Name: José Mario dos Santos Mourinho Félix
Job: Football Manager
Net worth: Approx $50M
What made Jose Mourinho “the Special One”?
“Please do not call me arrogant because what I say is true. I’m European champion. I’m not one out of the bottle, I think I’m a special one.”
Yes, this is where Mourinho’s famous nickname “the Special One” came from. It is the nickname appointed by Mourinho himself during the press conference when he first arrived at Chelsea.
Although some insist that ‘the Special One’ is not special anymore, especially since he got sacked from Manchester United in December last year, he is still undoubtedly one of the most legendary top-class (and controversial) football managers in the world with a very strong and solid personal brand.
Beginning his coaching career in 2000 with Benfica, Mourinho claimed the first of two Portuguese titles in 2003, won the Uefa Cup, and then won the Champions League the following season. That success earned him a move to England with Chelsea, where he obtained the Premier League title in each of his first two seasons, as well as the FA Cup once and the League Cup twice.
In 2008, Mourinho joined Italian club Inter Milan, where he won the Serie A title in his first season, before leading the club to become the first Italian side to win the Treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia and UEFA Champions League) in 2010. After spending three seasons as head coach at Real Madrid, Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013, and secured Chelsea’s first league title for four years in 2014. He was then appointed at Manchester United in 2016, where he won the UEFA Europa League and EFL Cup in his first season. He was also named the best Portuguese coach of the century by the Portuguese Football Federation in 2015.
As you can see from his glittering career achievements, it is not difficult to assume how he forged such a high opinion of himself.
“We have top players and, sorry if I’m arrogant, we have a top manager.”
So what kind of factors impelled him to take the special position in the world football industry
As already seen from the above, he has been successful in every city he has worked in. While it is true that the procedure you have gone through or methodology you have used until you reach the top can constitute a part of your brand, such thing usually comes into the spotlight later once your tangible achievements are well recognized by the public.
While Mourinho is also known for his tactical strategies to win the game, it is his repeated career achievements as a manager with consecutive teams what has played a bigger role in establishment of his invincible personal brand.
Relentlessness and outspokenness
“It is not a conspiracy, it is fact. I speak facts. If not, I need big glasses.”
His ‘special’ aura is certainly formed, to a great extent, by his relentless will and passion to win games.
At the same time, his ‘special’ aspect even stretches out to his special ability of relentlessly causing controversies. Famous for raising various eyebrows by initiating a war of words with his counterparts and officials, Mourinho has made a number of infamous comments and outbursts down the years, which have always given strong competition to his managerial triumphs for making it to the front pages (We will look into these memorable controversies in detail below).
He has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, even if he had to take the expense of going downhill in his career path. However, it is also his unyielding personality of being unafraid of shouting out outspoken comments that won him many ardent and maniac supporters.
Mourinho ’s self-acknowledgment is second to none. There are plentiful of comments made by him with unbelievable level of self-recognition like:
“I have a problem, which is I’m getting better at everything related to my job since I started.”
He appears to have arrived at the conclusion that he is brilliant, which is, in fact, undeniable given the best results he has achieved and fortunes he has got paid for running big clubs. While some critics say that he demands for “respect” too much – even to a theatrical level, such demands actually come from his self-respect and a deep belief that he has done enough to be treated differently.
Personal branding traits
Jose Mourinho’s brand is so powerful that it even outshines that of his club or his star players. So it would be worth spending time and efforts to look into his personal branding traits.
However, we need to take a careful approach, as Mourinho is not right about everything, and there are definitely some points that he should have done differently.
- He is a charismatic.
He is a charismatic leader. For example, he invites every player to an “interview” when he first joins a club. It is to understand his players, their character and motivation – and see how they react to being quizzed by him. During the interview, his messages are unequivocal. Mourinho promises to be direct and say what he means to their faces; he tells them he will not tolerate gossip and, even less so, leaks from the dressing room – which can become a damaging obsession for him, as witnessed at Real Madrid and Chelsea; that the door to his office is always open; and that it is compulsory to wear shin guards during training because they will be working hard.
Being a charismatic leader and winning respect from players is however not easy to Mourinho as well. In order to gain ‘charismatic authority’ from players, he approaches emotionally as well as technically. Especially, when it comes to his training tactics, he once said “It is not easy to put this theory into practice, especially with top players who are not prepared to accept everything they are told just because it comes from you, the authority …”. Mourinho’s solution is to persuade players by example of the efficacy of the Mourinho model until they instinctively reach for a Mourinho solution, so that they are made to feel they own the conclusions Mourinho wants them to reach. In other words, his charisma is what he created by himself based on his own philosophy and tactics.
Meanwhile, he is charismatic to the press as well, which directly affects the public forming opinions about Mourinho. There are so many outspoken comments of him targeting the press such as: “I have a lot of respect for Liverpool fans and what I did, the sign of silence – ‘shut your mouth’ – was not for them, it was for the English press.”
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- He is detail-oriented.
Mourinho is renowned for his detailed research on his opponents. Mourinho’s match preparation is legendary. While he learned from Van Gaal the importance of analyzing the opposite side, he is far more aggressive than his mentor.
He has also learnt to cut down on the information given to the players. There will be detailed analysis, video clips, emails and even text messages to individual players but they are much shorter and sharper. At Real Madrid Mourinho began to boil it down to two or three key video clips about the team they would next face and play them in a loop in the dressing room, medical room, gym and canteen during the week before the match.
- He is passionate about his works
He is hungry for success and this led him to the current position.
He is passionate about what he does and his quick reaction to game’s events has earned him a lot of praises. As a great manager, he takes a lot of time in establishing the possible events of the next game.
- He does not stand back.
Mourinho is well-known for taking a firm stance on what he believes in, and refusing to stand back and compromise.
Even when it comes to tactics and methodologies of training players, he has his own ‘bible’ based on his ideas and experiences he has complied ever since he was coaching the juniors at Vitoria de Setubal back in Portugal. Working as a club manager, it is sometimes required to harmonize the club’s identity and the manager’s individual philosophy. However, it seems that such thing is not written in Mourinho’s ‘bible’. He is said to have brought on a transformation of the Real Madrid’s brand identity while he was working as a manager of the team, which has drawn many criticisms especially from old Real Madrid fans that the club’s identity was diluted by the individual. Similar issues occurred while he was coaching the Manchester United team before he has given the sack.
There is a famous saying that Mourinho uses when he first addresses the players after he takes over at a football club. “In the boat or off it”, which literally means if players buy in Mourinho’s style, they will be in, but otherwise they will be out.
- He is too self-oriented.
In December last year, Mourinho was given the sack from the Manchester United due to a lack of progress in form, style of play and development of their young players.
While the team’s poor performance also played a role in his sack, the biggest reason is understood to be attributed to Mourinho’s ego which is too strong and uncompromising that it resulted in jeopardizing the harmony at the club, where he stripped Paul Pogba of the second captain’s role in September. He is also known to have had clashes not only with his players but also with directives of the team. It seems obvious that his self-oriented and strong personality makes him difficult to peacefully get along with others who have a different point of view from his.
- He is short-tempered.
Mourinho lacks the ability of controlling his temper, which from time to time leads him to make blatant mistakes. One monumental event would be unarguably the famous incident which took place during his stint at Real Madrid. That is, Mourinho poked a finger in the eye of Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova after a wild tackle by Madrid defender Marcelo.
This incident gave a furious start to an already intense game. The game infuriated several red cards, hence the game finished 3-2 in the favour of the Blaugranas. Dishonorably, it is considered to be the most highlighted moment in his three year stint at Madrid (as his stint at Real Madrid was not a smooth ride and thus was prone to criticism from the Royal’s fanbase), but Mourinho refused to say sorry to Vilanova for the reason that he was defending the interests of Real Madrid.
How he uses media to get attention
Mourinho is best known for his wild comments on media interviews, which resulted in several media controversies around him. At any rate, he tried to use the media strategically to establish his status and foster appearance of success, with which he is highly concerned.
“Facing the press is not easy, but because you have to go, you have to try to take a lot of positive things for yourself from these face-to-face meetings.”
How he will be remembered
Despite several weaknesses and controversies surrounding him, he is still a legendary football manager with an irreplaceable and strong personal brand.
However, in order for him to be remembered as ‘the Special One’ in the long term, not only as a gossip-maker who once did a good job, he needs to change. He should engage with people in different ways to the ones he employed at United, especially with the kindness and empathy rather than authoritative and self-oriented attitude.
Admitting one’s weakness is always hard, and even harder especially to those who have a strong ego like Mourinho. Nevertheless, Mourinho should understand that admitting weakness is what makes him stronger, not weaker, and is also a way he can leave a long-term legacy as a great leader. As Michael Caulfield, a sports psychologist, said, “Showing weakness is a great strength, more than ever now”.
What we can learn
- Having a firm stance and clear opinion helps you build a strong and obvious personal brand.
- Strong self-belief can contribute to establishing brand loyalty. Once the brand loyalty is established, it becomes easier to forgive mistakes of the brand than those of others, and such tendency gets even stronger when the loyalty applies to individuals than it does to brands themselves.
- Wild and relentless comments may impress the public for a certain amount of time, but if they are not followed by your responsibility, outputs and respect to others, it will ultimately give louder voice to critics.
- These days, social media is even more powerful than traditional media organization. If you do not have strong social media presence, you may suffer and lose supports from the public, even if you have made a lot of impressive press interviews.
- The sign of a great leader is when he admits his weakness and changes his stance.
Brizzo is a dynamic and energetic investor, marketing strategist, musician and online reputation specialist. He is the Co-Founder of AICY Create, https://www.aicy-create.com/, a leading marketing agency based in China, with expertise in Personal Branding and China Digital Marketing.