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Crisis at Chelsea & Inter imploding ... but Jose Mourinho's transfer policy is not to blame - and he's leaving a legacy at Real Madrid
The Portuguese coach has been accused of favouring short-term success over long-lasting gain at his previous clubs, but is building a team for the next decade at the Bernabeu
|Bet:||Returns:||Inter £16.50||Draw £35.00||Catania £47.50|
|Bet:||Returns:||Inter £16.20||Draw £36.00||Catania £60.00|
|Bet:||Returns:||Inter £16.67||Draw £35.00||Catania £50.00|
|Bet:||Returns:||Inter £16.70||Draw £35.00||Catania £55.00|
|Bet:||Returns:||Inter £16.50||Draw £34.50||Catania £49.50|
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
Veni, vidi, vici - I came, I saw, I conquered. Julius Caesar in 47 BC, not Jose Mourinho in 2010 AD.
But the Portuguese coach may have muttered those immortal words more than once as well, at least to himself. Mourinho doesn't usually stay around for long, but long enough to savour success, to vest in victory - wherever he goes.
While the Roman Republic was reinforced and subsequently became an enduring Empire following the death of Caesar, Mourinho's sides struggled after the passing of the Portuguese. The celebrated coach may have conquered Europe with Porto and Inter, and ruled England while at Chelsea, but once he fled, the cracks began to appear.
Yes, he came, he saw, and he conquered. But then he left. And when he did, his teams fell into decline. Roman ruin.
After claiming the Champions League under Mourinho in 2004, Porto endured a chaotic campaign following their parting with the Portuguese, winning the Intercontinental Cup on penalties after an unconvincing display against Colombian club Once Caldas, but losing the league to Benfica and failing to make even the last 16 of their domestic cup competition. They also went through three different coaches.
Chelsea fared better following the departure of the self-styled Special One, but ultimately missed out on the Premier League title, the Champions League and the Carling Cup right at the end under Avram Grant in 2007-08, with Mourinho having departed in October following a falling-out with the Blues' very own Roman, owner Abramovich.
And at Inter, the men from Milan marched to Madrid and European glory for the first time in 45 years, led from the front by their commander in chief. Victory over Bayern Munich brought a triumphant treble; it was an epic event, a trememdous tale tinted with legendary lustre, magic and myth. But after success came a saga: valiant victories were replaced by dramatic defeats.
So can Mourinho be blamed? The Portuguese is often accused of placing short-term sparkle above long-lasting growth at his clubs, and the current crises at Chelsea and Inter would suggest the 49-year-old's transfer policy did indeed lack long-term vision. But is it really his fault? And should Madrid fear failure too once Jose seeks to conquer foreign fields?
Jose Mourinho | SIGNINGS AT CHELSEA
At Porto, nobody was ever likely to achieve the same success as Mourinho; winning the Champions League in 2004 was both unexpected and unprecedented in the modern era. Whoever followed was bound to struggle, especially because many of the side's European heroes had been sold off, too.
At Chelsea, Mourinho brought in two of those, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira, as well as a host of other players as he looked to fulfill Abramovich's ambition: a Roman Empire, gladiatorial glory, continental command.
But in actual fact, although Mourinho set about making Chelsea the greatest team in Britain and beyond, he did so largely on the back of the means already at his disposal. As Claudio Ranieri has pointed out, the Portuguese had been blessed with an excellently equipped unit: Petr Cech and Arjen Robben had already been signed, while John Terry, William Gallas, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole shaped the spine of a spectacular side. The subsequent signings of Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole, plus Mourinho's masterful mind, changed Chelsea from runners-up to front-runners, even if the European dream remained, as Blues fan Suggs once sang, 'One Step Beyond' them.
In truth, though, a look at the incomings at Chelsea during Mourinho's reign proves the Portuguese cannot be charged with the Blues' recent results; Drogba, Terry, Lampard et al are ageing now, beyond the peak of their powers. And over seven years after crossing to The Bridge, Jose can hardly be blamed for that.
In fact, the only players purchased by Mourinho who can be described as short-term solutions are Andriy Shevchenko (who was almost 30 on arrival but was famously brought in by Abramovich, anyway), goalkeeper Hilario (signed as back-up following an injury to Cech) and midfielder Michael Ballack (a world-class player available on a free transfer). Even including those three, the average age of Mourinho's signings at Chelsea is a respectable 24.27 years old. Hardly the short-termism some have suggested.
Jose Mourinho | SIGNINGS AT INTER
** Five players were sent to Genoa in the deals to sign Milito and Motta
*** Barcelona paid Inter €46m for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eto'o moved to Italy as part of the transfer
At Inter, much like at Chelsea, the objective was to eclipse Europe's elite - and claim the continent's premier prize for the first time since 1965. And Massimo Moratti's wish was Mourinho's command: the Portuguese pursued, and in a second season at San Siro he brought home the European Cup, before leaving - immediately, and in the eyes of Inter fans, tragically - for Real Madrid in the aftermath of the club's finest finale.
Since then, Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini and Ranieri have all tried - and failed - to live up to the lost legend that is Mourinho. But they haven't been helped by the legacy of an ageing squad perhaps unlikely to ever hit the heights again following that celebrated campaign in 2009-10.
Of the players purchased by Mourinho, Diego Milito at almost 30 and Lucio at 31 were never going to be long-term hits at San Siro, but more than those brought in during his period on the peninsula, it is the advanced age of those already at the club that is hurting Inter now.
Javier Zanetti continues to impress, but the Argentine is now pushing 40, while Maicon is beyond his best years, Walter Samuel is slowing, Samuel Eto'o has departed and a tired team remains, lacking the legs to mount a serious challenge at home or, seemingly, on the continent.
Jose Mourinho | SIGNINGS AT REAL MADRID
At Real Madrid, such a situation is unlikely to occur. Although club president Florentino Perez hired Mourinho in a desperate attempt to dethrone those fiercest of foes, Barcelona, the Bernabeu boss also instructed his coach to build a team for the future. And even if Mourinho marches on with an ageing army left behind him, Florentino's fullsome funds are likely to ensure an overhaul in playing personnel, in any case.
Mourinho has made two stop-gap signings so far at the Bernabeu. One was striker Emmanuel Adebayor, brought in on loan last January after Gonzalo Higuain was sidelined with a serious injury. And the other is Ricardo Carvalho, the coach's credible comrade at both Porto and Chelsea, and one of the few top-class centre-backs affordable and available in the summer of 2010.
Other than that, Mourinho has sought to sign young blood for his current club; Mesut Ozil arrived at the age of 21, while Angel Di Maria was just 22, Sami Khedira 23 and defender Raphael Varane - bought on the advice, and thanks to the influence, of Zinedine Zidane - is just 18.
Indeed, other than Carvalho, the only other over-25 player brought in by Mourinho at Madrid has been Turk Hamit Altintop - and that was a free transfer for a footballer capable of covering several different positions. And he's hardly a veteran at 28, anyway.
|MOURINHO'S MEN | How much, how old ...
|Players Signed by Mourinho
||Total Cost in Transfers
||Average Age on Arrival
|25||€273.685m||24.27||6 (2 Premier Leagues, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 Community Shield)|
|10||€110m||26||5 (2 Scudetti, 1 Coppa Italia, 1, Supercoppa Italiana, 1 Champions League)|
(Copa del Rey)
"We have signed very young players, with a very large margin for progression and who give the team a very young dimension as a group," Mourinho told Real Madrid TV after returning from his holidays last summer. And he insisted: "We are building a team for the next 10 years."
The statistics appear to back up those claims. Mourinho has signed 10 players on permanent deals at the Santiago Bernabeu and aside from Carvalho and Altintop, the most senior of those is winger Jose Callejon, who has just turned 25.
Overall, the average age of acquisitions under Mourinho at Madrid is a mere 23.6, less than the 24.27 at Chelsea and the considerably-higher mean of 26 from his spell at Inter, which is actually made to look healthier than it is by the cut-price capture of 21-year-old Victor Obinna, who was never likely to feature heavily at San Siro and made just 11 appearances under the Portuguese.
Inter's spectacular success came at a price though. Stay at San Siro for a little longer and Mourinho would have needed to balance his senior squad with fresh faces, younger talent to arrest what has been a disturbing decline.
Nevertheless, he was handed an ageing group in the first place and succeeded in turning that team into champions of Europe, which had been his brief on arrival in Milan. He simply used the tools at his disposal to carve out a tremendous triumph. It was never a long-term plan and the side should have been strengthened significantly on his departure, as Benitez had repeatedly requested.
At Chelsea, a familiar phenomenon is now occurring, with players purchased by Mourinho (such as Drogba, Essien and Florent Malouda) now beyond their best in their twilight years, while those already at the club (like Lampard and Terry) are past the peak of their powers, too.
But almost five years after his Stamford Bridge sortie, the Portuguese's policy in the transfer market can hardly be blamed for that.
At the Bernabeu, things look brighter. Mourinho has already been linked with a summer switch, and the Portuguese's past suggests he is likely to move on sooner rather than later. But the 49-year-old is set to secure a much more epic epitaph at Madrid as he shapes a squad for the brutal battles that lie ahead both now and in the future:
He came, he saw, he conquered - and he left a legacy.
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