Jose Mourinho & The Three-Year Cycle

‘The Special One’ hasn’t exactly had the best start to the third season of his second spell at Stamford Bridge. His Chelsea team have already lost six times in the opening eleven games of the Premier League, making their chances of defending last seasons title look critically slim. Add that to the team’s poor performances in Europe and a League Cup exit at the hands of Stoke City, and you might start to think the manager might be missing that special something.

To be clear, Jose Mourinho & The Three-Year Cycle is not the name of a new indie/folk band in the vein of Mumford & Sons. Given some observations of the manager and his teams however, you could argue that it soon could be.

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Previous History

Jose Mourinho has made a habit of short tenures. Despite having spells in charge of FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Chelsea again, the manager has never actually stayed at any club for more than three consecutive seasons.

What’s interesting to look at is the aftermath once Jose has left each club.

Both FC Porto and Internazionale failed to defend their titles won under ‘The Special One’, with the post-Mourinho season costing Rafa Benitez his job at Inter and, incredibly, the managerial jobs of Luigi Delneri, Victor Fernandez, and Jose Couceiro at Porto.

Whilst the circumstances at Porto, an exodus of key players as well as the sacking of the manager before the season had even began, can negate that example, there are similarities between Rafa Benitez’s season at Inter and Jose’s current predicament at Chelsea.

This summer, somewhat out of character, Chelsea didn’t make any marquee signings. Falcao was brought in as a backup striker but, with the exception of Pedro, no one was brought in to drastically change the makeup of the first eleven – as with how Rafa Benitez started in 2010.

Given that these two teams are effectively unaltered, title winning sides, why did they fall from grace so quickly?


Jose Mourinho is a very uncompromising manager. Metaphorically speaking, his tactics involve parking several buses in front of the goal and asking players to push and pull the contraptions into position as the match progresses. It’s ugly to watch but seemingly gets results.

This takes a lot out of players and isn’t helped by Jose’s dislike for rotating his squad – emphasised recently in the metro by how, since 2012, four of the five players who have played the most minutes for club and country play for Chelsea.

As evidenced by the tamely defended three goals Chelsea shipped to Liverpool last weekend, it’s hard to play with the same kind of energy after two seasons of going all out – pushing ten tonne buses along the way.

Players don’t like becoming burnt out so much either. As much as playing for Chelsea means money and success, players are going to view that a lot less favourably if it means potentially shortening their career through overexertion – just (reportedly) ask Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas.

The pressure too can affect them mentally. Could it be possible to link Chelsea’s failure to ever win a penalty shootout under Mourinho to the style of the manager himself? Maybe.


As Daniel Sturridge, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, and potentially even Ruben Loftus-Cheek will testify, Jose Mourinho isn’t one for giving youth a chance. What this means is that when his trusted players show signs of aging, take the 34 year old captain for example, there’s no one to immediately step up and take their place.

The Indie/Folk Band

When ‘The Special One’ rejoined Chelsea, he talked of building a dynasty. While he may have won everything there is to win as a manager in club football, he’s never been able to build successive teams at the same club in the way that Sir Alex Ferguson did at Manchester United.

Given the observations mentioned above, how Jose overworks his teams and can’t seem to plan beyond the current season, maybe it’s just not in his managerial skill set? Maybe he is better off following the example of Mumford & Sons who, after all, have at least managed to make it through to their fourth mediocre album together without blaming any officials.