Jose Mourinho – a two time Champions League conqueror, winner of eight domestic league titles… Manchester United’s guarantee of success?
Mourinho’s accolade-littered career certainly qualifies the Portuguese coach to dine alongside the managerial elite, a table at which Alex Ferguson surely sits proudly at the head of the table.
But just as Sir Alex Ferguson has his fair share of skeletons in his closet – lifelessly donning their retro Taibi and Djemba-Djemba shirts in the darkness – Mourinho himself is gradually accumulating a cemetery of notable transfer tragedies.
As the Old Trafford board prepare to whisper Mourinho the pin-code for United’s bank account, they will be hoping that he has learnt from the long line of footballing failures and flops that have dented his reputation over the years.
Over the course of Mourinho’s two spells in west London, the Portuguese boss brokered a considerable number of career-ending transfers. Reasonably reputable names in the European game unwittingly signed their career death warrants guided by the hand of Mourinho: Mateja Kezman, Jiri Jarosik and Juan Cuadrado all suffered the same fate at Chelsea, not inconsiderable sums either.
Proven talents such as Maniche, Marco van Ginkel and Loic Remy also set their careers back at Stamford Bridge, whilst the outstanding anomaly, the £2.7 million purchase of Papy Djilobodji from Nantes in 2015 remains one of the most bizarre moves of Mourinho’s career.
Mourinho’s habit for terrible transfers was by no means limited to the Premier League, failing to make the best of the talent he bought at Real Madrid too. Pedro Leon and Fabio Coentrao were notable flops during Mourinho’s reign. Even during the two successful seasons in Italy with Inter Milan that followed, the incoming Manchester United boss couldn’t help himself from dragging down one or two stars in the process.
During the process of building a formidable treble-winning side in his second campaign, Mourinho’s €13m move for Roma’s impressive Brazilian Amantino Mancini quickly transitioned into a disaster.
But without question, the €24.6m transfer of Portuguese icon Ricardo Quaresma remains the most infamous example of a Mourinho transfer ending a players’ career.
Quaresma was never a board approved transfer, Mourinho had to insist on them paying out for the Porto winger:
“I respect their opinion on Quaresma, but mine is different,
“His pace, his quality, his dribbling could be very useful and I have been saying this for months.”
It didn’t take long for Quaresma to demonstrate what a failure the transfer was destined to be. He was quickly cast aside by Mourinho, drawing his managerial scythe and condemning the former-Porto star to the graveyard.
“My biggest regret was joining Inter,
“My happiness and self-confidence were taken away from me. At one point I wasn’t even called up any more.
“I felt on the margins of the squad and woke up crying when I had to attend training sessions.”
Mourinho’s thirst for immediate success has inadvertently developed his tendency to give up on potential superstars too, particularly prevalent during his most recent spell at Chelsea.
In addition to the obvious errors of judgement shown in the cases of Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata is another who found his right of passage into the Chelsea first team blocked by Mourinho. Up until Mourinho’s arrival, the Spaniard had been sensational for the Blues, earning back-to-back Player of the Year awards.
Mata was quickly omitted from the squad entirely on the grounds that he was not doing enough work off the ball. Rightfully frustrated, Mata escaped to Manchester United, and the World Cup winner must now wonder what the future holds with his former foe arriving for round two at Old Trafford.
There can be little doubting Mourinho’s pedigree as a manager, and there is every chance he emulate his record for immediate success with Manchester United. But as the grim reaper of the footballing transfer market, Old Trafford had better be prepared to host a number of career funerals in the process.