"What do you mean you've hurt 'your' knee, it's Liverpool's knee" - Bill Shankly.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mourinho and his tactics

by nicodemus

I've have been sick and tired of hearig all this JM bashing and saying" hes a cocky twat" " he'll never do well in the EPL because its better then Portugal" etc. ITs taken me 4 days..but i have complied all this info i have gathered from sources around the net, my own knowledge of him and what i think after seeing him wiht porto for 3 seasons. I'm so ****en tired and I have work tommorow at 6 30 am. its 12 45 am now. Damn making swimmming pools, then lifeguarding :banghead 

I'll try to explain which concepts and tactics are behind Mourinho's success. 

First of all, let's start with the man. As some of you know, he was born surrounded by football, his father was a goalkeeper in Setubal, and later a average portuguese league coach. In a early age, he walked around with his father teams, and helped his father in small tasks in coaching, like sending tactical messages to the players, and, even, scouting the opponent's teams. He was 15, and from those days he learned the secrets of the locker rooms, and how to adress and understand the players. 
He was a bellow average player in the youth teams, but early, choosed to follow his father footsteps and surpass him. Therefore he graduated in a Sports University (ISEF), in football, which gave him the theoretic knowledge on Training Methods which he improved later, being nowdays one of the best in the world in that field, integrating always the ball in the tactical and physical exercices, which boosts player motivation to train and overall abilities. 

He is considered by one of his most famous college teatchers to be an absolute genious as a coach, unparalleled in the world. 
After his degree he was, as you know, assistant coach to Bobby Robson in Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona, and to Van Gaal, also in Barcelona. 
Before he joined Benfica as the first coach, he spent two years writing everything he knowned about football, coaching, and training in a book, which he calls 'The Bible', and which is kept secret (for all i know it was only given to Porto's Chairman, Pinto da Costa, aka The Pope, loll). 
This secrecy over his methods is one of the reason's why Mourinho always closes the trainings to the public. Porton fans could only attend to the trainings, on the days following a defeat (that was the agreement made by JM with the fans), and fortunately we hardly did. 

One small defect on Mourinho is to be pointed: He's Ego. He is a knowned Narcisist (even diagnosed by a knowkned Psychoanalyst in Portugal) and, eventualy, the teams he coachs, will after 2 or 3 years worn out of him, because of the way he takes success as his own accomplishment, therefore stripping the players of the spotlights. This tends to at a short term motivate the team, seeing themselves in the coach's confidence, but at the long term, they tend to feel that their personal conquests as teamplayers is overshadowed by the focus on the coach. That also was starting to happen in Porto, just before he left, with a huge respect from the players for JM's abilities as a coach, but with a growing distance from the man. Two small episodes from Mourinho's history in Porto: - When he won the UEFA Cup, he ran around the pitch alone, jumping and screaming, while the players celebrated in the oposite side. 
- This year after winning the Champions League he did not celebrate with the players, he prefered to go and join his family on the bench, and did not fly home with the players to the apotheothic celebration with the fans, as they did. 

To finish the 'Man issue', we can say that he's one of those guys that you love or hate, because he is good, he knows it, shows it and is arrogant if needed. You can hope for a close relation with the team fans, and a dubious relation with the press, the rival managers, and the other teams fans. My guess, is that you Blues fans will adore him, and everyone else will hate him. Just has it happend here in Portugal. 

The skills: 

Mourinho is world class in: 

- Motivating players - wether it is on the locker rooms, or by statements to the press that work, indirectly, has a message for the team. He also has very strong starts in the game (forget the championsleague final) and at the start of the second halfs. He's one of the best giving the team a feeling of reunion, of working together for the same objective, sometime's choosing an exterior enemy to gather the troops against, and it could be the press, a rival club or coach. His players tend to be confident (almost arrogant) and not to shake in important matches, and his team, always (i mean always) adresses a game to win wether they have to atack all game or counter atack. He expects the players to be as confident as he is, and takes's the best, psychologically, of them. If they lack the nerve constantly, they'll be dropped out. 

- Tactically - In Porto every player knowned always what it was expected from him in the pitch. How exactly to atack, and who and how to defend. He's a controll freak as he is a workaholic, and even on pre-season friendly matches, every player got a full written report of the other teams tactics and individual abilities. This was so extense, that each player would know the direct oposite player most used driblle, strong points, weak points, etc, etc. Further we can say that each position in the field will have directives of how to play, and that he seeks that in no moment of the game one of his player doesn't know what he should do. This means that every aspect is studied and passed on to players, from indirect kicks, throws, to the exact number of atackers the team must have (3) when the other team has a corner, to start an imediat counter attack, as in normal play, tending the team to work clockwise, with or without the ball. 
One example of how minutia he gets, is when he substitute's a player, changing the team's gameplay, he sents the player in with written message's for the key player at midfield telling him how to position. In the portuguese Superliga the tv cameras used to spent there time trying to zoom on the piece of paper with the message. 

- Training - For what he brag's about, he is the nº 1 in the world, but also by the number of football students, that choose is training methods has a case study for post-graduations. As said before, training is integrated, no more running around the pitch for hours, or physical exercises without the ball. everything is methodically done together. 

- The way he reads the game - Mourinho was invited to do the match coments in the Spain-Portugal game at Euro 2004, and all the country was astonished by his knowledge of the game, tactical nuances, etc, etc. He was so outstanding that days after the match people and the press were still talking about his performance and made us all feel that we didn't understand a thing about real football. The good thing is that the usual tv experts all got blushed with there own ignorance. 

Mourinho is good in: 

- Making the right subs - Although he reads the game well, at a number of times i was not that much convinced that he made the right subs. And that means something! it means he doesn't go for the popular subs, but for those he thinks will do the team well. Several and several times Porto was able to turn around a negative score, and many times with goals scored by the subs chosen by JM. 

Mourinho is not that good in: 

- Playing that all atacking football the fans love to see - and this means that you wil not have open games with a lot of goals, neither will you have the pitch full of creative players, only the necessary ones. Forget about 4-5 wins or defeats. As soon as Mourinho as 'his own team', the results will tend to be 1-0 or 2-0, for Chelsea. 

The tactics: This is the juicy part!! 

Where to start? hummmmmm...... by the defense, as JM always does! 
Expect a zonal defence, using one strong mark CB and the other CB being free and pacey (Terry and Gallas?). Most of the times the defense will use off line tactics to stop teams with speedy forwards. 
One thing JM is strong about is the heigth of the wingbacks: they have to be tall and able to help in central defense when needed (that's why Ibarra was shipped to Monaco on loan). This means that when oposite team is atacking down one flank, the defender of the oposite flank goes imediatly to the center to help defending. They also help on atack with quick combinations with the winger (Porto was great in that) but expect more runs with the ball when the team is playing in diamond formation, without wingers. Defensive compensations are made by the CD or by the DM if he is playing in 4-3-3 (actualy it is a 4-2-3-1) or by the two midfielders in the edge when he plays a diamond formation. 

Midfield - I think you'll see various systems with the same dynamic of play. The 4-3-3 for the easier games and the home games, consisting of two wingers and a striker in atack, and a triangle in the midfield (this was the most famous tactic used by him in portugal for the superliga, not the diamond, that he only used in derby's and in the championsleague, because he had is wingers not available for the competition). The triangle consists of one DM who will have a very important role in the positioning of the team, he might help the central defenders if needed (if he is tall) or positioning the team to atack by defending high on the field. It is not important for JM that he has briliant technic, it is far more important that he is tactically inteligent in his actions. The other two players would be a midfielder who can both atack and defend well, with a good long range shoot and pass (like maniche) and the other would be the 10, to whom is given freedom, but also expected to help the team defend if needed. 
In the Diamond formation (which is a 4-4-2 system without wingers) used only in matches against similar or superior teams, he will use two players who can both defend and atack, by the edge of the diamond, which may also explore the wings for atack. The low tip of the diamond is a DM and the atacking tip a nº 10 (9,5 like Platini), playing closer to the atackers and using the space in there back to atack in the middle or leaning to the wings in some of the atacking moves of the team. 

Atack - Expect your forwards to be... defenders! :woot Calm down! He is not Otto Rehagel and you'll not be fans of the english greek team. What i mean is that the most important aspect of the way JM plays with his teams is closing down on the opponent. He is obcessed by it, specialy on doing it on the other team half pitch, right in there defense, destroying the possibility of building any game, or even long balls to the atack, because our forwards will close down on each player who has the ball, increasing the mistakes made, and the passes missed. Expect many goals to be scored by some atacker stealing the ball to a defender. His closing down sistem is not defensive, by the oposite, it's atacking, because he do it high in the other team field (we call it in portugal 'high pressure' which would mean something like 'high closing down'). Atackers, midfielders, everyone but the CD will close down, and that's why many great teams that played against Porto, simply just didn't play a thing. The team will work as a block, all the sections close together, limiting the other teams space to play. You will see in many games, you're central defenders in the half pitch line. 
The atacking system will consist of 2 wingers and a striker (if in 4-3-3) or a striker and a pacey forward with some positional freedom (if in Diamond). All of them are expected to help the team defending (by the Closing Down), but not to move backwards too much because JM likes to leave a threat in the atack when he is defending in his side of the pitch. 

Overal Tactic- 
With the ball - take the game into the other team half side, short pass, and envolvement movements in which all the players participate. 
Without the ball - close down fast on the oponent, to take him the ball or make him miss his pass. Everyone helps defending, and the sectors work close to each other. 

To keep in mind: JM for many ocasions argued that he preferes players who are not stars, or premadonas, but that are young (24-26) and never won a thing, so that he can motivate them to winning and not just settle for their past trophies. JM said once in Portugal that he could never be a coach in a team like R. Madrid because of the way players acted like stars, missing on training, or going out at night. Therefore don't expect someone like Ronaldo ever to come to Chelsea if JM is not sure that he is going to die on the field if needed. -This is why he is probably getting rid of Crespo among others at Chelsea.

I hope this is of some use for you Chelsea fans. I will also start to suport the team, and you're complex but exciting coach. 

If any have you have any doubts about what was writin before, just post them. I'll try to help if possible


  1. wow........great insight..thanks from Pep Guardiola

  2. Gud article.. but JM is now managing Real Madrid and Ronaldo is in his team.


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Defying belief however, is a market Benitez has cornered quite well. The moment you think Benitez is clueless, he defies it by pulling off a result of majesty, like the one achieved in Madrid. The moment he is hailed a genius, he masterminds toothless surrender to a team going nowhere. In the ongoing Anfield power struggle, just when he was cornered by the firing squad, the Spaniard's demise at Liverpool looking practically assured with the ominous suspension of betting by the bookmakers, he squeezes out through a narrow trapdoor and eliminates Rick Parry. Rafa Benitez is Keyzer Soze.
- Just Football blog: The Curious Beast that is Football 28 Feb 2009