than Mourinho’s Real Madrid at this stage
2) Lost 1-0 in the Camp Nou to FC Barcelona
3) Out of the Copa del Rey
4) In the Round of 16 of the Champions League (eventually eliminated)

[[Worth noting: this is after Mourinho orchestrated €75 million in off-season upgrades to the squad. Might also be worth noting that Madrid splashed €254 million in the previous off-season. Mourinho (and Pellegrini) are each operating with the best talent that money can buy.]]

Now look, the point-by-point analysis isn’t conclusive. It’s impressive that Mourinho has Madrid alive in two-and-a-half competitions (because La Liga is looking increasingly out-of-reach). However, it’s certainly NOT proof that he’s “the best coach in any sport, anywhere.” He’s a good coach, but it’s not even clear that he’s a better coach than Manuel Pellegrini.

His value-added this year? Since Madrid could very well be eliminated from the Champions League this week, all we can say conclusively is that Mourinho managed to successfully navigate the Copa del Rey. Pellegrini, with less money in the squad (if you can ever say that at the world’s richest club), out-performed Mourinho in La Liga.

La Liga: Pellegrini
Copa: Mourinho
Champions League: TBD

My point being, that he’s a fine coach, but he might not even be better than the man he replaced.

Oh, but he’s so very handsome, right Grant?

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30 thoughts on “José Mourinho is the World’s Best Coach? WHAT?!?

  1. you mustn’t follow soccer because he is actually considered the greatest coach EVER because of how many trophies he has won in diferent and contrasting leagues with different styles. he hasn’t lost a home game in 9 years. to say he isnt even better than the man he replaced is just naive and ignorant. he won a champions league and uefa cup in back to back season with porto, huge underdogs in europe then he took a team that hasnt won a major euroepan cup in 60 plus years and did it in his 2nd year there. And you are very incorrect on when you said he did it with more money than pelligrini. mourinho spent less money on his signings then just the cost of what real paid for kaka the past year during pelligrini. In his first year mourinho has achieved more than pelligrini when you take all competions into account.

    Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 2:51 pm
    • Slow down, champ. Now READ what I wrote. I wrote that there is “more money in the squad” now than under Pellegrini (spell it right, guy). Since Mourinho has the benefit of most of the players Pellegrini bought (254 million euros) AND the ones he bought (75 million euros), he’s got a squad with more money invested than Pellegrini. This is simple addition.

      Now, as far as his record this year goes, the numbers aren’t very much in his favor. He’s definitely done better than Pellegrini in the Copa del Rey, and if Madrid advance next week against Lyon, he’ll have done better in the Champions League. Pellegrini’s squad had more points in La Liga at this point, though. There’s no debate about that. Mourinho’s gotten less results out of his team in La Liga than Pellegrini (also: losing 0-5 in the Camp Nou is worse than losing 0-1).

      As I wrote in the post (you really oughta read it), Mourinho’s a fine coach, but the fact that he’s not clearly outperformed last year’s coach is a sign that he might be overhyped.

      Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 3:04 pm
      • but your basing him not as worlds greatest coach by 1 season he hasnt even completed yet. You dont reconize what he has done with the other clubs he was out previously at. You use the 5-0 lost barcelona as a reason why he is not the best but do you realize barca are the greatest team in soccer ever. while pelligrini lost 4-1 in the copa del rey to a 3rd divion team. the previous year mourinho beat barca in the semifinals of the champions league too with an inferior team of inter. real madrids lost to barca can be considered a fluke too since after the 2 goal the team just gave up and fights sprang up between the teams.

        Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 3:14 pm
        • Love it! The world’s greatest coach has a team that quits after they’re down by two goals? The world’s greatest coach is only struggling because his rivals are “the greatest team in soccer ever?” The world’s greatest coach amasses seven points less than his predecessor?

          Funny—I would have expected better from the world’s greatest coach, especially given his tough talk at the beginning of the season.

          Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 3:20 pm
  2. may i add also he won the “world best coach award” this year beating the coach who won the world cup and the coach who coahes the best team on earth barcelona. if you didnt know its voted by all national team coaches and captains on who wins and he won by a landslide. In one year mourinho has won more trophys than Bill Belechick has won super bowls in his career.

    Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 2:57 pm
  3. i mean just look at his wikipedia, 1st paragraph even says players and other coaches alike consider him the greatest coach ever.

    Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 3:16 pm
    • Wait…you’re seriously claiming that “because someone wrote it on wikipedia, it must be true?”

      The line you’re talking about isn’t even grammatically correct!

      “It is known among experts, players and coaches, as the greatest coach in football history.”

      “It?” Is Mourinho a robot? Do you mean “He is known…?”

      You’re going to have to do a lot better than that.

      Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 3:23 pm
  4. @wow, although I agree that the Sport’s Illustrated article isn’t based on this season alone let’s not get carried away and declare him the greatest coach ever just yet (and I hope you’re only referring to soccer unlike Mr. Wahl’s article was suggesting). I’d have to agree that he’s the best soccer coach of the past decade but the rest is yet to be decided, only time will tell. What he did with Porto was impressive and Chelsea to a lesser extent. At Inter he had a top notch squad that already was used to winning when he came in and with Madrid he’s working with all the money and prestige that comes with being at the greatest club of the 20th century. His treble last year was quite an accomplishment but Pep Guardiola won all 6 competitions in his first year and they could repeat that this year. Like Xavi said, Pep will be the one remembered for changing football. Many have filled their trophy cabinets but very few have changed the game.

    Posted by Let's Get the Record Straight | March 11, 2011, 3:45 pm
  5. wow, so please explain why he won the most prestigious award given in world soccer for managers voted by fellow managers and team captains???? please you just don’t want to be proven wrong. heck even the manager of barcelona admits that jose mourinho is the greatest manager of the world. You really are now arguing about the way the wikipedia sentence was written because it says “it”? In the soccer world if you actually said Mourinho is overrated or not the best even today you would be laughed at. Please just look again at his wikipedia page and look at all the tophies he has won, with chelsea he won the league for them the 1st time in their history. He has won the league in 2 of the top 3 leagues in the world with just the spanish league being the other where. Seriously how can soccer experts the world over say he is the best but you who probably has no experience with the sport say he isnt even better than the guy he took over from.

    Posted by Wow | March 11, 2011, 5:03 pm
    • Listen, kid-winning an award one time, one year does not make a coach the greatest of all time in any sport. Surely you know that. Adrien Brody won an Oscar for Best Actor—that doesn’t make him the greatest actor of all-time.

      As for Wikipedia…I’m arguing that a poorly-written sentence on a publicly-edited website is not proof that Mourinho is the best coach of all time. Shoot-when I started writing for the Washington Post, someone briefly put up a wikipedia page about ME. That doesn’t make me the world’s greatest journalist, nor does it mean that everything in the wikipedia article was true.

      Now look—not to engage in petty insults here—you keep assuming that I don’t know anything about football, but:

      1) You’ve been repeatedly misspelling the name of Madrid’s last coach in your comments.
      2) You referred to the Alcorconazo, when Real Madrid lost to a Second Division-B side in the Copa del Rey…except you called them a Third Division side (Alcorcón haven’t been in the Third Division since 2000).

      So don’t throw stones from your glass house, eh? If you see any factual errors in my post, feel free to call those to my attention, but until you find any, you can assume that I’m pretty familiar with La Liga.

      Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 5:21 pm
      • Come on, please don’t argue trivial things. Wikipedia and name spelling, etc. These are not points to be used to defend your argument.

        Posted by amouria | March 11, 2011, 6:26 pm
        • As I noted when I brought it up-I’m only making that point because “Wow” made it a central part of his argument that I don’t follow football.

          Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 6:29 pm
      • Alcorcon where in 3rd level league. They played in Segunda B then got promoted to Segunda Division and if they win that league then they get promoted to Primera. Segunda B is a third level league. Do i get a cookie for proving you wrong again?

        Also the coach of the year is in its inaugural year and mourinho is the 1st won to win it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_Ballon_d%27Or#Best_Coach.

        Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 6:30 pm
        • Wait—Segunda-B translates to Second-B. Tercera=Third. There’s a Third division in Spain, and Alcorcón has played in it before. That’s its name. When you say “third division team,” that’s the one you’re talking about.

          It’s pretty strange to say “third division” when you really mean “second division B,” don’t you think?

          Emil Jannings won the first Oscar for Best Actor. This doesn’t mean he’s the best actor of all time on all stages and in all movies, does it? Winning an award for the first time doesn’t mean that it won’t be given ever again.

          Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 6:39 pm
        • But i’m using your argument against you about mourinho not even being better then pellegrini. If he won this award i highly doubt pelligrini is better than him. People universally say messi the best today and they say the same thing about mourinho. do you truely belive you are better to judge than players, coaches and experts in soccer.

          Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 6:49 pm
  6. ” Like Xavi said, Pep will be the one remembered for changing football. Many have filled their trophy cabinets but very few have changed the game.”

    let´s be honest here…Pep is playing with a sytem that begun twenty years ago Rimus Mitchell (at that time he didn´t have power to use the system), later Cruyff used the system effectively…and put the backbone of the system…Rijaard sharpened also the system for a few years, and finally Guardiola tuned it a bit more (i.e., attackers are now defending agressively -and as a team-when the lose the ball, etc…)…

    Pep has the best middlefield players in the world: Xavi Iniesta
    Pep has the best attacker in the wolrd: Messi (happens about every 20 years)
    Pep may have the best lateral in the world: Alves
    Puyol and Busquets may be considerd among top 2-3 in their position. Same for Piqué, Valdes, Villa, etc…

    let´s get the things straight here…with that team, my grandmother can be Europan champion as a trainer….will be nice to see Guardiola in another team, or without Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, and see waht he *really* is capable of…. but Guardiola will probably resign next years, as he knows the their players will not be able to outperform other for long time (Xavi now 31 years,, Puyol 32 years, messi may get injured, etc…)…

    Now, if Guardiola changes to another club, and makes another triplete (with not so good players), hands up. Until then, Mourinho has proven to be the better trainer.

    Posted by Takai | March 11, 2011, 6:08 pm
    • You really got it right. You said all what I wanted to say. Without those genius players, Guardiola won’t be able to shine (if at all). Let’s remember, Mourinho won the European Champions with a team that as small and poor as Porto, so, give me a break.
      For those who speak ill of Mourinho, read history first..

      Posted by amouria | March 11, 2011, 6:23 pm
      • Did I speak ill of him? Let’s check the post (I recommend it—you should read it!):

        “It’s impressive that Mourinho has Madrid alive in two-and-a-half competitions (because La Liga is looking increasingly out-of-reach). However, it’s certainly NOT proof that he’s “the best coach in any sport, anywhere.” He’s a good coach, but it’s not even clear that he’s a better coach than Manuel Pellegrini.”

        I repeatedly note in the post that Mourinho is a good coach. I only argue that he’s not necessarily the best of all-time in all sports. Is that so outlandish?

        Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 6:31 pm
    • This is a pretty fair point. Guardiola and Barça are playing with a stacked deck at the moment. Of course, my post wasn’t about Guardiola. I’m not sure he’s the best coach in the world at the moment, let alone of all-time, let alone all-time in all sports. I’m not going to compare him to Mourinho either, since that’s not what I was writing about here.

      I suppose the best defense of Guardiola’s quality would be the comparison between his team and Rijkaard’s. They both had remarkable players, but Guardiola gets the very best out of his squad almost every game.

      Does Mourinho? Dunno. As “Wow” put it above, his team has phoned in their efforts a number of times this year. I noticed the same thing after the last Clásico.

      Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 6:27 pm
      • are you kidding me? Jose Mourinho is known for getting the best out of his players, I mean you really don’t watch any soccer at all to know this. I mean ask anybody in football about what mourinho does best and they will instinctively say he builds team cohesion and gets the best out of old and underperforming players.

        Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 6:45 pm
      • i never said they fought among themselves i said they fought barca players. please dont distort my words. It all started going downhill for real madrid once the ronaldo-pep altercation happened then the ramos punching puyol in the face.

        Posted by wow | March 11, 2011, 6:52 pm
        • No, that’s not what you said. You said:

          “after the 2 goal the team just gave up and fights sprang up between the teams.”

          I’m not distorting anything. You said that Mourinho’s team gave up after going down by two goals. Is that the same as “getting the best out of his players?”

          Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 6:54 pm
  7. there is a video on youtube

    for those who don´t speak spanish, Guardiola says (it was his first year, so he was a bit naive: “without Messi, I would train in second division”). Since Guardiola began as trainer in Barça, he scored about 450 goals (all competitions, 3 years) ; of them, Messi scored about 170 (I guess, not sure about exact number), if we add asistencias, HALF of the goals (more or less) , directly and inmediately indirectly, are produced by Messi…nough´said…

    Posted by Takai | March 11, 2011, 6:32 pm
  8. One thing you need to say: You are an explicit Barca. Then everything will be clear. The 5-0 is painful for RM but so the 11-1 painful to Barca. To take one game out of context and keep repeating the same jargon is not a sign of good journalism. Sorry, I though you are serious!

    Posted by amouria | March 11, 2011, 6:34 pm
    • The 11-1 match came after Franco’s fascist police threatened the Barça squad in the dressing room. Surely you’re joking.

      Then on the day of the match, to make sure Barça’s players got the centralist message, Spain’s director of state security visited their dressing room just before kick-off. Packing a loaded gun – though some Madridistas question the packed piece – he quietly reminded the visitors that “you are only playing because of the generosity of the regime that has forgiven you for your lack of patriotism”. A singular inspirational team talk having been delivered, the following kickabout was only ever going to end one way. Real scored early, then made it two on the half-hour, whereupon Barça, fearing lethal consequences, properly capitulated; it was 8-0 to Madrid by half-time. The second half was a relative non-event, the game ending 11-1.


      Posted by CPW | March 11, 2011, 6:41 pm


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