Former disciple of Jose Mourinho reveals the dark side of the Manchester United boss
Throughout his career, Jose Mourinho has tended to induce extreme feelings from colleagues, players, fans and the media alike, and, to that end, people generally love or hate him.
For a man who has delivered copious amounts of silverware for clubs in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, Jose Mourinho still manages to leave the majority of his posts amid rancour and controversy.
In the early stages of a Mourinho tenure, his charisma and tactical nous immediately imbue clubs and it’s rarely too long before the trophy cabinet is added to.
It was very clear, particularly during his first stint at Chelsea and time with Inter Milan, that the former translator enjoyed incredible bonds with some of his players.
Indeed, the Stamford Bridge faithful have never wavered in their love for the Portuguese.
That said, the latter stages of his most recent jaunt with the London club, as well as his volcanic stay with Real Madrid, were marred with bouts of paranoia, invective and, eventually, implosion.
Now at Manchester United, Mourinho has more than once taken aim at officials, some of his players and their fixture list.
One man who knows Mourinho better than most, is his former protégé, Andre Villas-Boas, whose precocious coaching talents were first noticed by the late Bobby Robson, while he was in charge at Porto.
Indeed, it was Robson who also realised that Mourinho was far more than a translator, and subsequently brought him to Barcelona.
Villas-Boas worked under Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan. The former was a member of the latter’s analysis team and, at his behest, compiled incredibly detailed scouting reports of forthcoming opponents.
Initially, and well beyond that, Villa-Boas was utterly enamoured by Mourinho and learned an untold amount from him.
“In my formative moments working with Jose was the best time of my life – I was able to learn many things and working with him takes you to another level,” he said at the aspire4sport congress.
“You fall in love with him and he becomes your idol. I wanted to be like him, know everything that he knew and absorb all the information he was giving.”
However, during their time together in Italy, Villa-Boas became increasingly eager to strike out on his own. Soon thereafter, he took his first managerial job with Portuguese side Académica, who were bottom of the Primeira Liga when he was hired in October 2009.
He would guide them to an 11th place finish and to the semi-final of the League Cup, and by the beginning of the next season he was in charge at Porto.
In the space of a year, Villa-Boas led Porto to the Portuguese Super Cup, the league (undefeated), the Cup and the Europa League.
It was around then, he claims, that his relationship with Mourinho took an unwelcome turn, but the genesis of their falling out was a result of Villa-Boas’ desire to be a manager in his own right.
“Then you fall on the wrong side of Jose and that's when things change and you realise that you've been blinded by someone.
“He has this fascinating capability of getting the best out of you, which has good or bad consequences for people.
“My consequences were that as a result of the argument or disagreement we had, I started my coaching career.”
After his brief posting at Porto, Villas-Boas returned to Chelsea as manager, but lasted less than in a season in the job.
He then moved to Spurs, where he fared far better, and also came up against his old mentor, but now admits that he was not adequately prepared to take control at Stamford Bridge.
There had been widespread reports of acrimony in the dressing room while he was there and, Villa-Boas believes he was too intransigent in his approach.
“The Chelsea experience was too much too soon. I wasn't flexible as a manager at that time. I was communicative, but I wasn't flexible in my approach. At Tottenham I learnt to be different.”
“In professional football you have to live the day-to-day. The objective is the group performance, but every single individual requires a different response from a manager. You can't be the same person to each player.
“At Chelsea the group was more important, I stuck to my methods too much.”
Currently not working, but still only 38, Villas-Boas was previously in charge of Russian outfit Zenith Saint Petersburg.