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From Benfica to Spurs – Rating each of Jose Mourinho's managerial reigns

Jose Mourinho and Tottenham will welcome former side Manchester United to north London this evening as both sides prepare to return to action following the suspension of the Premier League season.

One of football’s greatest coaches of all-time will be looking to get one over his old employers, as he seeks to bring success to Spurs and add further silverware to a trophy cabinet that already boasts eight domestic league titles and two Champions Leagues.

Ahead of the Portuguese’s reunion with his former side, we’ve decided to look back at each chapter of the ‘Special Ones’ coaching career, and rate each of Mourinho’s managerial reigns so far…

Benfica

Having worked as a coach alongside the likes of Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal at clubs such as Porto and Barcelona, Mourinho would return to his native Portugal where he was handed a first senior role.

Stepping up from assistant manager to replace Jupp Heynckes, Mourinho’s tenure at Benfica ultimately proved brief.

Having initially disobeyed the Benfica hierarchy in the choosing of his assistant, Mourinho found himself in the firing line following a change of president at the Portuguese club.

Despite Mourinho’s impressive start in management, the newly-elected Manuel Vilarinho was keen to appoint ex-Benfica player Toni as his new coach. Mourinho used a 3-0 derby success over city rivals Sporting to ask for a contract extension as a test of loyalty, which when refused, saw Mourinho resign.

His reign lasted just nine league fixtures, Vilarinho later admitting that he had made a huge mistake in allowing the future Champions League winner to leave.

Rating: 3/10

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União de Leiria

Mourinho was next appointed as manager of União de Leira in 2001, where he soon had the traditional minnows punching well above their weight in Portugal’s top flight.

The young manager’s impact soon attracted attention, however, Mourinho having guided the club on an unbeaten run and towards the top of the division.

His reign at the club lasted just six months, as a Porto side languishing behind the high-flyers hand-picked the emerging coach mid-season to revive their fortunes.

Rating: 7/10

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Porto

The club where it all really began for Mourinho, establishing himself as a household name in European football following a trophy-laden spell with the Portuguese giants.

His initial first half-season saw him put together an impressive run of form, guiding the struggling side into the top three and securing qualification for the following season’s UEFA Cup.

Having added to a core of players including Ricardo Carvalho and Deco with signing such as Derlei, Maniche and Nuno Valente, Mourinho’s first full season delivered a treble of trophies, including winning the title with a then-record 86 points.

Former club União de Leira were defeated in the domestic cup final, before a memorable UEFA Cup run was rewarded with a thrilling victory over Celtic in the final in Seville.

The following season began with Portuguese Super Cup success before retaining their league title, finishing the season with a perfect home record as back-to-back championships were secured.

However, the best was still yet to come for Mourinho, who truly announced himself with a shock Champions League triumph. The iconic image of that season saw Mourinho wildly celebrating down the Old Trafford touchline, as Porto dramatically knocked out Manchester United on away goals in the last eight.

Now a familiar face in European football, the bright lights of the Premier League soon came calling.

Rating: 10/10

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Chelsea

Backed by Roman Abramovich’s billions, Chelsea wanted a star manager as they looked to establish themselves amongst England and Europe’s biggest sides following the Russian’s investment.

Announcing himself as the ‘Special One’ in his first press conference in 2004, Mourinho was rarely out of the headlines during a memorable spell in west London.

His lavish spending cerated a formidable squad at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea securing League Cup success and a first league title in 50 years with a then record points total during his first season in English football.

Back-to-back titles were secured the following year, though the club failed to progress past the semi-finals of the Champions League in any of Mourinho’s three seasons in charge.

The cracks began to show in the third season, as they so often have during his career, amid power struggles at the club despite a domestic cup double being achieved.

Mourinho endured a difficult relationship with Abramovich and sporting director Frank Arnesen at times, whilst he was also unhappy at the appointment of Avram Grant as Director of Football.

Just a month into his fourth season at the club, Chelsea parted company with the most successful manager in their history by mutual consent.

Rating: 9/10

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Inter Milan

Mourinho’s next venture saw him head to Serie A and Inter Milan, where he replaced Roberto Mancini at the Italian champions.

His first season delivered yet another league title, though the club’s failure to make an impression on the Champions League led many to question whether the Nerazzurri had improved under their new manager.

The following summer saw Mourinho revamp his playing squad, bringing in the likes of Genoa forward Diego Milito and bolstering his midfield with the signings of Thiago Motta and Wesley Sneijder.

Star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed for Barcelona in a mega-money swap deal involving Samuel Eto’o, though Mourinho’s summer activity soon paid dividends.

Fired by the goals of Milito and Eto’o, Inter enjoyed the greatest season in the club’s long and illustrious history, completing Italian football’s first-ever continental treble.

The Scudetto was secured after finishing two points clear of nearest challengers Roma, whilst the same side were also later defeated in the final of the Coppa Italia.

An elusive wait for European success was also ended, former clubs Chelsea and Barcelona memorably eliminated on route to the Champions League final, where victory over Bayern Munich sealed Inter’s first European Cup in 45 years.

Mourinho’s departure to Real Madrid was announced shortly after, leaving his loyal Inter players distraught.

Rating: 10/10

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Real Madrid

Arguably the biggest name in football management arriving at arguably the biggest club in world football seemed a match made in heaven.

However, Mourinho’s extroverted personality in the often volatile environment of the Bernabeu made for predictable clashes of characters.

Tasked with halting Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona side was a formidable proposition, though one that Mourinho relished in what soon became a fascinating managerial rivalry.

His first season saw him struggle to contain the Catalan side, thrashed 5-0 in the Camp Nou and eliminated by their arch-rivals in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Revenge came in the form of Copa del Rey final success, though Mourinho needed to elevate his side to new levels the following year.

That following season saw Mourinho guide Real to one of the greatest La Liga campaigns in history, finishing with 100 points and setting several records including the most goals scored (121), most wins (32) and biggest ever goal difference (+89).

However, it soon began to unravel in the Spanish capital amid a series of fall-outs, notably with players such as Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas, Pepe and star forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mourinho also endured a difficult relationship with the press, whilst a controversial incident in which he poked then Barcelona assistant Tito Villanova in the eye further enhanced his reputation as a pantomime villain.

Just a year after that record-breaking season, Mourinho left the club by mutual consent.

Rating: 8/10

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Chelsea

Following the madness of a turbulent but successful spell in Madrid, Mourinho returned for a second spell at Chelsea, a hugely popular appointment given his first trophy-laden reign.

After guiding the club to a third-placed finish in his first season, Mourinho once again invested and his summer signings proved key to his side once again reclaiming the crown as England’s finest side.

Summer additions Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and returning loanee Thibaut Courtois all played influential roles as Chelsea claimed the Premier League title in 2014/15, Mourinho’s third in English football and a campaign which saw him named as Manager of the Season.

The success failed to last, however, a dismal start to the following season saw Chelsea lose nine of their opening 16 games and Mourinho once again left by mutual consent.

Rating: 7/10

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Manchester United

A job in which the Portuguese boss had long been linked, with Mourinho having previously fluttered his eyelashes in the direction of the Manchester United hierarchy to become the club’s new manager.

He finally got his wish in the summer of 2016, spending lavishly on the likes of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the club ushered in a new era following a series of below-par performances since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

Whilst a sixth-placed finish in the league proved disappointing, victories in the League Cup and Europa League brought a feel-good factor back to the club, the latter ensuring United’s return to the Champions League.

Mourinho guided the club to a runners-up position the following year, an achievement he described as one of the ‘best jobs’ of his career, even though they were still a distant second to Manchester City.

However, in-fighting and fall-outs saw his reign come to an end. The likes of Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw were amongst the high-profile stars to fall victim of Mourinho’s sharp-tongue as a bad atmosphere surrounded the club, Mourinho eventually being dismissed in December 2018 after a poor start to the season.

Rating: 6/10

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Tottenham

After a brief period away from the game, Mourinho made his return to management in surprise circumstances, being named as the successor to Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.

The move is yet to truly pay dividends despite the club rising from their 14th-placed position upon the Portuguese’s appointment in late November, though the north London side still face an uphill task to secure a top four finish and Champions League qualification this season.

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Mourinho’s prospects have been hindered by serious injuries to leading scorers Harry Kane and Son -Heung Min, but with both players having now returned to full fitness he will be expected to show signs of progress over the remainder of the campaign.

Spurs have also kept just two clean sheets since Mourinho’s arrival as manager, a statistic that must improve if the ‘Special One’ is to fulfil his ambitions of becoming the first manager in history to win major silverware with three English clubs.

Rating: 5/10

Read – The best games between Man Utd and Spurs in the Premier League era

See also – Picking the best XI ever from players Jose Mourinho has managed