When Jose Mourinho arrived at Chelsea for his second spell at the helm, he inherited a team with Juan Mata as the creative hub. The Spaniard had been named in the PFA team of the season. He had been at Stamford Bridge for two years and been chosen as the club’s player of the season in each of those campaigns. He had provided 25 assists and 18 goals, a more than decent return in a side that finished sixth and third and never really challenged for a title.
Yet six months into Mourinho’s reign as manager, Mata was unceremoniously sent packing to Manchester United during the January transfer window. During his time under Mourinho, Mata started just five Premier League games before December and failed to complete 90 minutes in any of those games.
The following season, Mourinho brought in Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona. It took Mourinho all of one conversation to seal the deal. It’s especially surprising because Fabregas was an Arsenal player – and captain – during Mourinho’s first stint at Chelsea. The pair later took that rivalry to Spain where Mourinho managed Real Madrid and Fabregas earned his bread with Madrid’s arch rivals.
There was animosity between the pair too. Just a year before he would join Mourinho in London, the midfielder told his future boss to “shut up’ after he had criticised Barcelona’s performances in the Champions League before telling him to ‘mind his own business’.
A couple of days ago Manchester United officially announced the £75m deal for Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. The deal means Lukaku will be reunited with Mourinho – a man who publicly questioned his motivation and mentality when he managed Lukaku at Chelsea.
Yet again, all it took was one text from Mourinho to seal this deal.
The importance of Mino Raiola – the super agent who gave United Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – can’t be downplayed either.
Still, few managers are able to fracture and instantly repair relationships with high-profile players like Jose Mourinho. The man is a serial winner but he’s also a serial charmer.
We’ve seen this kind of behaviour before, especially in relationships. You may have heard of how women always fall for the bad boys. That’s no myth. In fact, that observation isn’t just restricted to women. According to research conducted by the University of Graz, Austria, people find narcissists and psychopathic tendencies alluring – especially when it comes to short-term relationships.
And when you come to think of it, every football transfer is a short-term relationship.
Mourinho is a narcissist: “Please don’t call me arrogant… I’m European champion. I’m not one of the bottle. I think I’m a special one.”
Mourinho has shown Machiavellian characteristics: “How do you say cheating in Catalan? Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many great theatres and this boy has learned very well. He’s learned play-acting.”
Mourinho is psychotic:
He exhibits all three personality traits that, according to people much smarter than me, make him irresistible as a perspective partner – on the field, I feel compelled to add. Of course, it helps that he’s also a proven winner and will stop at nothing to win. So what if he’s been on a downward trajectory for the last two years?