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´Special One´ Mourinho back to the fore

SoccerNews in Serie A 2 Jun 2008

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He has conquered Portugal, England and Europe and now the self-proclaimed 'Special One' has arrived in Italy ready to weave once again his magic wand.

Jose Mourinho has won practically all there is to win in club football with FC Porto and Chelsea and now Inter Milan will benefit from his genial touch.

However this challenge is different for the Portuguese coach. When he arrived at Porto, they had not won their national title in three seasons and yet in two incredible years he guided them to two Portuguese titles, one Portuguese Cup, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup.

Chelsea had been knocking on the door at the top of the English Premier league for many years when Mourinho arrived there in 2004, but had yet to finish ahead of Manchester United and Arsenal in the same season.

But Mourinho won the Premier League crown in his first two seasons and before leaving the club after just over three years, he had added the FA Cup and two League Cups to his resume.

At Inter, though, he is taking over the best team in Italy on the back of three successive titles – it's a different challenge altogether.

Now, the only way is down for Inter.

The son of a Portugal goalkeeper, Mourinho never played professionally and had his first big break as Sir Bobby Robson's translator when the veteran English coach arrived at Sporting Lisbon.

He soon became the former England boss's assistant and Robson, as shrewd a judge of ability off the field as he was on it, said: “What struck me about Mourinho was he was a student of football. I had a feeling that one day he would go a long way in the game. He had great confidence in his own ability.”

After following Robson to Barcelona he stayed at the Nou Camp to be deputy to Louis van Gaal before joining Portuguese giants Benfica in 2000 only for his reign there to last nine games before a boardroom row saw him ousted.

However, he was soon in charge again at perennial Portuguese strugglers Uniao de Leiria whom he promptly guided to fourth place and European football.

Porto seized the chance to have Mourinho at the helm and were rewarded with the UEFA Cup and Champions League in successive seasons.

It was little wonder that Roman Abramovich, Chelsea's millionaire Russian owner, who himself had defied the odds on the way to acquiring a vast fortune, should bring in Mourinho to replace the likeable but much-maligned Claudio Ranieri.

Mourinho managed to get under the skin of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson by suggesting the Scot improperly influenced referees.

He sparked further controversy in the League Cup final itself when he appeared to signal Liverpool fans to be quiet.

But that was nothing compared to his suggestions that referee Anders Frisk had been improperly influenced by a half-time visit from Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard during a Champions League tie.

Frisk, who said he received death threats following Mourinho's comments, announced his retirement afterwards and the Chelsea manager was branded an “enemy of football” by UEFA's head of refereeing.

Mourinho personifies the old adage that the next best thing to fame is infamy.

There were those willing to attribute Chelsea's success to Abramovich's wealth but Mourinho, now 45, had an answer that, unsurprisingly, demolished one of the sport's truisms.

“The finance is not the most important factor. It's a big help but it's more about creating a squad, creating a team.

“It's the biggest lie in football to say that managers need time to have success, because it's a lie we make to protect ourselves. We don't need a lot of time. If from the first day you're working with the right principles you don't need time.”

It remains to be seen whether he still has that opinion after one season at the San Siro where he will be expected to both retain the Serie A crown and bring Inter their first Champions League title since the 1960s.

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It is going to be great for the young players especially….he should be able to create another dynasty in the 3 years…looking forward to it…

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