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Jose Mourinho and his League Cup love affair

Sunday 29th January 2017
The first trophy that Jose Mourinho won during his two stints at Chelsea was the League Cup. Now in Manchester, he has led United to another EFL final.
Saturday 27th February 2005. A managerial master was born and a dominant era of blue initiated. Chelsea, under the guidance of a flagrant Portuguese tactician, enjoying the blessings of a rather wealthy Russian, were building momentum as they looked to challenge the superiority of Arsenal and Manchester United throughout the early 2000 years. The day brought a pulsating encounter and a victorious Chelsea team. It was the first trophy for a club that has since gorged on them.

Jose Mourinho, having miraculously won the Champions League with Porto the year before, was heralded as the next footballing mind. Relentless, highly-strung and arrogant, Mourinho was loved dearly by few and hated ferociously by many. Nonetheless, although the blot of short-term tenures on his resume persists, the success that he has enjoyed at almost every club he's ever found himself at is impressive, deserving of praise.

In his two terms at Chelsea, Mourinho was a serial winner. He was the first manager to successfully defend his league title since the second world war, winning three across both tenures in total, lifted the FA Cup in 2007 and if not for a falling out with Roman Abramovic, could well have led the club to yet further success.

It is certainly a glittering reputation that is backed up by results. However, of all the great success that he has enjoyed, especially here in England, it is perhaps the lesser adored trophy that Mourinho has the greatest love affair with. The League Cup - now known as the EFL Cup as the Football League desperately try to generate some interest with yet more ambitious branding changes - is the ugly sister, the one who is shunned by the dashing, darling hunk for the older, leggy blonde. It is rarely celebrated when won, it must suffer the consequences of weakened teams and dropped stars and is thought more of as a nuisance, an annoyance, rather than an ambition or aspiration.

Mourinho, though, is far savvier than many of his adversaries. While he is similarly disenchanted with winning the League Cup itself, he is aware of the culture of winning. The old adage; winning breeds winning rings true throughout history. Sir Alex Ferguson had mastered the difficulty of continuity, able to inspire greatness in lesser players thanks to the atmosphere and the attitude of the club. Arsene Wenger, early in his North London reign, had similar success but has since struggled to replicate it in recent years.

Mourinho is another who understands the importance of winning, no matter the competition. While at Chelsea, he won the League Cup three times in total. Most significantly, though, his first trophy during both tenures was the League Cup, preceding the first league title by three months either time. It is significant, then, to see Manchester United in the EFL Final after squeezing past Hull City on Thursday night.

It was far from a convincing performance. In fact, it was the relegation-destined Tigers that were the more deserving to progress. Nevertheless, win United did and now they will face Southampton 12 years and a day less after Mourinho's first English trophy, searching for the spark that winning brings.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!


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