Once heralded as one of the best man managers of his era, Jose Mourinho has had to spend the better part of the last decade trying to hold onto this notion. A short exchange between him and Paul Pogba last Wednesday was enough to reignite the conversation if he is remnant of the past or not. Mourinho has also stripped the World Cup winner of his vice-captaincy and publically maintains that there is no bad blood between the two. Their relationship is unlikely to improve anytime soon. This was exacerbated by the back that Pogba was subbed off early in the second half of their 3-1 defeat at the Hammers. What feels like a millennia ago during his run as the manager of Porto, his first spell at Chelsea and at Inter Milan, Jose was seen as a players’ manager. He publically took responsibility when things went south and praised all his players during their victories. The Portuguese manager was maintained close relationships with his players proclaiming that they would do anything for the man. All of this changed after his appointment to the helm of the Santiago Bernabeu. Clashes with several of Madrid’s star players became the norm. And ever since, the trend has continued where Mourinho is unable to foster working relations with his leading players. Pogba is just the latest name on what is a very long list.
Mourinho appointment to the role as Real Madrid’s manager was a reactionary move in response to Guardiola’s Barcelona. The Catalan giants of 2010-11 (Jose’s first season with the Los Blancos) may be the greatest club side to ever play the game and this is certain to have rubbed Mourinho the wrong way. He simply could not allow the distance between the El Clasico rivals to expand. Even if it meant feuding with the talismans of the Meringues. It is widely spoken of in football circles that Casillas’ (the then Real Madrid captain) closeness with his Spanish teammates playing for the Blaugrana is said to have angered Jose. Madrid were able to recapture the La Liga title after Barcelona won three on the trot. The mood in the locker-room did not have a celebratory atmosphere and their efforts to win the league appeared to have drained the morale within the Bernabeu.
In their attempts to defend their title, Mourinho dropped his captain in December 2012 for Antonio Adan. He fractured his hand just a month later against Valencia leaving Mourinho in the hunt for a new keeper and signed Diego Lopez in the closing days of the transfer window. Since his return from injury, Lopez was always viewed as the number one option between the sticks ahead of the more senior goalkeeper. All of this was surrounded by speculation on Jose’s part that stories were being leaked to the press that detailed the tumultuous relations between the manager and many of Madrid’s senior players.
Their conflict continued in what would be Jose’s last season at the Spanish capital before moving to London for his second spell at Stamford Bridge. Casillas was never able to regain his first-team status or his form. He did, however, start in all but one of Madrid’s games in their 2013-14 Champions League that resulted in them win La Decima. A year later – after a torrid World Cup – and a return to first team action, he signed with Porto ending a 25-year-run with the Real Madrid.
The two countrymen are said to have been on decent terms (at least in the eye of the public) during a time when Cristiano Ronaldo was in the peak of his powers. Ronaldo scored 32, 37, and 30 league goals in each of their three seasons together. The Madeira native had his three best seasons in terms of Goals and Assists per 90 (not including the 2014-15 season where he averaged a career-high 1.86 G+A per 90). Their relationship was probably helped by the fact the pair are represented by compatriot and super-agent, Jorge Mendes. That being said, Mendes was reportedly a mediator whenever the two would feud behind closed doors. The effects of Casillas’ clashes with the now 55-year-old manager were felt throughout the whole dressing room.
The Portuguese boss is said to have clashed with the talismanic No. 7 over the latter inability to follow instructions and fit into his defensive-minded tactics. Ronaldo might have had his best seasons ever even though he did look out of place. He is not synonymous with consistently tracking back and this is said to have irked Jose. The managers’ instructions fell on deaf ears. His attempts to mold Ronaldo into his ultra-defensive formula that worked in Inter Milan and Chelsea were in vain. Ronaldo’s air of confidence as one of the best players in the world was also a point of contention is it made critiquing Ronaldo a lot harder. All of this elevated to the point where the two Portuguese nationals were not on talking terms. It got to the point where Ronaldo was primarily taking instructions from Jose’s right-hand man; Rui Faria. Their disputes continued and it resulted in Ronaldo being dropped for key games. Jorge Mendes was forced to step in and facilitate their ‘reconciliation.’ Mendes was distressed by his client’s benching who is the hunt for the Pichichi. In the aftermath of the clashes, the two are said to have hardly make eye contact. Their communication came in the form of mediators. The only reason their run together lasted for as long as it did because Jorge Mendes did the best he could for both his clients.
Even after Mourinho parted ways with Real Madrid, he continued to take shots at his compatriot. On multiple occasions, he has aired out his grievances at Ronaldo’s lack of acceptance towards his tactics. He has also disparaged Ronaldo’s personality as a player whose insecurities prevent him from taking any criticism. Mourinho has even gone to the lengths of dismissing a return for Ronaldo to Old Trafford and has referred to Ronaldo Lima – the Brazilian striker – as the “Real” one.