Jose Mourinho is number 9 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next two weeks. You can read Tom Gott’s biography of Mourinho here.
Jose Mourinho’s trophy cabinet is utterly astonishing. Having won competitions all over Europe, it should come as no surprise that Mourinho has worked with some fantastic players.
His Porto side took Europe by storm. He turned Chelsea into England’s finest. He made history with Inter. He dominated with Real Madrid and he won plenty of trophies with Manchester United as well. That’s quite a CV.
With so many world-class talents at his disposal, whittling it down to just one all-time XI isn’t easy, but let’s get into it.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Petr Cech (GK) – Chelsea had already agreed a deal to sign Cech by the time Mourinho arrived at Chelsea, but the two combined to lead the Blues to new heights. After being handed his debut by Mourinho, Cech wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the game’s finest goalkeepers, and his record of 202 Premier League clean sheets tells the whole story.
Javier Zanetti (RB) – Mourinho often fielded the versatile Zanetti in midfield for Inter, but he also featured in his natural right-back position. His stamina, coupled with an astonishing technical ability, made the Argentine a potent threat all over the field, and there was simply nothing Zanetti could not do.
Ricardo Carvalho (CB) – Mourinho owes a lot of his success to Carvalho, who was Porto’s outstanding player on their run to Champions League glory in 2004. Unsurprisingly, he spent heavily to bring the centre-back to Chelsea with him, and the pair combined for even more success.
John Terry (CB) – Carvalho’s partner in defence, John Terry helped transform Chelsea into world-beaters. Mourinho had all the money in the world to replace Terry, but instead chose to make him club captain in 2004 – a decision which Terry rewarded with years of outstanding service to both Mourinho and Chelsea.
Ashley Cole (LB) – Signing Cole in 2006 landed Mourinho in a lot of trouble, but he was just so desperate to sign the then-Arsenal man, and understandably so. Cole was a force of nature on the left of the pitch, combining sublime attacking with near-perfect defending.
Claude Makelele (DM) – There’s a reason the best defensive midfielders are always compared to Makelele. Under Mourinho, the Frenchman changed the way we view defending, and his performances for Chelsea left the world in awe.
Frank Lampard (CM) – Lampard was already a starter for Chelsea when Mourinho arrived in 2004, but the influence of the ‘Special One’ on him cannot be understated. Mourinho’s desire for fluid, attack-minded football was perfect for Lampard, who racked up goals and assists for fun.
Deco (CM) - When Mourinho arrived at Porto, he quickly saw something in Deco. The midfielder was tasked with leading the team, and he certainly delivered. He may not have been blessed with real pace or power, but he made it for it in stamina and control. Deco could fly around the pitch with ease, picking the ball up wherever he wants to create chances for his teammates.
Samuel Eto’o (RW) – Signing Eto’o was a fantastic piece of business for Inter, who offloaded Zlatan Ibrahimovic and picked up £40m in the process. He instantly transformed Mourinho’s side from great to outstanding, and he was inspirational in their treble victory in 2010.
Didier Drogba (ST) – Mourinho has previously spoken of his infatuation with Drogba, insisting that, when offered the chance to sign any striker in the world in 2004, he only wanted Drogba. He transformed the Ivorian into one of the game’s finest, and Drogba’s unique blend of speed and power made him the complete forward.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW) - The relationship between Mourinho and Ronaldo was hardly the best, but the pair still combined for some outstanding results. At Real Madrid, Ronaldo established himself as arguably the best player in history, and Mourinho often gave him plenty of creative freedom with which to work his magic.
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