Controversial? Yes. Divisive? Yes. But there is no denying that Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest managers in the modern era. Having burst onto the scenes with his all-conquering Porto side, Jose went on to achieve great things with Chelsea soon after, following which he led Inter Milan to great glory.
A mildly successful spell at Real Madrid followed, after which he returned to Chelsea for a second stint and won titles and trophies again. Next stop for the Portuguese tactician was Manchester United where he enjoyed a trophy-laden first season, but things fell apart in his third year at the club. Mourinho is currently in charge at Tottenham Hotspur, after having replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November.
During his managerial career, Mourinho has won 25 titles and trophies, that include two UEFA Champions League trophies – one with Porto and Inter Milan each, while he also won the UEFA Cup with Porto as well as the Europa League with Manchester United.
In such a decorated career, the 57-year-old has coached some of the finest footballers along the way. But who among those would make the cut into the best XI of players coached by Mourinho?
GK: Petr Cech (Chelsea)
Iker Casillas, Julio Cesar, Vitor Baia, Mourinho has worked with some exceptional goalkeepers during his managerial career. But, the obvious choice for this best XI has to be Petr Cech. The Czech Republic stopper was signed by Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004 and went on to work with him for six seasons across both his stints at the club, making 195 appearances. Cech was a member of the spine around which Mourinho’s Premier League conquering team was built on in the early 2000’s.
RB: Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan)
Paulo Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic were other contenders for this spot. But Javier Zanetti gets the nod owing to the role he played in Mourinho’s successful two-year stint at Inter.
The Argentine was Jose’s trusted lieutenant on the pitch and led the side admirably as the Nerazzurri went on to scale great heights under Mou. Zanetti made 106 appearances in two seasons under the Portuguese, missing only two matches during his entire tenure.
CB: Ricardo Carvalho (Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid)
One of Jose Mourinho’s most important players, Ricardo Carvalho was an ever-present in his successful Porto side, then followed him to Chelsea where once again the pair won the lot.
The Portuguese centre-back would then join hands with Mourinho again at Real Madrid in 2010, although he was nearing his twilight at the time. Carvalho is Mourinho’s most frequently used players, having made 270 appearances under the manager, spanning across three clubs.
CB: John Terry (Chelsea)
Honourable mentions for the likes of Sergio Ramos, Pepe, William Gallas, but there is no way John Terry misses out from a Jose Mourinho best XI. It was under his leadership that Mourinho’s Chelsea enjoyed the rousing success that they did in the 2000’s.
The former England centre-back went on to play a key role in Jose’s second stint at the club as well, adding another Premier League winners’ medal to his cabinet. After Carvalho, Terry is the most frequently-used player by Jose, making 266 appearances under the Portuguese, for most of which he was the captain of the team.
LB: Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
The Englishman was a player Mourinho broke rules to sign at Chelsea. The Portuguese met with the left-back to discuss terms over a contract, while he was still at Arsenal, which resulted in him getting hit with a hefty fine. But all of it seemed worth it as Cole went on to play a key role in Chelsea’s 2006-07 PL triumph.
Mourinho would leave soon after though, but the pair worked together for a season in Jose’s second coming at the club in 2013-14. In total the Englishman featured just 73 times for Jose, but made a huge difference.
DM: Claude Makelele (Chelsea)
The midfielder had arrived at Chelsea a year before Mourinho did, but it was the Portuguese who brought the best out of the French midfield destroyer. Makelele was a key figure in the team that Mourinho built at Chelsea, performing the thankless task of breaking up play in the middle of the park with utmost consistency. Makelele featured 138 times during Jose’s first stint at Chelsea and scored a couple of goals.
RW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Mourinho joined hands with Ronaldo a year after the latter had moved from Manchester United. Under the tutelage of his compatriot, Cristiano played some of his finest football at the Bernabeu, plundering a whopping 168 goals in just 164 appearances, averaging over a goal per game. He also set up 49 more for his teammates. Unfortunately, the pair did not win a lot of trophies at Madrid though, bagging one La Liga title and a Copa del Rey trophy.
CAM: Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Another key member of the spine around which the successful Chelsea team of the 2000’s was built. Lampard is the third-most frequently used player by Mourinho during his managerial career, having made 215 appearances across the Portuguese’s two stints with the West Londoners. During this time, the current Chelsea boss scored 70 goals and set up 60 more, cementing his legacy as one of the finest goal-scoring midfielders in the game.
CAM: Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
A player Mourinho hand-picked upon arriving at Real Madrid, Mesut Ozil played a key role in whatever success Jose enjoyed at the Bernabeu. During the pair’s time together in Spain, Ozil made a total of 157 appearances, scoring 27 goals and recording a mind-boggling 80 assists. The German playmaker was the man who made the play tick in the final third at Real under Jose and would soon depart the club after the Portuguese moved on.
LW: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
There was a brief period when the pair appeared to be at loggerheads, but for Mourinho to enjoy a second successful stint at Chelsea, Eden Hazard was a key cog. The Belgian wing-wizard made 125 appearances under the Portuguese boss between 2013 and 2015, scoring 36 goals and assisting 30 more, helping the team to a Premier League title and a League Cup success.
ST: Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Who else but the man who led the line for Mourinho’s Chelsea with such aplomb? Drogba was one of Mourinho’s first signings at Chelsea and the Ivorian repaid the manager’s faith with such amazing performances for so many years, that he attained a legendary status at the club.
Drogba, under Mourinho, made 186 appearances, scoring 73 goals in the process as well as assisting 39 more. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Mourinho’s Chelsea side may not have reached the heights that they did without the Ivorian spearheading the attack.
Image courtesy: AFP/ Glyn Kirk