JOSE Mourinho is the Teflon don of football management. The 56-year-old from Setubal, a life member of the Largs mafia, is fast becoming to his sport what Boris Johnson is to politics; a man whose personal brand and celebrity somehow seems to rise above all the chaos and destruction he leaves in his wake.

This isn’t personal. In fact, I vividly remember the only audience the great man has ever granted me, a one-to-one in the mixed zone in the immediate aftermath of him masterminding Celtic’s Uefa Cup final defeat in Seville in 2003. This was fully a year before he anointed himself ‘the special one’ and he was the polar opposite of the arrogant caricature he became for the English media.

He must have been dying to crack open his favourite red wine that night but he was magnanimous to a fault with this one last member of the Scottish Sunday press corps, eulogising Celtic under Martin O’Neill and predicting they would be an asset to the Champions League next season.


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Just perhaps that casual charm has worked its magic on Daniel Levy in the last few hours too, though - as the Spurs chairman’s decision to parachute the Portuguese into the hot seat at Tottenham is at best a calculated risk and at worst a reckless gamble. So recently had that role been vacated by Mauricio Pochettino that his chair in the manager’s office must still be warm.

Neither am I saying Mourinho is a bad football manager. His palmares say it all. League titles in Portugal, to go along with Uefa Cup and Champions League wins. Three league titles across two spells as Chelsea manager. A brace of Serie A titles and a Champions League win with Inter. A La Liga crown during a brief, eventful period with Real Madrid. Then there was Manchester United, where he also won things, even if it was only the Uefa Cup and the EFL Cup.

Backed by his formidable talents as a self-publicist, Levy has jumped to offer Mourinho a return to gainful employment – perhaps wary that he might end up at Arsenal, Real Madrid or elsewhere instead. It wasn’t so long ago the suggestion was doing the rounds of him even slumming it in Scottish football with Celtic, but here he is, rumoured to be trousering £15m a year and work with a group of players which made it to the Champions League final just months previously. Nice work if you can get it.

The best you can say for Levy’s decision is that he has gone for an even bigger character to keep the big characters in his dressing room to heel. Even without the veiled comments in the press yesterday to the effect that Pochettino had “lost the dressing room”, one look at the Premier League table is enough to show that something has gone badly awry with this talented Spurs team. They sit 14th, with the former Ajax trio of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Yan Vertonghen all out of contract in the summer and appearing hugely demotivated in recent times.


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Perhaps it was inevitable that Pochettino’s message might eventually grow cold after six years at the club where he reached top four in four of the last five seasons and came closer than most have done to landing both the Premier League and Champions League table. But a rudimentary trawl through Mourinho’s back pages is enough these days to prove that he can usually just about provoke a complete player revolt in two years.

So it was at Chelsea (twice), Real Madrid and Manchester United, where his relationship with star man Paul Pogba disintegrated almost completely and huge sums of money were frittered away on vanity projects such as signing Alexis Sanchez. The pattern is usually the same with Mourinho: an instant bounce, a flat-lining and then eventually an all-out mutiny.

Perhaps, this time is the time where he can provide the instant hit to get Tottenham back on the rails yet leave the fabric of the club intact. With our own Scott McTominay just one young player who has benefited from his tutelage, maybe this time he will do more to work with the club’s academy prospects rather than just spend all the money which Pochettino frequently felt wasn’t given to him.

But don’t bet on it. Bet on the Mourinho experiment coming to an equally abrupt end, due to another outburst or player power, two years down the line.

And just remember, whatever happens, football management’s Teflon don will most likely be able to hand pick the next hot seat he wants to make himself at home in.


IF you frequent online supporter message boards or social media, you may recognise one of the battle lines which tends to be drawn.

One one side are the ‘happy clappers’ - ie those who believe that a club, team or manager is heading in the right direction. On the other are the ‘doom merchants’ - those who feel said entity’s best efforts are bound to end in failure.


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It is in this context that I noted the mantra from manager Steve Clarke about shutting down any negative line of thinking. Whether it was call-offs, our defensive shortcomings, the difficulties of our prospective play-off opponents Serbia and Norway, or the shortage of preparation time, Clarke simply didn’t want to know.

Okay, so burying our heads in the sand won’t make our players better overnight. But by the same token few get got better by continually being told how much worse they are than Kenny Dalglish.

I think Clarke has a point here - perhaps it is a self defence mechanism after years of failure but we ARE too negative and defeatist in this country. It won’t be easy to change that mindset, particularly in world-weary football circles, but like Josh Taylor scribbling out the words ‘future world champion’, thinking positive might just be the first step in getting us to Euro 2020.