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José Mourinho thrives on tension but after two years it becomes a problem

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jose mourinho

José Mourinho is a manager who thrives on conflict, someone who is never happy unless there is something to be unhappy about. Or at least to pretend to be unhappy about. “Mourinho,” as Manchester City’s chief executive, Ferran Soriano, said when explaining why Barcelona opted for Pep Guardiola in 2008, “is a winner, but in order to win he guarantees a level of tension that becomes a problem.”

Tension is simply how he operates. If it isn’t there, he has to create it and he isn’t too bothered whom he hurts in doing so. One of the problems in discussing Mourinho is that his reputation for manipulation means you have to keep stopping and asking yourself: “Or is that what he wants me to think?” No one doubts the majority of what happens in his press conferences is carefully planned, designed to have an effect.
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The season is three games old (if you count the Community Shield) and already Mourinho has created three furores. First there was there was another episode of Handshakegate, which in its inexplicable longevity has become the Premier League’s version of Last of the Summer Wine.

Then there was the haranguing and suspension of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn, in which Mourinho’s motivations remain obscure. It surely went beyond his usual deflection tactics. Perhaps he felt a sacrifice was useful to shake everyone up, to make clear no one is safe from the wrath of José. Perhaps he was just lashing out at a convenient target.

Then there was the substitution of John Terry against Manchester City which, whatever tactical justifications there were for adding the pace of Kurt Zouma, had a symbolic quality – and one of which Mourinho, as keenly attuned to such things as anyone in modern football, must have been aware; after all, it’s not the first time he has done something similar.
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At Real Madrid, Mourinho picked a fight with the popular young winger Pedro León after a game at Levante in September 2010, seemingly just to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and prevent complacency setting in. But the more pertinent precedent perhaps comes from the beginning of Mourinho’s career, when he had been at Porto only a month.

In September 2002, Vítor Baía was the leader of Porto. He was 32, he had won seven league titles, he had played for Barcelona and he was the national team goalkeeper. Provoked by Mourinho, he became involved in a training-ground row. To his shock, Baía found himself suspended from all club activities for a month. “That was the turning point in his career,” Baía said. “He was very young and wanted to make a statement – and he did it.

“We had a great relationship, because we had been together at Porto with Bobby Robson, then for three years in Barcelona, with him always as assistant coach, but when he arrived at Porto he wanted to show everyone who was the boss: friends off the pitch, players on it. Performance was what counted, not relationships, so I was not in the best form and was chosen as an example: I was his statement. I was not pleased at the time. Today, after many conversations with him and the assistant coaches from the time, and some players, I know it was all a plan. Everyone knew how to react to me, how to speak to me, everyone was ready. After the month of suspension José welcomed me back with a big hug and I was straight back into the first team.”

These days Mourinho has no need to make clear who’s boss, no need to demonstrate his authority but substituting Terry was perhaps similar to banning Baía in that it reinforced the message that no one is too big, no one too iconic, nobody too close to Mourinho to be safe. (Perhaps Mourinho even justified his decision to Terry by telling him he was the only one big enough to make the statement he wanted to make).
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It is possible Mourinho just thought Terry was not playing very well – although he either could not or would not explain why he had replaced him rather than Gary Cahill – but after playing his Machiavellian games for so long, he can hardly complain if it is assumed there was an ulterior motive, whether that was to signal to Roman Abramovich that he really needs John Stones pour encourager les autres.

The risk is that the machinations become wearing. The level of tension of which Soriano wrote seems to become a particular problem in his third season at a club, as though players, directors and other staff can stomach his antics for two years but no more. Only twice before – in his first stint at Chelsea and then at Rea – has his reign lasted into a third year, and in both cases it ended in rancour.

Perhaps in May Mourinho will be brandishing the Champions League trophy at the San Siro stands that never really warmed to him and we will be praising his ruthlessness in taking big and controversial decisions in August – just as banning Baía began a two-year run of success that brought two league titles, a Uefa Cup and the Champions League at Porto – but at the moment this feels worryingly like the old pattern repeating.

As the irascible and brilliant Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann, a man to whom Mourinho has often been compared, once observed, “the third year is fatal”.

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Jose Mourinho appointed Tottenham head coach

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Jose Mourinho has been named Tottenham head coach until the end of the 2023 season.

The former Manchester United and Chelsea boss replaces Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked on Tuesday with the club 14th in the Premier League.

Having decided it was time to act, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy drew up a shortlist which included Mourinho, RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann, former Juventus boss Max Allegri and PSG’s Thomas Tuchel.

Negotiations between Spurs and Mourinho – who had been out of work since he was sacked by United in December – intensified over the last few days and concluded in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Mourinho was promised funds to improve the squad in January and in the summer transfer window, if he felt necessary.

“I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters,” said Mourinho. “The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

He will take training at Hotspur Way on Wednesday ahead of his first game on Saturday – against West Ham at the London Stadium.

Levy said he was “reluctant” to sack Pochettino, whose Spurs side lost to Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final, but explained the decision had to be made in the “club’s best interests”.

Mourinho won three Premier League titles with Chelsea, and is one of only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League twice with two clubs, FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

“In Jose, we have one of the most successful managers in football,” Levy said on Wednesday.

“He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honours at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Mourinho, who lives in London, inherits a Tottenham side that have won just five matches all season.

He turned down job offers in China, Spain and Portugal since leaving United.

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Pochettino sacked as Tottenham manager

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Tottenham Hotspur have announced that Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as their manager.

The Argentine spent five years in charge of the North London side.

Pochettino led Spurs to top-four finishes in four of his five seasons in charge, as well as their first Champions League final in the 2018/19 campaign.

However, they have won just five matches this season and chairman Daniel Levy said a change had to be made in the “club’s best interests”.

An official club statement read: “We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste.

“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the club’s best interests.

“Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us.

“I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here.

“We have a talented squad. We need to re-energise and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

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FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship Achieves Global Recognition, Gets Listed In the WAGR

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Golf Championship scheduled to Tee-Off on Friday, 15 November 2019 is now listed amongst the golf tournaments in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). The WAGR is offered by the R&A and the United States Golf Association as a global service to golf.  Through incorporation and assessment worldwide of both amateur and professional events, WAGR™ encourages the international development of the competitive game. 

Since 1894, FirstBank has continued to promote the growth and development of sports in Nigeria. Apart from the Lagos Amateur Golf Championship which the Bank has supported for 57 years, the Bank has sponsored the Georgian Cup of the Kaduna Polo Tournament for 100 years. Other sports supported by the Bank include; the Dala Hardcourt Tennis, Kano for 32 years and for over a combined 30 years, the Bank has sponsored and owned the popular Elephant Girls Basketball club – which has remained a dominant force in the Nigerian Women Basketball league for many years – and the Elephant boys football club. The highpoint of these is the 2019 100th unbroken years of sponsoring the Kaduna Polo Tournament, widely attributed as the longest running sports sponsorship in the world and a Guinness Book of Records potential. 

The 56-hole golf tournament, to be played over three days would be rounded off with a grand finale and awards ceremony on Sunday, 17 November 2019. Other activities to be held in the course of the tournament are the “Professional Coaching Clinic” to nurture the skills of young and upcoming talents and “Beat the Pro Skills competition”. The 2018 edition which had over 260 golfers in attendance was won by Sam Njoroge from Kenyan.

Speaking on the Bank’s sponsorship of the tournament, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said; “We are excited at the giant strides achieved with the FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship. The championship is now one of the international golf events where all amateur golfers worldwide can now participate and amass points to aid their WAGR rankings.”

“FirstBank has been in the business of supporting sports in Nigeria throughout its 125 years of existence. We have partnered with individuals and institutions to provide support, not only in the sports arena, but also in Education, the Arts and Small and Medium Enterprises”, he concluded.

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