Jose Mourinho led the way in creating a demand for Portuguese coaches outside of their homeland. Soccer 360’s Dan Roberts looks at a few who have followed in his footsteps.
Back in the 1980s, Portugal were one of the also-rans when it came to international competition. But now their players perform in nearly every top team in Europe – and they can boast one of the very best ever to play the game.
But Portugal’s head coaches are now beginning to show that there is a lot of talent on the training ground too. Jose Mourinho is probably the most well-known manager from his country – and he is definitely the most successful. But there are others showing off their skills.
After proving himself at Porto, Andre Villas-Boas came to the attention of the football world outside Portugal when he took up the reins at Chelsea and then Tottenham Hotspur, having been a Mourinho protégé. But it was in Russia where he enjoyed success with Zenit St Petersburg. He has coached in China and most recently at Marseille; still only in his early 40s, AVB will be around for a while yet.
Another Portuguese coach with an undistinguished playing career, Fonseca made his name in the lower reaches of his country’s league set up before impressing enough at Pacos de Ferreira to earn himself a job at Porto. Things didn’t go quite as planned and he then coached at a number of other top flight clubs before a hugely successful spell in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk. A series of titles attracted Serie A giant Roma, where he has battled for a Champions League place.
Nuno Espirito Santo
A former goalkeeper who played in Spain and Russia as well as Portugal, Nuno Espirito Santo started off his coaching career at Rio Ave before moving on to Valencia. An unsuccessful season at Porto followed before he started the journey to bring Wolves back to the Premier League. A close friendship with agent Jorge Mendes has seen many of Portugal’s young talents coming through the club as they consolidate their position in the English topflight.
Mourinho’s roll of honour
It looks as though the magic might be running out for Jose Mourinho but there is no doubt that he has been one of the most successful head coaches in European club history. That level of success might be out of reach at Tottenham, but it’s worth looking back at just how successful Mourinho has been in the past.
After winning the domestic cup and the league title on two occasions, Mourinho also put together one of the best Porto teams in the club’s history and won not only the UEFA Cup in 2003 but also the Champions League a year later.
His success in Portugal earned him a big move to England, where he took over at Chelsea. With back-to-back Premier League titles and a personality that enamoured the British media, Mourinho became one of the biggest names in the sport. He also added a few domestic cup titles to his resume. But failure on the European stage and a falling out with owner Roman Abramovich saw him sacked in 2007.
By the time the 2008-09 season came around Jose was in Serie A with Inter. He immediately won the Scudetto but failed again in the Champions League. That was remedied a year later when he followed another Serie A triumph by lifting the biggest cup of them all, beating Bayern Munich in the final. Add in a Coppa Italia and it was an historic treble-winning season for the Nerazzurri.
The ‘Special One’ could seemingly do no wrong and left Italy to take over at Santiago Bernabeu. But the expensively assembled Real Madrid squad he inherited had been underperforming in recent years. Mourinho was unable to turn the tide around completely, winning just one league title and a couple of domestic cups in four years. European glory evaded him, and he was allowed to leave in 2013 after a trophy-less season.
After a brief return to Chelsea – where he won the league and cup double in 2015 –Mourinho attempted to return Manchester United to its former glories. There was League Cup success and a Europa League title won in his time at Old Trafford. But his management style and personality didn’t go down well at the club – and he was sacked halfway through his third season in charge.
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