Some people are just natural winners. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of hard work and graft that goes into their success, but the driving factor behind their work is their desire to win. These people just so happen to be the people that end up at the very top of their profession, and football is no different. There are countless stories of how Frank Lampard would spend hours on the training pitch to be the best he could be. You see Cristiano Ronaldo; his confidence often appears to be arrogance, but there is no doubting it works, he refuses to lose, and this pays off.
In the managerial world this is the same, the winners win, and that’s often the difference between a club’s success and failure.
We can look at some managers in the Premier League and around the world, and separate the average managers from the good managers, and then the good managers again from the winners. They are a rare breed, but you have to look no further than one of England’s biggest clubs -Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho is a winner, he thrives on success and detests defeat. His press conferences and interviews after defeats are far from glamorous. He would not admit it, but he is one of the most unreasonable men in football. It is either the fault of the ref, the opposition’s diving players, or famously the club’s physio. Some argue that this is just a diversion tactic to take the spotlight away from his team’s poor performance but actually, I think he just cannot stand to lose.
This arrogance may get under the skin of many, but in the unforgiving, result driven game of football, this is what separates him from the rest of the pack. His predecessor, Louis Van Gaal, did not have this ruthless streak, and before him, Davis Moyes certainly did not possess this quality- I use ‘quality’ intentionally; it’s a necessary trait to have to be successful.
Even when we look at other clubs, Arsene Wenger is more than happy to praise the opposition after a defeat, he will accept that his team were not good enough on the day. Mauricio Pochettino is another example of a very classy manager who has received praise for his managing ability, but he has not ever won anything. Mourinho has been with Man United for half a season, and he has won the EFL Cup. Admittedly there is a large building process currently underway at Spurs, with both the new stadium and a new upcoming young team, but eventually, Pochettino is going to have to start making the project come to fruition, and start to win some silverware.
You could make comparisons between other managers and Jose. Pep Guardiola is another “proud” manager. We have seen him refuse to drop Claudio Bravo, and continue to instruct Man City to commit defensive suicide by playing out from the back. Nonetheless, he’s an incredibly successful manager who has won nearly everything he could in the countries he has managed in.
I’ve highlighted Mourinho in particular however because it is just outstanding how someone can win so much, even if they are not the best team in the situation. They have spent a significant amount of money, including the most expensive player in the world Paul Pogba, but they are 6th in the league and have only recently found a good run of form. Typical, when the cup final approaches, Jose’s team stand up and are counted. A winner’s mentality.
Sir Alex Ferguson was very much the same. He would never be satisfied until they won. Recount all the ‘Fergie time’ goals and ask yourself, who was the driving factor behind pushing the team on to win the game? Sometimes, even winning wasn’t enough; Sir Alex famously branded his Aberdeen Scottish Cup winning side’s performance as “disgraceful.”
Manchester United are on the rise; they are two points out of the top four with a capable squad and momentum. Everyone will say that Spurs have had a good season if they finish in the top four the same or Liverpool and some Arsenal fans- cue the Arsene Wenger debate.
The reality is though these teams may finish the season with no silverware to show for it, and just another Champions League finish. Mourinho will end with at least one piece of silverware, with the potential for possibly the double and maybe even the treble. He will have won where others will have been satisfied with a “progressive” year.
That is what makes Jose Mourinho a winner, and that’s why despite being outplayed, Manchester United were still able to find an 87th-minute winner to win the EFL Cup.
By Sam Edgoose – Twitter- @samedgoose