How Not To Become A Jose Mourinho Manager At Work

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So after I wrote my article How Not To Become A David Moyes At Work I got a lot of cheeky comments from some particular Chelsea fans (no names mentioned you know yourselves) on Sunday April 27th that asked why I had not written a How Not To Become A Jose Mourinho at Work article.

Now I am quite sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Chelsea had just beaten Liverpool at Anfield with a supposedly weakened team on Sunday. Or the fact that I am a Liverpool fan … lies …

All soccer allegiances aside, I think there are some very interesting things to learn about Jose Mourinho this season that we can apply to work management…so here goes…

#1 Recruit From Within Your Organization First Before Recruiting Outside

One of the thing that baffles me about Managers is this addiction to recruit talent from outside when they already have talent in their very own company. And they do so at a much higher price, ignoring the talent within their organization … dismissing them as being too young, too inexperienced and not worthy of that big pay raise. It’s as if there is this magical and might I add false belief that outside organization hiring is better, that why you see time and time again that the people that earn the most are normally the ones that have changed jobs the most. But let’s ignore the money aspect for a second and look at the performance aspect.

According to the, on January 29, 2014, Chelsea had 39 goal attempts against West Ham out of that they scored a whooping zero times. This was the most goal attempts by any Premier League club in the last 10 years without scoring! But this is nothing new, Mourinho anticipated that Chelsea needed strikers at the start of the season, but what he did to address this was bizarre and confusing.

He loaned out a proven striker by the name of Romelu Lukaku to Everton despite the fact that he had scored 17 times last season. To replace Lukaku, Mourinho went all the way to Russia to bring in Samuel Eto, who was playing in the less competitive Russian league. But that was just a fragment of the bigger picture …. the number of goals Chelsea players had scored this season was 60, while the number of goals the players they had loaned out to other teams had scored was an impressive 82 as of January 2014!

If Chelsea had held on players like Lukaku that were already in their system and not focused on hiring from outside, who knows where they would be this season. As Managers we need to focus on the talent we have from within before looking outside.

#2 Your Very Own Outside Talent May Come Back To Hurt You

Watching 21 year old Athletico Goal Keeper Thibaut Courtois make save after save against Chelsea in their April 30th Champions League victory over Chelsea was spell binding. In fact the only goal that got past him during the entire 180 minutes of the double leg encounter was a deflection. This was a sharp contrast to the other end, the Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who become the oldest Champions league debutante at the age of 41!

A 20 year age gap and miles of difference in performance. As a spectator your gut feeling is to say, “man Chelsea should really buy the Athletico keeper!” I was like you, until I realized that Thibaut Courtois is actually already a Chelsea player! He was in fact loaned out to Athletico Madrid to gain experience. A good idea by Chelsea except like the striker situation it came back to bite them and directly.

As Managers it is easy for us to think that people we lose to other companies and other departments cannot come back to bite us, but they can. We could send them to Europe, they could quit and take a job in Africa but because of the inter-connectivity of the world they can always have an effect on us. The lesson is this … that guy you let go or don’t give a promotion because he is too young might come back and boss you around in your own bridge department!

#3 Don’t Taunt Your Rivals

Jose Mourinho to Arsene Wenger

“He is a specialist in failure. I’m not … But the reality is he’s a specialist because, eight years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure.”

This might be a pre-mature point granted that Chelsea can still mathematically win the 2013/14 EPL if Liverpool and Manchester City both choke simultaneously (cough cough). But if the mathematics don’t work, Mourinho will be facing his second year without a trophy and it could be the start of years of trophy-less seasons. When Arsenal won the 2005 FA cup it was hard to fathom that it was the start of several trophy-less seasons.

In fact if you said that Arsenal was not going to win any trophy for the next 8 years people would have slapped you. But now Chelsea might be on that path now and the irony (although mathematically still possible not to happen) is that Arsenal could break their trophy deficiency with a victory in the FA cup final against Hull in May.

Whatever happens, its just never a good idea to taunt your rivals when they are down especially as a Manager. And when I talk about rivals I am not just talking about other companies, I am talking about other departments within companies. It is very easy to get caught up in your success as a department, easy to make fun of other departments that are not doing so well, but things change. Nothing is permanent. Your department could be down-sized, another department might become the darling of the company, who knows.

In Apple the Engineering department was superior to the Design department, Steve Jobs reversed all that and made the Design department the key department. In Google it is the reverse, Engineers rule, but like everything in life things change. So don’t go around making fun of other companies or departments because you might find yourself on the receiving end.

#4 Don’t Mistake Luck For Talent

Back to the origin of this article … Chelsea beat Liverpool fair and square on April 27th.

But after the victory the Media talked about how Jose Mourinho was a tactical genius, how he out played Brendan Rogers how he over came Rodgers with mind games by fielding a second string team and other tactical stuff. And what did Jose Mourinho do, he accepted the tactical genius tag and soon everybody was eating the tactical genius pie. 

But all that really happened was that Gerard slipped. It was the same double slip that happened to Azpilcueta when he brought down Jose Altidore to give Sunderland a penalty … but nobody called Gus Poyet the Sunderland coach a tactical genius. When John Terry slipped and headed into his own post versus Crystal Palace … nobody called Tony Pulis the Crystal Palance manager a genius. But in the case of Mourinho, a beach ball could alter the game and the media will say it was a tactical plan. And Jose will accept it.

As a Manager it is easy to want to take credit for things we have impacts on as well as those we don’t have direct impacts on. It feeds our egos, it makes us look good, but what it also does is that it flatters the team/management. On the short term we might pass but on the long term, the team and you can get exposed.

Sometimes its okay as a manager to say I had no control over that, it simply happened by luck or we won because of an error the other team made. By not mistaking luck for talent, it helps the company understand better their weaknesses and strengths, but more importantly it helps us understand our own strengths and weaknesses!


At the end of the day Jose Mourinho is a great manager of a great football club (virus entered my computer and typed that) that is having one bad season. A bad season that for 15 other clubs in the EPL will be a phenomenal season. So while I have focused on the Mourinho mistakes above and used them as lessons, there is a still a positive aspect to Mourinho that we can all learn from and that is that we should raise our standards so high that even our internal failures look like external victories to others.

Dedicated to the Special One. #YNWA

twitterWritten By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
Follow him on Twitter
Stalk him on Instagram
Read his crazy titled books on konga or okadabooks
Feed his children at…no wait he has no kids…. 

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13 comments on “How Not To Become A Jose Mourinho Manager At Work

  1. danbasy effiwatt on said:

    Well said. my best part is #4. never mistake luck for talent. I just love the whole analyses.

  2. AkinTolaSpeaks on said:

    Nice one….. But a divergent school of thought might want to disagree with you based on the #YNWA elements or as you being a Liverpool. Sentiment aside, its a sound and informative piece. Up Chelsea! But Liverpool is my favourite club in terms of culture and historicity. I am a Chelsea fan sha! And I am Los Blancos fan in terms of Business-wise of football (or soccer).

  3. First of all, that’s very tactical of you. Permit me to review the chelsea – liverpool match once again. Fine, it was a slip from Gerard that gave chelsea a lead against rival liverpool. But, the main reason the media over watch Mourinho genius and tactical game was the ability to efficiently manage a second team with premier league leaders that are seriously craving for the league cup. Everybody knows that its cat and dog when it comes to this two clubs. Everybody knows from record that a closer look at this two clubs bearing from last three to four seasons, any time they both met liverpool have performed better than chelsea. But the big question is how did he do it with a second team when liverpool are in top gear for the league.

    So comparing with sunderland and crystal palace game to me doesn’t count. Mourinho’s substitution and defence management in that game makes him the SPECIALONE that he truly is. #LongLiveChelseaFootballClub

  4. Great piece. Mourinho is a great manager. I admire his ‘pride’. Any lessons to Learn from my manager Giggsy yet? lol

  5. muyiwasoares on said:

    All true sporting greats from Ali to Jordan to Mourinho share a common trait..they hate failure and thrive on challenges even when people doubt their ability,same goes for the best enterpreneurs..Bill Gates as a new recruit in IBM gave a prototype of the Windows application to his bosses..they told him it wasn’t feasible..he resigned his appointment,started Microsoft and within two years overtook IBM as the biggest software company in the world..Jose Mourinho a young upstart,took the reigns at Porto,he shook the whole of Europe when in won the CL with a modest Porto side..he wasn’t done just yet..he arrived in England and won two Premierships in his first two seasons..We berate him by even suggesting that he is lucky!

    • Amazing how pple try to explain away your success. Luck? Jose Mourinho is an achiever. He understands that after he is long gone from the game, pple will judge him based on the fruits he bore. Luck? I guess it was luck that earned Chelsea its victory against Liverpool in the first half of last season. It must be luck that made Chelsea smash Arsenal 6-1…its definitely luck that caused Chelsea to beat Mancity Home and Away…Abegi…Ofili…Mou is the one Manager you want ro have in your organisation

  6. Christian chinedu on said:

    Compliments. Save for “don’t taunt your rivals”, your very intelligent piece smacks unfortunately, of bias and emotions. Yes, you are a Liverpool fan,but you promised fairness. First, any good coach who wants to win trophies will go for experience. That’s why Jose went for eto. Yes, the blame game… because it didn’t work, but the decision was brilliant. Second, Jose didn’t send tibout (keeper) on loan to atletico, it was a decision made ever before Jose arrived for his second mission. Third, Jose is a hugely talented coach, among the best in the world. Yes, he is a showman, okey, he is arrogant and more. But, like him or hate him, you can’t deny he knows his job. Luck is definitely an important player in our lives, but it’s never all about luck. Being prepared and knowing your game is key in life. Jose is a damn good tactician, he has a winning mentality and he is a game changer. He is not a yesterday’s man yet and won’t be any time soon. Winner in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain……. and just lucky? I must say i read your blog with relish and awe at how good you think and write. Are you just lucky to be this good? Honestly?

  7. Nice piece! I like the balanced view of my coach, I think he’s one of the best coaches currently but the guy sabi run mouth sha. You’re a very wise man Ofili, I like how you bring out beautiful lessons from stuff everyone sees but refuse to notice

  8. Ernest on said:

    As a dedicated Arsenal Fan, I am compelled by a strong sense of obligation to come back here and point out that Arsenal won the FA Cup!! Never taunt your rival you said…. Well at least Chelsea won no trophy *cough* … The count begins hehhehehehehehe

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