Jose Mourinho’s take on Coaching

In ‘The Playbook – A Coach’s Rules for Life’, Jose Mourinho straightaway flags down the warm-up questions. Asked about his formative influences, he says he doesn’t want to go there ( talk about it). Don’t want to talk about other people, he adds.

You think the guy is so egotistical but soon he shows that if it were so, it has not stopped him from realising and accepting perhaps the biggest truth about himself in relation to the game he is passionate about – He wasn’t good enough as a football player!

What is best for the team, do that!

For Jose, the team is one living, breathing creature. Team above self. The best decision is in the interest of the team. In Jose’s team, he once found two players telling each other – You are a better captain than me. You should captain the team. Mourinho heard this and knew this team is right on track.

Rev yourself up for the biggest challenge 

As a coach for FC Porto, Mourinho and his team are watching the live telecast for the Champions league draw. Porto are the minnows. Most teams would pray for an easier opponent. Not Mourinho. He knows he has to prepare his team to take on the best. All through the telecast, he keeps rooting for Porto to draw Manchester United, then the best team. He works up the the entire team into a frenzy about this. And sure enough, when his wish is granted, the team is fired up and ready to take on the best club in the world. Porto go on to beat Manchester United and win the away tie. They progress and go on to win the UEFA Champions league!

Being there for the team  

Once, Mourinho was suspended from the dressing room and the field on account of a previous offence.  But, the match was critical and Jose felt he had to be with the team. So, he sneaked his way into the dressing room much before the game was to begin. Tournament officials knew what he was capable of and decided to inspect the dressing room. The laundry basket became Jose’s hiding place! Broke the rules and I am not proud of it, he says. And in the same breath, he says he is proud of what he did as a leader.

Refuse to let Ego decide your play 

A strategic move as Real Madrid’s coach says a lot more about Mourinho as coach. He has Christiano Ronaldo, one of the games biggest stars. In a final, they are pitted against Barcelona, who else! And in his usual playing position, Ronaldo is squaring off against a super-attacking Barcelona player. Most coaches having the world’s best players would decide to go head-to-head and win. Not Mourinho. The ego and the larger-than-life posturing does not come in the way of making spot-on decisions.

Mourinho does not want Ronaldo to expend energy tackling his opposition number and prove his mettle that way. He recognises that as the coach, he has to put Ronaldo in the best position possible for scoring goals. And so, he takes off Ronaldo from his regular playing position and plays him in a different configuration. One would think that a coach who regards himself as the special one, and one who has the game’s superstar at his service, would not do something like that. But Mourinho does. This one move speaks more about Mourinho than all of the blustery talk at press-conferences and interviews.

Ronaldo scores the winning goal!

What to teach the big players

For Mourinho, if you cannot coach the big players, you cannot coach any player. He says, “You don’t teach the big players to play the game. You teach them how to play in that team.” The team always comes first and the biggest player is simply an instrument for the best strategy to win the game.

And like any passionate exponent of his field, Jose Mourinho does not regard football as just a game. Football is a metaphor for Life itself. The team is family. You put your heart and soul on the field for ninety minutes. And time is always running out!

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