Jose Mourinho as chess strategist

May 10, 2017

 

jose-mourinho-and-coat

Jose Mourinho has frequently confounded football pundits with his statements and decisions. He may be still be a chess grandmaster of football strategy

Jose Mourinho’s track record as a football manager is beyond dispute. Since his first appointment,  he has won leagues and international trophies with remarkable frequency. He attracted attention of the leading clubs in Europe and continued on his winning ways throughout his career.

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Claudio Ranieri: The Tinkerman leads Leicester, Jose leaves Chelsea

December 27, 2015
Claudio Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri is a rare individual in the top reaches of football management He exudes amiability towards the world, combined with passion towards the game from the touch line.
He arrived in England in 2000 to coach Chelsea, a prestigious club, but, on sheer weight of trophies, one less successful over the years than  two heavyweights from the North West, Manchester United and Liverpool, and (as galling for local pride) their London Rivals, Arsenal.
Ranieri produces results
In a short period of time Ranieri produced results.  He took Chelsea to runner-up position, its highest level ever at the time, in the Premiership, To this he added a semifinal of the European Cup.  Only the most churlish fans of the ‘runners up are losers’ mentality could complain.  Mostly, the fans were delighted.  They were even able to enjoy Claudio’s relentless search for the best team, and his tinkering with starting positions which earned him his reputation as The Tinkerman.
His  less than perfect grasp of English and cheerful tone in press conferences added to his popularity.
Ranieri’s stay at Chelsea was about to be hit in the most radical change in fortune in the. Club’s history.  They were acquired by the Russian Multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich.  From the outset it was clear that Chelsea would buy the best players, pay the best wages, and, no secret, the best coach.
Abramovich hires Jose
An unsuccessful attempt was made to lure Sven-Goran Ericsson away from his post as manager of England’s national team.
Meanwhile, a young coach was making an impression on European football  with the Portuguese side Porto.  His name was Jose Mourinho. Porto won the European cup.  Abramovich hired Jose.  The Tinkerman left Chelsea.
The ironies of fate
A decade later, in December 2015, Ranieri took the unfashionable club Leicester City to the top of the Premiership.  Mourinho was at Chelsea for his second spell as manager there, with a team that was struggling  close to the relegation zone.
In one of those ironies of fate, Ranieri’s team faced Chelsea in December and won convincingly. A few days later, Abramovich sacked Jose Mourinho for the second time.
Sometimes, as football philosophers such as Justin Timberlake says, what goes round comes round.
Aknowledgements
[Extracted from ‘Mourinho Matters‘  (c) Tudor Rickards, to be published in early 2016]
With all best wishes, and thanks for your  support,  to my valued contributors and all those subscribers who clicked on LWD in 2015.

Jose Departs: Reflections on Perceptions versus Reality

December 24, 2015

I'll be backLeaders We Deserve subscriber Paul Hinks reflects on the departure of Jose Mourinho ‘by mutual agreement’ from Chelsea Football club

 

For the second time in recent history, Chelsea Football Club have parted company with their most successful manager of all time: Jose Mourinho. The leadership style of the self-proclaimed Special One invites closer inspection.

Mourinho has often been referred to as charismatic – but what happens when charisma is not enough? when the leader fails to take others with them?

The Reality of Success

By the time Mourinho had left Chelsea “by mutual agreement” on Thursday [17 December 2015]  Chelsea were just above the Premier League relegation zone. They had lost 9 games already in their latest campaign, compared with just 3 games in the whole of the previous season.

This was not the form of a team capable of successfully defending their title – indeed this was unchartered territory for Chelsea who had previously successfully challenged for both domestic and European honours under the ownership and guidance of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea’s lowly position in the Premiership table was unexpected. Most commentators struggled to explain how a squad of players could falter so spectacularly in such a short period of time.

Perhaps success was not a formality after all?

Big players, Big money, Big reputations

 

For those unfamiliar with football, Jose Mourinho reputation precedes him. He is a world class football coach who’s consistently delivered success at some of the world’s top football clubs.

This track record of success at different clubs provides some evidence to help validate opinion that ‘Jose’ is the ‘Special One’ – a man with some ‘magic mystical ingredient’ that helps delivers success.

With the big stage comes the big personalities and the challenge of managing big player egos – the dilemmas associated with player self-interest and hidden agendas – players and their agents who may want to engineer a lucrative transfer to another club to invoke lucrative sign-on fees?

Or perhaps footballers wives and girlfriends who would prefer to shop and live in a more cosmopolitan and glamorous city?

The footballing landscape manifests unusual and perhaps unique situations that can make the life very complex and adds unwanted pressure.

Power versus Leadership

Speculation and rumours of tensions in the Chelsea dressing room suggest Jose has had serious difficulties this season. was already on the back foot. The tipping point was the defeat that Mourinho and Chelsea suffered playing away to unlikely Premiership leaders Leicester City on Monday 14th December 2015 – ultimately a catalyst for Mourinho and Chelsea to part-company.

The Daily Mail provided insight:

When Jose Mourinho returns to work on Wednesday, he will be confronted by a group of grumbling Chelsea players who are far from happy with his scathing post-match analysis at Leicester City.

Mourinho’s use of the word ‘betrayal’ to describe John Terry and Kurt Zouma’s defensive lapse when Jamie Vardy scored in the 34th minute at the King Power Stadium stripped the dressing room of its dignity.

He has lost these players now, destroying their self-esteem in his criticism of the champions, either publicly or privately. It is a toxic dressing room now.

 

Mourinho’s standards are high. He expects the best from his players. During press conferences Mourinho has previously referred to his team, or individuals’ in his team, as ‘Champions’. An example of how Mourinho’s emotional intelligence is always engaged. Equally when things aren’t going so well, Mourinho’s style falters.

So when the results are not going his way so the inquiry and inevitable speculation starts in to what has gone wrong with the Special One’s charismatic ways?

Hero to Zero?

Mourinho’s very public clash with Dr Eva Carneiro was a critical moment in Mourinho’s 2015 Chelsea season and a good starting point for analysis.

The Telegraph was one of many news agencies that reported on how the Chelsea doctor had rushed on to the pitch to treat an injured Chelsea player (Eden Hazzard) when Chelsea played Swansea on 8th August 2015.

In the end, Dr Carneiro left Chelsea FC, but the damage was done. Mourinho’s misjudgement and mishandling of a single event was a pivotal moment in Mourinho’s recent period in charge.

What next for Jose?

Mourinho’s teams have consistently delivered success in silverware, the currency that fans and owners of football clubs crave most. for: silverware. Mourinho is a successful football coach in commercial terms. However, with continued success comes the increased weight of expectation. On closer inspection Jose also can be seen to leave behind a less than healthy legacy in  human terms.

But the signs are that Jose may be out, but certainly not finished. The words of another charismatic, come to mind. “I’ll be back”.

 


Mourinho reveals his superhuman powers of diagnosing medical injuries from the touch line

August 12, 2015

200px-Jose_Mourinho-07In the first match of the new season, league champions Chelsea draw at home to Swansea City. The Chelsea goalkeeper is sent off for a rash challenge.In the press conference after the game, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho criticizes Eva Carneiro, the club doctor, for attending to an injured player late in the game, an action which had forced the team briefly to continue with nine players on the pitch. 

He subsequently banned Dr Carneiro from the touchline in future games. Her future at Chelsea is in doubt.

The Special One

For a long time, many people have suspected that the Chelsea manager has superhuman powers. He is known as The Special One, a description that he never denied. His special gifts extend to never making a poor decision requiring him to admit fallibility.

Infrequently his explanations suggest that a match strategy has not been successful, but his true followers explain this as part of his genius at taking the blame for his players’ errors. Now we know the truth.

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How firing a leader may be explained in Keynesian terms

April 1, 2013

By John Keane

The firing of leaders should be clear evidence of rational decision processes. Sometimes it seems driven by irrational expectations

My example comes from the world of football in England, but it could easily be extended to other business situations.

As Easter approached [March 2013] Premier League battles for survival were heating up. Six clubs were considered most likely to supply the three who would be relegated, with serious loss in income. If a boost to performance could be achieved in the final ten games, financial disaster could be avoided. It is considerably harder for a club to fight its way back, as the relegation to the Championship has considerable consequences on recruitment of new players, sponsorship and match attendances.

On firing a leader

The decision to fire a manager seems to be one primarily taken by a powerful owner, who may or may not be influenced by others such as the manager, and (or so the fans would like to believe) the vocal protests of supporters.

One of the most powerful and wealthy owners, Roman Abramovitch of Chelsea, has a track record of removing managers in search of others he approves of more. At present his choice has already been told he is a stop gap to be replaced at the end of the season by the best manager money can buy. This is somewhat different as Chelsea is also able to buy good enough players to win trophies. They are currently European Champions, but the achievement was not enough to save the last manager from being fired.

The candidates for the chop

Managers facing relegation this year included those at Southampton, Wigan, Aston Villa, Reading, Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland. One of these (QPR) acted earlier in the season and appointed Harry Redknapp, one of the most experienced managers capable of helping ‘the great escape’. Reading, Southampton and Aston Villa pressed the trigger later. In these cases the replacement is not obviously a better manager by track record than the departing one. This is particularly the case for Sunderland, who replaced a manager of considerable prior achievements, with a controversial one with less experience.

These sorts of decisions illustrate the Keynesian view that financial decisions are driven by irrational forces and expectations. Or, as Keynesians like to say, the leaders are left trying to ‘push on a piece of string’ [to obtain supply-side wins] to achieve better results than might otherwise have been produced.


In search of authenticity in a leader: should we start with politicians watching a televised football match?

May 31, 2012

David Cameron is claimed to be dropping in popularity for his inauthentic behaviours. An example is examined, based on his image as an “authentic” football fan complete with rolled-up sleeves, watching the transmission of the European football cup final with other world leaders

Andreas Whittam Smith of The Independent constructed an entire article around an episode taken as as evidence of the Prime Minister’s inauthenticity of leadership style.

Opinion over analysis

The piece was intended to provide opinion rather than deep analysis. In that respect it has a degree of authenticity. That did not prevent comments in reply which came with a great deal of anger directed at Mr Whittam Smith’s opinions of Mr Cameron, as well as counter-arguments about other politicians.

The article did seem to select some rather contradictory and selective examples to compare and contrast the authentic with the inauthentic. Boris Johnson and Francois Hollande were cited as authentic; Cameron and Sarcozy as inauthentic.

It would have been better to examine the evidence of inauthenticity beyond a simple either-or classification. However, the author of the piece captures one important point about authentic leadership:

What is going wrong for the Prime Minister, David Cameron? His personal standing with the electorate has fallen precipitously, according to opinion polls. I found a small clue to what may be doing the damage in one of the pictures of world leaders attending a summit meeting at Camp David outside Washington last weekend. They had taken time out to watch the Chelsea/Bayern Munich football match.

The photographers had snapped Mr Cameron leaping to his feet with arms outstretched to celebrate Chelsea’s winning goal. It was the football victory salute. What could be more natural? Chelsea had won the Champions League for the first time. Yet it reminded me of the mid-1980s when Mr Cameron was at school.

Was that Mr Cameron’s problem, I wondered? For false notes are damaging in politics, just as authenticity is a great asset.

The authentic leadership concept

There is considerable interest in authentic leadership among researchers at present. A special issue of Leadership Quarterly examined the concept.

A leading advocate is Harvard Professor Bill George, the former business leader, who argues for authenticity as a factor necessary for 21st century leadership.

But leaders may need to be inauthentic at times

The concept is not without its critics. It may be argued that authenticity of belief may be a secondary consideration in dealing with urgent crisis situations. (“He’s a greedy self-centred individual, but I’d want him with me in a tough corner”).

Put another way, leaders need a mask of command, a concept which may need to be considered within discussions of authentic leadership.

Acknowledgement

The image appeared in various cropped formats around the web. I fould this example of David Cameron, plus other easy-to-identify football fans at the moment of Chelsea’s triumph over Bayern Munich on the website of Nation.com Pakistan.

Note to subscribers

This blog written as the author prepares for renewal of home-office facilities. More to follow.


On shaking hands and creative leadership in the John Terry Wayne Bridge saga

February 27, 2010

A sad sporting leadership story shows how creativity can be a leader’s secret weapon

Every tale of leadership offers opportunities for learning. “How would I deal with that decision?” is a good question. In the over-publicised case of John Terry and Wayne Bridge, there is also the question “What would I have done to avoid getting into mess in the first place?” For anyone not interested in football, you need to be aware that John Terry was recently stripped of the Captaincy of the England football team. He had been involved in an extra-marital affair with the former partner of former team-mate Wayne Bridge. Public interest is fueled this week by the news that Bridges has decided not to take part in the up-coming world cup later this year.

Leaders we deserve has advocated the merits of creative leadership. How might this play out in practice? Take the critical incident being anticipated today [February 27th, 2009]. Chelsea and Manchester City are due to play a football match. John Terry will be expected to lead out Chelsea (he retains the captaincy of that team). He will be expected to shake hands with members of the opposing team. So there we have a dilemma of leadership. What to do if the handshake is spurned? Oh, yes it’s only a handshake. But for ‘only a hand-shake’ why is the story taking on huge signficance, at least for journalists? That’s another story, and one about symbolism and leadership.

How might creative leadership come into this?

We can start with the assumption that dilemmas often result in either/or thinking. Break the ‘either-or’ and you have a chance of escpaing the dilemma. I’ve also written about this as knight’s move thinking. Edward de Bono would probably say it’s where Lateral Thinking is needed.

The locked-in thinking presents the story as simply one man shaking hands with another. Suppose we pose it as “how to arrange the pre-match handshakes between Chelsea and Manchester City differently (in view of the unusual circumstances surrounding the event)”. I can think of several things that might happen. My thinking has switched from ‘what Wayne Bridge must do’ to ‘what might Chelsea and Manchester City captains, players, and maybe supporters decide to do’. And, that is a matter of co-creativity, and distributed leadership.

Whatever happens this afternoon at Stanford Bridge will be an opportunity for considering ‘what might have been’.

Postscipt

At the start of the match, John Terry offered his hand to Wayne Bridge. Bridge rejects the proferred hand. Chelsea fans boo Bridge enthusiastically throughout the game. But another story was to supplant the hand-shake one. Chelsea lost at home 4-2. Two of their players were sent off by the referee. And I didn’t notice a lot of creative leadership. The ‘fake shake’ gave the tabloids a few headlines the following day.