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Coaching much more than tactics

Published:Tuesday | December 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMOral Tracey, Contributor

THE RECENT sacking of arguably the world’s best and most successful football coach, José Mourinho, as the boss of English Premier Champions Chelsea, is still dominating discussions across the football world.

Public opinion is still split as to whether Mourinho should have been fired at this point, or should a man who has won so many titles and received so many accolades during his two coaching stints at Chelsea be given more time to redeem himself and the club?

In pure football terms, the sacking is justified. Football is still very much a results business, and if the results are poor – as they have been this season – only sentiments and emotions could have kept Mourinho in his job.

The firebrand personality of the eccentric Portuguese simply added spectacle and news value to his demise.

There is an important distinction that very few are making in the blitz of discussions on this issue: that is the precious balance that needs to be found and maintained between being a good tactician and a good man manager.

That is the key balance that eluded Mourinho in his final days and weeks, and indeed months, on the job at Stamford Bridge.

I cannot fathom Jose Mourinho all of a sudden transforming from one of the best coaches on the planet into being such a neophyte and poor and hapless tactician.


The glaring weakness that was exposed by this saga was Mourinho’s inability in times of adversity to maintain the trust and respect of his players.

The nine defeats in 16 games, which saw Chelsea domiciled in the vicinity of the relegation zone when the axe fell on Mourinho, was in no way indicative of the coach’s competence as a tactician, or as some are suggesting of the quality of the core players in the squad who, lest we forget, crowned themselves EPL champions three months before.

It is obvious that Mourinho systematically lost the trust and loyalty of his players.

The unfamiliar territory of having to guide a team struggling for form sent Mourinho into selfdestruct mode.

His impulsive outbursts and constant public attacks and criticism of his key players resulted in a total loss of that Chelsea dressing room.

Whether by design or by accident, Mourinho went ballistic on his skipper, John Terry; his creative genius, Eden Hazard; his central defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matic; and his star striker, Diego Costa. That course of action gradually took him to the point of no return.

Having got to that point, it was a matter of when Mourinho would be fired and not if he would be fired.

I am willing to make a bet or two that Chelsea, with these same players, will get more positive results more consistently, beginning immediately with the change in psychology in the dressing room.

Equally, Mourinho, with his tactical competence intact, assuming he learns from his mistakes and maintains the trust of the players, will be winning titles and trophies in his very next coaching assignment.

A word or two of advice to Mourinho, though, is that he should try to keep the trust and respect of the players; avoid losing the dressing room; and most important, be wary of attacking and sacking team doctors for seeing to the medical welfare of his players. Take heed, Mourinho if you hope to regain your status as the ‘Special One’.