Jose Mourinho: The Myspace football manager

Updated: 27/02/2024

Jose Mourinho is a bit like Myspace. You never could’ve expected to see such a sharp decline in popularity and fortune. You never could've really seen it coming to this, but here we are. 

In the early 2000s, Myspace was the best thing the internet had ever seen. Myspace was the social network. Before Facebook and Twitter and and Instagram and Snapchat and YouTube, it was Myspace. Everyone knew about it, everyone was on it or knew somebody who was on it, even if they did not use it themselves. 

Myspace was the present and the future. Life could no longer exist without Myspace. And nobody or nothing was ever going to wrest that power and dominance from Myspace. How could it? Such was its growth and success, media magnate Rupert Murdoch purchased Myspace from founders Chris DeWolfe, Tom Anderson and Jon Hart in 2005, for $580m.

A year later, more people were viewing Myspace every day than they were going on Google. Imagine. Between 2005 and 2008, Myspace was the biggest social network in the world. 

Special One

It was similar to when Mourinho first arrived in England, to take over at Chelsea following a shock treble at Porto. This, incidentally, the same time Murdoch was lining up his bid for Myspace. The Special One. The cheeky smile. The charm and charisma. The laughing and joking with journalists in press conferences and in front of TV cameras. 

Mourinho won Premier Leagues and the FA Cup and League Cups. Mourinho was challenging Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in English football, replacing Arsenal who for so long under Arsene Wenger had been the only rival, and was seen as a potential successor to Ferguson at Manchester United.

Mourinho was the present and the future. Top level football could no longer exist without Mourinho. And nobody or nothing was ever going to wrest that power and dominance from Mourinho. How could it?

Guardiola is Facebook (sort of)

But in 2004, Mark Zuckerburg was busily working away on Facebook. And Facebook was Myspace only 10 times better, and it did not have Murdoch trying to force ads down your computer screen every time you used it. Facebook was Pep Guardiola. Back when Facebook wasn’t harvesting all of our data and helping Russians to subvert Western democracy, obviously. Back when Facebook was clean and fun and on its way to taking over the world. 

By 2008, Facebook had overtaken Myspace’s unique daily viewers. This, incidentally, the same year that Guardiola was taking charge of Barcelona, in his first managerial job, and he just as quickly began to overtake Mourinho as the manager everybody wanted to manage their club and whose side they wanted to watch play. 

The implosion

Mourinho was at Inter Milan by now and still winning things, but just as Facebook overtook Myspace and Myspace imploded, the Portuguese has followed a similar trajectory, spiralling downward. By 2011, Murdoch sold Myspace for $35m to a joint bid from Specific Media Group and Justin Timberlake. You know something has gone badly wrong when you’re a media mogul selling what you believed to be the next big thing, to Justin Timberlake. 

At Real Madrid (incidentally, around the same time Murdoch was selling Myspace), Mourinho was gouging eyes of rival coaches, clashing with major stars (including Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas), rowing with journalists, complaining about referee bias.

At Chelsea in his first stint and Inter Milan — and even Porto where he made his name — Mourinho had tough, hard players: John Terry, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ricardo Carvalho, Marco Materazzi, Samuel Eto’o. But the game and its players have changed and Mourinho has refused to change with it. 

Sick of his approach

Back at Chelsea the second time the players grew sick of the constant criticism and Mourinho lost the plot when he blamed Eva Carneiro, the former Chelsea doctor, for rushing onto the field, with physio Jon Fearn, to treat Eden Hazard during the first game of the 2015-16 season. Mourinho lost it further when he kept up a tirade which eventually forced Carneiro out of the club. Mourinho did not last much longer, sacked in December leaving the club plummeting down the table, out of touch with rivals and in chaos.

Mourinho’s volatility and propensity to combustion was already making him a wary option for onlookers, but United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward saw out-of-work Mourinho as the answer he desperately sought to stopping their capitulation post-Ferguson. 

‘Screwed up everything'

Murdoch later admitted that News Corp “screwed up in every possible way” and “learned lots of valuable expensive lessons” after selling Myspace, which is a lot like where Mourinho and Manchester United are at the moment, really. 

United backed Mourinho to the tune of £350million and after making a string of signings he could not shape into a team capable of challenging in the Premier League, all it did was cause him to demand more and then complain when it was not forthcoming. Mourinho’s acerbic comments to players has worsened, particularly the younger generation, particularly left-back Luke Shaw and striker Marcus Rashford. 

Mourinho has left United in the same haggard state he left Chelsea and United will reflect that his two-and-a-half years and the environment he has created was not worth a Europa League, League Cup and Community Shield.

Mourinho’s anger and acidity and the creation of the them-against-us mentality, has been replaced by public good guys like Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, who know how to coax the best out of players, rather than pummel them into the ground in some misguided attempt to toughen them up.

Now even Klopp at Liverpool has overtaken Mourinho, too. So that probably makes Klopp Snapchat (Twitter is too full of hatred and anger to be Klopp). Are you still with me? 

More on Jose Mourinho:

Mourinho sacked by Man Utd

Man Utd's 11 signings under Mourinho – ranked from worst to best

5 contenders to replace Mourinho at Man Utd

Do Man Utd need a director of football?

Mourinho was a distraction from Glazers' shortcomings

It's no fun being fired just before Christmas

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