Jose Mourinho’s friends and foes: a who’s who guide
There are few more divisive figures in football than Jose Mourinho. To his supporters the Portuguese is one of the greatest coaches of all time, a serial winner who has succeeded in four different countries. His detractors, though, will argue that the Manchester United manager’s powers are on the wane and that he’s only able to produce results in the short-term.
“He always needs an enemy to be able to attack or defend his squad,” ex-Inter striker Diego Milito once said of his former boss. But who are Mourinho’s biggest foes, and who does he get on well with?
Ed Woodward: Foe
Worryingly for United fans, Mourinho and Woodward appear to be at loggerheads right now. Despite handing him a contract extension in January, the Red Devils' executive vice-chairman didn't back his manager's judgement in the summer transfer market, with seemingly well-briefed media reports suggesting that Woodward didn't want to spend large sums on the players Mourinho wanted because of their age and lack of resale value.
On the face of it, the two men should be pulling in the same direction and working towards the same goals. It was telling, though, that Mourinho argued he should be referred to as a ‘head coach’ rather than ‘manager’ earlier this month, and it’s difficult to see how the pair’s differences of opinion can be resolved.
One of the players Mourinho wanted to sign this summer was Willian, who had been a key part of his Chelsea team between 2013 and 2015. The Brazilian made 36 appearances as the Blues scooped the Premier League title under Mourinho in 2014/15, and he was one of the few players who maintained his good form when the champions imploded the following campaign.
“[He] is the best manager I’ve ever worked with,” Willian told ESPN in July. “We have a good relationship, we are friends. Sometimes we talk, we text, we send messages to each other via WhatsApp. He is a great manager, I really enjoyed working with him. I hope I can work with him again someday.”
Arsene Wenger: Foe
Arguably the most fierce managerial feud in Premier League history, Wenger and Mourinho have never had much time for each other. Fundamentally, the two men see football very differently: while the former preaches the importance of style and performance, the latter emphasises results and frequently pours scorn on so-called “poets” and “idealists”.
The rivalry routinely got personal too: Mourinho called the then-Arsenal boss a “voyeur” in 2005 and a “specialist in failure” nine years later. The Portuguese said he hopes he can one day be friends with his great foe following Wenger’s exit from the Emirates in May, but it’s hard to see that ever happening.
Marco Materazzi: Friend
When Mourinho left Inter for Real Madrid after guiding the Nerazzurri to an unprecedented treble in 2010, no one was more upset than Materazzi. A tough-tackling, rugged defender who'd earned a reputation as a hardman throughout his career was spotted on camera bidding his manager a tearful farewell.
“I can tell you that Mourinho and [Marcello] Lippi are the best [coaches in the world], in my opinion,” Materazzi said in 2016. “Not just because of their self-explanatory results, but because I experienced them close up. [Mourinho has] drive, cleverness, knowledge, experience and empathy.”
Mino Raiola: Foe
Raiola isn’t the kind of agent who quietly goes about his business in the background. The outspoken Italian is never shy to put forward his opinion on football matters, as he demonstrated on Tuesday by criticising Manchester United legend Paul Scholes.
Mourinho hasn’t taken kindly to Raiola’s attempts to find a new club for Paul Pogba, one of his most high-profile clients. The agent’s influence on one of United’s star players is a legitimate concern for the Portuguese, particularly after Pogba’s cryptic comment that “there are things I can say and there are things I cannot say... otherwise I will get fined” following the 2-1 win against Leicester.