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El Clasico: Is Jose Mourinho really the "Special One"?

Should Barcelona still be afraid of Mourinho?
Should Barcelona still be afraid of Mourinho?

Jose Mourinho is the self-proclaimed "Special One". The majority thinks he has rightfully earned the title he bestowed upon himself. To prove his case he likes to point to well-stacked trophy cabinet. However, they fail to recognise a couple of key points.

These points, I believe, show that Mourinho is "merely" another excellent manager, rather than the managerial messiah some revere him as.

1. Luck

Sure you "can’t change your luck", and you "can only beat what is put in front of you", but luck has played a massive part in Mourinho’s managerial career.

For instance, a vast majority of Mourinho’s fans regard his UEFA Champions League success with Porto as his pièce de résistance. Though, like many football fans, (myself included) they will leave out anything that could tarnish this feat.

Throughout the competition, Porto were fairly lucky with the draws. Porto’s group was quite difficult, but apart from drawing Manchester United in the round of 16, their path to the final was relatively straight-forward.

Judge for yourselves: Porto were drawn against Manchester United, Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna en-route to their showdown with Monaco, but the French side had to overcome tricky journeys to Lokomotiv Moscow, Real Madrid and Chelsea!

Monaco clearly had the tougher time of the two, and if you look at the route that Barcelona took to win their third Champions League in 2008/09 (ties against vastly improved sides from 2003/04 Lyon and Manchester United alongside games against European powerhouses Bayern Munich and Chelsea), it pales in comparison.

Also conveniently forgotten is the aforementioned tie with Manchester United, the second leg in particular. The return leg saw a legitimate Paul Scholes goal disallowed, and the last minute winner was only possible due to an individual error by Tim Howard.

Then again, it can’t be fair to dismiss this triumph, but surely, there isn’t enough merit to consider it a miracle?

After progressing to the final, Jose Mourinho’s Porto were to face Monaco in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Not exactly the most glamorous Champions League final in memory is it?

The game itself was dominated by a Giuly-inspired Monaco side for the first 20 minutes, where club captain, (Giuly) could’ve scored four goals in the opening five minutes. It looked a matter of when Monaco were going to score, but on 22 minutes, Giuly was substituted and Monaco were understandably shocked.

The Monaco side didn’t compensate Giuly’s absence, and Porto capitalized on the shift in momentum. Although it can be argued that had Giuly stayed on the pitch, Porto probably would’ve lost.

Fast forward to last season and the second leg of Inter’s Champions League semi-final. Gerard Pique had just scored the breakthrough, Inter were on the ropes, and the Blaugrana were mounting attack after attack.

Guardiola’s men needed an extra goal to progress and they had it! The ball had its way to Bojan, via Yaya Toure, and the young Spaniard finished with aplomb. Except it wasn’t allowed as Yaya Toure was perceived to play a handball, the most blatant ball-to-hand I have ever seen.

That night lady luck was on Mourinho’s side.

2. Over-Reliance

A common misconception in the footballing world is the claim that Barcelona are overly dependent on Argentine goal-machine, Lionel Messi.

It’s understandable where these beliefs come from, and heck, they might be true, but if you delve into the statistics for a Mourinho-managed side, you may well be in for a surprise.

Up until this point, the pairing of Karim Benzema and Ronaldo has gained Real Madrid 16 league points. Considering that Madrid have 76 points, that means Benzema and Ronaldo are accountable for 21% of Los Merengues’ league total.

Go back a year to the treble-winning Inter Milan team, and you can see that Diego Milito meant an extra 21 points to Inter in Serie A. In contrast, the overly dependent Barca accumulated "just" 16 league points from Messi strikes.

At the last count, 21 is bigger than 16.

This leads us to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A flop at Barcelona, Ibrahimovic accounted for 19 points for the then-Mourinho managed Internazionale side of 2008/09. Still more than Messi did in his 47-goal season.

The "Special One" has also a special fondness for Ricardo Carvalho, who has played for every Mourinho team, bar Inter Milan and his first managerial stint, Uniao Leira.

Mourinho’s teams are usually set-up to an identical 4-2-3-1 formation, with a strong spine, whom Jose will declare the best in their relative positions (e.g. Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba at Chelsea, and Julio Cesar, Lucio, Snjeider and Milito at Inter).

The main focus of a Jose Mourinho team is to defend, and to hit the opposition on the counter and score.

Many "purists" regard this as anti-football, and countless examples show that it is easier to achieve results with this philosophy, as a pose to the "Total Football" served up by Barcelona.

After all, Greece won the Euro 2004 with an anti-football approach. Would they have done this attempting to play Total Football?

I doubt it.

Mourinho has a tried and tested formula, for which I applaud him, but did he create it? He might think so, but isn’t the Mourinho approach merely a by-product of Cantenaccio? If it is, then Helenio Herrera is the true creator.

Barcelona and Guardiola on the other hand, are creating a new way to play football. As Spanish journalist Guillem Balague formulated it "this style of play is all new" and that we are seeing a team where "the goalkeeper must be able to play with the ball" and where the "full-backs are basically wingers" but they are still adept defensively.

Besides, we are also seeing the pressure from the front, with FC Barcelona’s superstar forwards working as hard as any player on the pitch.

I would consider that fairly new contributions to the game.

Surely the best coach in the world wouldn’t need to be reliant on certain players, and would have his own tactics?

Is Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho as Special as he thinks he is? Well, whenever I think of him, a certain song by Shania Twain pops into my head…

He thinks of himself as a genius, something special. Don’t get me wrong, he’s alright, but that don’t impress me much.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to check out part 1 to Saturday’s El Clasico preview, Part II and "The Blast from the Past" article on Laszlo Kubala by our newest addition, Paul Udani.

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Referees Robs Barcelona ( Barcelona Vs Inter ) Cheats | Robbery Referees ! (via Barcaloni19)

Scholes disallowed goal vs. Porto, 9/3/2004 (via danegel)

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