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Is A NATIONAL TEAM Next for The Special One?

5 minute read Published March 19, 2024

I'm European champion, so I'm not one out of the bottle; I think I'm a special one.

A special one, or the Special One. However you feel about Mourinho, there’s no denying that he’s, indeed, special. Supporters and players alike are divided on the man. Some, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien mention him as the best manager they’ve ever had. Others, like Luke Shaw, David Luiz and Iker Casillas, can’t stand him.

He became a guy I was willing to die for. I felt that this guy gives everything for the team, so I wanted to give everything for him. It was a quality he had. People were willing to kill for him. That guy is special.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Jose Mourinho at Roma. Photo: Marco Iacobucci Epp, Shutterstock

The outspoken Portuguese manager was recently sacked by Roma and is currently without a job. What could the future hold for the Special One?

League Performances

In the past few years, Mourinho has taken on management of less competitive teams. Rather than Real Madrid or Abramovic’s most juiced up Chelsea, he’s coached Tottenham, Manchester United and Roma. They’re all big teams, yes, but not in the same way. Tottenham last won a trophy in 2008, the League Cup. Manchester United… well, we all know how they’re doing. And Roma have been struggling for decades at this point.

Between the 2002/2003 and the 2014/12015 seasons, in 13 seasons, he won the league on eight occasions. He got second three times and only finished lower than that twice. At this point, he was the best manager in the world.

After getting sacked 16 games into his third season with Chelsea, he went to Manchester United. Since then, his league record hasn’t been the same. Zero wins and one second place in eight seasons.

Season Team Position (full season or when sacked)
2023/2024 Roma 9*
2022/2023 Roma 6
2021/2022 Roma 6
2020/2021 Tottenham 7*
2019/2020 Tottenham 6
2018/2019 Manchester United 6*
2017/2018 Manchester United 2
2016/2017 Manchester United 6

Cup Performances

Is he past it?

Well, no. Getting second with Manchester United was no small feat. But it’s what he’s done in cup competitions that stands out. Mourinho was always good in cup competitions. When he was also winning the league, it was hard to see just how good. It didn’t stand out as much.

With a very lacklustre Manchester United, Mourinho won the League Cup and Europa League (and the Community Shield). He got Roma their first ever European trophy in the Conference League and, if it wasn’t for some abysmal refereeing, he would have won them their second ever in the Europa League last season.

He also took Tottenham to their first chance at winning a trophy in a decade but was fired just before the game.

He’s always been good in cups, of course. Two time Champions League winner, one with Porto for one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history. And then once with Inter. In total he’s won 18 cup competitions through his 22 years as a manager. He just kept being good at it, even after his league performances declined.

National Team Management?

So, how could he lead teams in cup competitions only? Apart from the Nations League (who cares) national teams only play cup competitions. 

It could possibly also alleviate another issue with Mourinho – his third season. He runs his players hard and eventually they start underperforming. He got three seasons at Chelsea twice, three at Real Madrid, Manchester United and Roma. But give him a team three times during the season and for one longer stretch during the summer and there’s no way he can burn out.

In national team managers he’d also be up against managers that are, let’s be honest, far worse than him. With some exceptions (Mancini, Luis Enrique for example), the quality of national team managers aren’t top of the pack.

Maybe not?

Maybe that’s where the problem is though. The money, the prestige. There’s just not that much of it in being a national team manager. Unless you go on to win a world of continental competition. Even at Roma Mourinho was, reportedly, on a higher salary than any national team manager.

It’d also give him less time to develop players.

According to Mourinho

The question has come up on multiple occasions. According to Mourinho he got the question from the Portuguese national team back in 2022. At that point he chose to stay with Roma. 

The fact that the president of the FPF said that I was not his first choice, but his only choice makes me proud. But I decided not to go. I'm here and that's what matters.

He’s said before that he’d love the experience of managing a team in the World and European Championships. However, he’d rather do it towards the end of his career. At a point where the lower intensity of this kind of job would suit his age. Is that time now?

So where would he go?

Portugal would have been the obvious choice. Fernando Santos held the position from 2014 to 2022. When Mourinho turned down the national team's offer, the job went to Roberto Martinez instead. Having only been there for a little more than a year and considering the length of Santos’ tenure, it might be a while before the job opens up again.

With his Portuguese and the connection between the two countries, Brazil could also be an option. The Selecao arguably has a better team and there’s a world cup just two years out.

But then again, he speaks Spanish, Italian and English. So any of those could work. And England has such a good generation of players coming through, it must be very tempting.

Regardless, football is more fun with Mourinho in it.


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