Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Jose Mourinho and Newcastle: The Geordie One?

Posted on 22 October 2021 by Sam Billinghurst-Brown

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As anticipated, in the wake of the Newcastle United takeover, on Wednesday Steve Bruce followed Mike Ashley’s departure. Despite his recent quotes to the contrary one man who will have an eye on this takeover is the ‘little magpie’ Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho’s Newcastle connection

Mourinho has expressed his love for Newcastle United on multiple occasions following his well-known affinity with the late Sir Bobby Robson. In an interview last year with Sky Sports, looking ahead to Tottenham’s home clash with Newcastle, he said:

“It’s a club I feel connection with because of Mr Robson, it’s as simple as that. He had a huge passion for Newcastle and his area, Durham. He had it in his heart. So, through him I have become a little magpie.”

Last weekend Mourinho played down the prospect of joining Newcastle, but this did not stop him from reiterating his emotional connection towards Newcastle United. Before Roma’s meeting with Juventus Mourinho was asked about the vacancy.

“The only thing I can say is that for many many years, I worked with one of the most important figures in the history of Newcastle, Sir Bobby Robson, and so because of that I have always had a bit of an emotional connection with that city and the fanbase, but it’s nothing more than that.”

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Mourinho emphasised his commitment to Roma:

“I am here, I am really happy to be here. I am 100% focused on the Roma project, the Friedkin project.”

As recently as yesterday Mourinho restated to Sky Italy that he would not depart Roma for Newcastle:

‘Newcastle job? I’ve decided to stay. I’m not leaving. I signed a three year project with Roma and I’m not going to leave my players.’

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Anyone who knows about magpies knows that they don’t tend to migrate and there is no surprise that this ‘little Magpie’ isn’t setting his sights on relocating to Tyneside, at least not yet as he would be inheriting a Newcastle side that sits 19th in the Premier League and are yet to secure their first win.

The Portuguese manager isn’t short of experience when it comes to a momentous takeover; he made his first move to the Premier League in 2004, only one year after Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club. Jose arrived at the West London club as a showbiz manager, famously labelling himself the ‘Special One’.

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Since this iconic moment, Mourinho has gone on to win major honours in England, Italy and Spain. However, a second stint in England was met with mixed success and failure to win a trophy at Tottenham, the first time in his career.

Is Mourinho too negative for Newcastle?

Despite Jose’s marketability, his fondness for Sir Bobby Robson and the poetic prospect of the crowning of his achievements in the Premier League, for many there still remains the question of whether Mourinho’s risk averse footballing philosophy can still succeed in England.

The Roma boss is widely perceived as a defensive coach and pragmatic in his tactics which arguably fits Italy’s Serie A, but there are those who see Mourinho as yesterday’s man when it comes to the Premier League.

This perception of Mourinho as a ‘has been’ gradually emerged after he lost his job at Chelsea for the second time in 2015, this escalated when he was relieved from his managerial duties at Manchester United. His ‘failure’ at Tottenham only added fuel to his critic’s fire despite Jose reinventing himself as the humble one.

Mourinho isn’t shy of reminding his critics of his achievements. In his unveiling as the new Roma manager this year he was asked about his critics who don’t believe him to be a top coach. He responded: ‘The last three clubs I have worked for, I won a league title with Chelsea, three trophies with Manchester United, and reached a final that I could not manage in with Tottenham. What is a disaster for me, others have never done in their life. It’s my fault’.

The Newcastle United takeover has possibly opened the door for one last return to the Premier League, not as the special one, nor the humble one, but perhaps the ‘Geordie one’? Despite remaining focused on Roma, it would be naive to presume that the Roma manager would rebuff a return ticket to the Premier League, particularly with the astronomical financial backing he would be operating with.

Mourinho’s experience matches Newcastle’s ambitions

Looking towards Newcastle’s stance about their future and direction they intend to take, Mourinho appears to be more than an adequate fit. New director of Newcastle United Amanda Staveley vocalised her ambitions for the Tyneside club in an interview with Sky Sports: ‘Newcastle United deserves to be top of the Premier League, we want to get there. It will take time but we will get there.’

Staveley went on to express her desire for silverware: ‘We want to see it get those trophies, obviously at the top of the Premier League, in Europe, but to get trophies means patience, investment, time’.

‘We’re going to do a review right through the football operations, of the commercial side as well, and come back and make some decisions’.

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One manager who does have the know-how of winning trophies and fits the marketable aspect that Staveley is looking for is the special, yet humble one.

Mourinho has always been perceived as a figure for the red carpet and this box office perception of him has exploded over the past year through the All or Nothing Tottenham Hotspur documentary by Amazon Prime, where Mourinho often took centre stage.

Of course, there is the affection for Sir Bobby Robson. In an Instagram post featuring a video of the Sir Bobby Robson sculpture at St. James Park, which he captioned ‘Finally Boss’ with a half-smile emoji, referring to Mourinho’s first league win on Tyneside back in 2020.

Beyond doubt Mourinho will be on Newcastle long-term managerial short list and despite his current protestations once Newcastle get through this transitional period and should the ‘Roma project’ hit a standstill we might not be surprised to see Jose return to England on a north-easterly flightpath.

Because, even little magpies are attracted by the glint of gold.

 

 

 

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