Jose Mourinho Struggling With ‘Third Season’ Syndrome

For a manager commonly regarded as one of the finest in the history of European football, it is remarkable that Jose Mourinho has never stayed at any club beyond three seasons.

He has twice broken contracts of his own volition: first when he joined Chelsea less than a month after winning the 2004 Champions League with Porto and in May 2010, when he left Inter Milan six days after claiming his second European Cup to succeed Manuel Pellegrini at Real Madrid.

Both of these moves for Mourinho may be regarded as “natural departures” — instances when a manager has achieved all that he can at one club and leaves for a more lucrative position with a higher profile rival.

However, the nature of Jose Mourinho’s departure from those “bigger” clubs was marked by acrimony and the parallels, which one can identify between the present situation at Chelsea and the circumstances in which he first departed Stamford Bridge in 2007, do not bode well for the manger’s longterm future.

Immediately upon his arrival at Chelsea in May 2004, Jose proved an astonishing success. He won back-to-back league titles (in 2005 and 2006) and twice reached the semi-final of the Champions League.

By season three, though, cracks were beginning to appear. Reports suggest that Mourinho became embroiled in an internal power-struggle with the club’s then sporting director, Frank Arnesen, and fell out with owner, Roman Abramovich over the signing of Ukraine striker, Andriy Shevchenko from AC Milan.

After missing out on the league title in 2007, Jose Mourinho was sacked a month into the 2007/08 season with three years still to run on the bumper five-year contract extension he signed in the summer of ’05.

A similar pattern played out in Madrid.

While Mourinho missed out on La Liga in his debut season (2010/11), he did win the club’s first Copa Del Rey in 18 years and reached the semi-final of the Champions League. Then, in 2012, he beat Barcelona, arguably the greatest club side of all time, to the league title and earned a new four-year contract to remain as Real Madrid manager til 2016.

Within a year of penning that deal, he was back at Chelsea. High profile fall-outs with key first-team players such as Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, and Cristiano Ronaldo had turned the Madrid dressing-room atmosphere toxic. Mourinho’s relationship with the press, the Spanish FA, and the Madrid board had deteriorated to the extent that his position was untenable by the summer of 2013.

Once more, The Special One was cut-loose after three seasons and despite winning the league in the second season of his second spell in charge of Chelsea, it seems increasingly likely that Mourinho will again depart the club in year three.

Chelsea are enduring their worst start to a first division season in over 30 years.

Their 2-1 defeat against West Ham on Saturday was their fifth loss in 10 league matches; the result was made even more worrying by the disciplinary meltdown that followed Nemanja Matic’s dismissal.

Along with his coach, Silvino Louro, Jose Mourinho was sent to the stand for haranguing referee, John Moss, at half time. He is now facing a second disciplinary charge on top of the £50,000 fine and a one-match-suspended stadium ban that he received for criticizing referee Robert Madley after Chelsea’s defeat against Southampton on October 3.

Jose is losing his grip on Chelsea: the dramatic nature of his capitulation – sacking the club doctor Eva Carneiro, relentlessly sniping at Arsene Wenger, dropping key players, talking up “a conspiracy” against his team – have prompted some commentators, such as Talk Sport’s Dietmar Hamann, to ponder if he wants to be sacked.

The fact that Mourinho will never be short of money makes such a suggestion lack conviction. Indeed it seems more likely that his managerial style is fundamentally short-termist.

He thrives on friction; much of his effectiveness derives from an ability to unite a squad under an “us against the world mentality.” Such a psychology, though, is not sustainable, particularly following success.

There is a dynamic of self-destruction built into the Joe Mourinho model and it is consequently unlikely that he will succeed in his ambition to construct an Alex Ferguson type dynasty at Chelsea.

[Photo By Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Sport]