Mourinho: Italian football key to my tactical philosophy
Controlling player power and managing swollen egos are two of the main challenges facing coaches today, according to Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.
Famed for his methods of motivation and use of psychology, Mourinho spoke at length about the challenges of modern management at the Dubai International Sports Conference on Friday.
The Portuguese boss was eager to stress the importance of knowing how to cope with players whose personalities can be altered by extreme wealth and fame.
Man management is a key feature of Mourinho’s coaching style with the Portuguese sometimes commanding almost cult-like devotion from former players like Didier Drogba and Marco Matterazzi and continually getting the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, according to Mourinho, achieving the requisite dressing room harmony to create a winning team gets harder by the year – particularly with dressing rooms becoming more and more cosmopolitan.
“Players today cannot be compared to players of a few years ago,” he said. “What a player means in the world is different now. It is not easy to have 20-25 players none of whom are equal, and now we have more nationalities (to deal with) and that makes things more difficult.
“I was speaking to (former Al Wasl coach) Bruno Metsu and he is a man of the world and Europe but I have worked in four different countries and it’s so important to understand the cultural background of the country you are in.
“Chelsea is not the same as Porto and Inter is not the same as Madrid. The cultural background, the tactics and the players are fundamental but a coach cannot lose his identity, he is a leader, these factors of culture, players and coaching identity is everything and when a leader is in a locker room everything runs much smoother.”
Mourinho became the first manager to win a league title in Europe’s three major leagues – the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A – when he lifted the Spanish league title earlier this year.
It is an incredible feat, especially when you consider his unusual route into professional football, starting as a translator for former Barcelona coach Bobby Robson after an unsuccessful football career.
Mourinho’s lack of playing experience led him to observe the game like a student, with the famously defensive Italian league style having a particular influence on the way Mourinho manages, attributing his love for the Italian game as the motivation to join Inter Milan as coach in 2008 before leading them to 2010 Champions League glory.
“Italy was and used to be a championship that I really wanted to coach in,” he explained at the conference held at Dubai’s JW Marriott Marquis Hotel.
“I used to admire the Italian coaching style even though they were thought to be defensive. For me being tactical is not the same as being defensive and Italian coaches are very tactical.
“I remember Inter versus Genoa, it was my first experience in Italian football. My opponent was Gian Piero Gasperini. Inter started off adopting one tactic and they went 5-3-2. I wanted to win but it was a draw.
Twenty minutes after the beginning of the match I changed my concept and then again in the second half and Gasperini kept adapting to me. We followed each other five times, I wanted to win, he didn’t want to lose. It was like chess.”
"This was a challenge for me when I went to Italy to manage. I really wanted to coach there.
“For Spain, I wanted to win the league title in all three countries. “Real Madrid are a special team with a story and a background. It was an opportunity I wanted to grasp at all costs.”
While his success at club level still burns brightly, Mourinho also wants to test himself on the international scene. He said: “I look at coaches like (Russia manager) Fabio Capello who has had success at clubs and is now coaching national teams.
“I would really like to coach Portugal but at the right time and make the most of it.”