Jose Mourinho handed another chance to prove he’s not yesterday’s man

A club with a storied history which has gone too long without silverware.

A team which, having challenged for the league title a few seasons back, finds itself in a deep slump on the pitch.

Owners who have been tempted by the opportunity to hire a man who, despite his diminished aura of invincibility, is still one of the most famous coaches in world football.

There are many parallels between the circumstances in which Jose Mourinho arrived at Tottenham and his new job at AS Roma.

The big question is whether or not things will end any differently.

Roma have appointed Jose Mourinho on a three-year contract

Though he made his reputation at Porto and Chelsea, Mourinho reached the pinnacle of his career in Italian football.

His treble-winning Inter Milan side are one of the most instantly memorable teams of the 21st century, impassable in defence, all-action in midfield and lethal up front thanks to Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito.

It’s easy to see why Mourinho has been drawn back to Serie A, where his greatest successes are still at the forefront of the collective memory.

His treble-winning campaign was over a decade ago, however, and anyone who has followed his last few years in the Premier League will be able to see that his motivational powers have waned in the time since.

Jose Mourinho enjoyed great success in Italy with Inter Milan
Jose Mourinho enjoyed great success in Italy with Inter Milan

After his boom-and-bust spells at Real Madrid, Chelsea (again) and Manchester United, there was much talk of three-season cycles where success was followed by emotional burnout, internal discord and ultimately dismissal.

The boom time never arrived at Spurs, despite the unbeaten run earlier this season which briefly saw them go top of the table.

Any hopes of a title challenge were over by January and, with the failed European Super League breakaway overshadowing his sacking, there was barely any fanfare to Mourinho’s departure.

The facts speak for themselves: it was his first trophyless spell at a club since his time at Uniao de Leiria in Portugal, he was on course for two consecutive seasons without Champions League football and, this term, he lost more games in all competitions than he had in any other season in his managerial career.

Ex-Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho with Harry Kane
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho with Harry Kane

Just as he did at Spurs, Mourinho will inherit a Roma side in a difficult position. Currently seventh in Serie A, they are miles away from challenging Inter Milan and Juventus at the top of the table next season.

They would do well to overhaul Stefano Pioli’s resurgent AC Milan or Gian Piero Gasperini’s irrepressible Atalanta next term, let alone aim for the Scudetto. Runners-up to Juve as recently as 2017, they have struggled to strike the right balance under Paulo Fonseca and now face the prospect of dropping into the Europa Conference League.

Mourinho may back himself to adapt to the tactical demands of Serie A, but his biggest challenge will be avoiding the same toxic fall-outs which have plagued his last few jobs in management.

He is set for a reunion with several familiar faces on his first day at Roma’s Trigoria training ground, but they may have mixed feelings about his arrival.

Jose Mourinho has been named as AS Roma's next manager
Jose Mourinho has been named as AS Roma’s next manager

Mourinho managed Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling at Manchester United, allowing the former to leave for Arsenal in the swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez make his ill-fated move to Old Trafford.

Mkhitaryan struggled for form under Mourinho and has conceded that working with him was “difficult”, though he has also said he has no regrets.

As for Smalling, Mourinho voiced frustrations with his injury issues on several occasions and, in 2016, questioned whether he was brave enough to play through the pain. Despite that, Smalling would go on to say that they had “a very good relationship.”

Jose Mourinho and Chris Smalling celebrate winning the UEFA Europa League Final
Jose Mourinho and Chris Smalling celebrate winning the UEFA Europa League Final

Mourinho also briefly managed Pedro at Chelsea, signing him from Barcelona in 2015. Asked what had gone wrong after Mourinho’s acrimonious exit, he said : “It was about everything, everything just wasn’t right… we were very low in the league, the spirits were very low, the trust was very low, everything was going wrong.”

Davide Santon probably has the happiest memories of Mourinho, having made his breakthrough under him at Inter.

Even if Mourinho can wipe the slate clean with the players he’s worked with already, he’s about to take on a squad full of youngsters who will require careful management.

In Nicolo Zaniolo, Marash Kumbulla, Roger Ibanez, Gonzalo Villar, Amadou Diawara and Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma have a core group of youthful players who are still developing.

Given what happened with Dele Alli at Spurs, they may be wondering who will be first to see Mourinho’s ruthless side. As his confrontational leadership has become ever more aggressive and he has resorted to progressively harsher public criticism of his players, he has made a habit of alienating people.

While much has been made of his fearful tactics at Spurs, Mourinho’s increasingly antagonistic approach to man management speaks to a man who no longer truly believes in the persuasive power of his own charisma.

His spell at Roma may be his last chance to prove that, even after the setbacks and failures of the last few years, he is still a natural-born winner.

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