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Sports

Jose Mourinho: the three seasonal one

media Jose Mourinho steered Manchester United to their worst start in the English top flight for 28 years. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Jose Mourinho's boom-bust cycle has operated with an impressive temporal consistency since his arrival in England from Porto in the summer of 2004.

'The Special One's' travels

The rakish 41-year-old styled himself 'the Special One' upon his investiture at Stamford Bridge and promptly justified the sobriquet by steering Chelsea to their first top flight title in 50 years. En route he collected the League Cup.

The 2006 Premier League title followed and at the end of the third season there was an FA Cup and League Cup double. Just as hegemony beckoned, there were flare-ups, strops and he was gone. Chelsea's most successful manager had imploded.

Inter Milan was the next stop on the odyssey. He announced his wonderfulness with the 2008 Supercup win over Roma. The match finished 2-2 after extra-time and Inter claimed it on penalties. It remains the only occasion on which Mourinho has won a trophy on a penalty shoot-out.

The following summer Inter collected the Serie A title thanks in large part to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 25 goals for the San Siro outfit. On the Swede's departure to Barcelona, Samuel Eto'o went the other way. Diego Milito - a 24 goal revelation at Genoa - was also drafted in and Inter swept to an unprecedented treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League.

It seemed logical that Real Madrid would call. And when they did, Mourinho answered. In Spain his spats with Barcelona's Pep Guardiola became part of folklore. But Mourinho did end the Catalans' stranglehold on the title after three consecutive La Liga crowns.

He won Madrid the 2012 title and then took them to a Spanish Supercup victory  over Barcelona. Yet the success came at the price of friction with star players in the dressing room.

"The club and manager agree the timing is right to bring our relationship to an end," said Madrid president Florentino Perez at the time. "On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank Jose for all his hard work."

His departure in May 2013 came after three years. But he was soon in work. His reappearance in west London seemed to crystallise all the augurs for redemption. There was unfinished business in the Premier League.

By May 2015 Chelsea were Premier League champions after collecting the League Cup en route to their crown. However on 17 December 2015, he was sacked: players in revolt and poor results accounted for him.

'The Special One' at Old Trafford

Yet there was enough credit in the bank and appreciation of his track record for Mourinho to be the logical choice to succeed Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford in the summer of 2016..

Less than three years on and after more than 300 million euros spent on a string of star singings including France midfielder Paul Pogba, that decision appears flawed. Mourinho flounders as a yesterday's man overtaken by progressives such as Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp, the ever evolving Guardiola and the savvy of Unai Emery at Arsenal.

That troika are all younger than the 55-year-old Portuguese. But even Chelsea's 59-year-old boss Maurizio Sarri seems to be allying points to free flowing style.

Former United skipper Gary Neville said the club should target the Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino as a replacement.

Now a football pundit on Sky TV, he added: "This is not just a moment to sack Jose Mourinho and appoint another manager. This is a moment for the club to take stock of what they're doing, to reset the structure in terms of recruitment, in terms of the decision-making in the football club and make sure what they do next is the right move."

Neville, who won 20 trophies during his 19 years at United, added: "It's about making sure the next manager is the right manager. The reality of that is that they're going to have to put the right football structure in around him."

Something to last then, unlike Mourinho, more than three seasons.

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