1. THE ONLY STAR IS THE TEAM: ‘My greatest worry is the team. The collective effort. I have no idea where the physical aspect ends and the tactical/psychological aspect begins, but football encaptures both. I can’t separate the two, but what I can say is that football is not all about the physical aspect, it’s about much more than that. In the grand scheme of things, the physical aspect is probably the least important element. Without organization and a talent in exploring the different tactical models of the game, your weaknesses quickly become apparent, regardless of how fit you are’.
2. TACTICS ARE WORKED ON FROM DAY ONE: ‘The most important thing in football is to have a style of play, a set of principles that offer organization to the team. For that reason, my focus is on tactics from day one’. Exactly what is required at Real Madrid.
3. THE RUI FARIA METHOD (No circuits, no gyms, no laps around the pitch): ‘Have you ever seen a pianist run around his piano before sitting down to unleash a masterpiece? In our methodology we don’t send them on laps around the pitch either’. For Mourinho and his right-hand man/physical trainer Rui Faria, the gym is only for recovering from injuries.
4. THE BALL IS OBLIGATORY. TRAINING SESSIONS OF NO MORE THAN 90 MINUTES: ‘My training sessions aren’t long, they’re dynamic and incredibly time-efficient. I like my team to learn to love the ball, and to know what to do with it once they win it back. Three hour training sessions will only serve to bore the players. They would quickly fall out of love with the ball’.
5. A TEAM WITHOUT PEAKS IN FORM: ‘Weekly training sessions are solely focused on the next game. There’s no plan to come good in December or May, no looking ahead. No plan to play better against the top teams’.
6. MOTIVATION COMES FROM TRAINING, NOT FROM THE BIG MATCHES: During his time in Portugal with Porto, there came a moment when the team were winning everything domestically, with the danger of the players only being motivated for the European ties. Here’s how he overcame that potential obstacle. ‘With a 4-3-3 formation, space is perfectly occupied naturally, it isn’t necessary for the players to be intelligent. They don’t have to think too much. With a 4-4-2 they are required to think because the field is occupied irrationally, no-one is naturally open. With a constant need for tactical discipline comes motivation, regardless of the importance of the match.’ Real Madrid fans know what to expect there then.
7. THOROUGH STUDY OF THE OP-POSITION. BUT NEVER TO PLAY ACCORDING TO YOUR RIVAL: ‘ We analyze our rivals and we try to imagine how they will play against us. Using these thoughts we position certain players in certain positions according to the oppositions strengths and weaknesses. But these are only positional details. They don’t interfere with our principles, or even with our system’.
8. THE CREATIVE PLAYERS ARE THE FIRST TO DEFEND: ‘For me defending well is defending during the least amount of time possible. It’s to have the ball among your most creative players for as long as possible. Having the initiative for as long as possible. This takes away the need for defensive actions. But when the need to defend arises, everyone has a role to play. There are those that say the creative players should be liberated of defensive duties. They know nothing about football. All players need to know what to do with the ball and what to do without the ball’. Cristiano Ronaldo, you’ve been warned.
9. WE BEGIN TO RECOVER DURING THE GAMES: ‘After each game I like to give the players a days rest. It may not be the most appropriate thing to do physically speaking, but it allows them to recover mentally. Unfortunately, with so many games during a season this is rarely possible. Therefore as incredible as it sounds, they need to start recovering during the game itself. If the team plays how I want them to, the players will start to recover mentally by having total control of the ball. Instead of finishing the match mentally exhausted, they would come off the pitch in a great frame of mind, raring to go once more’.
10. ONE METHOD FITS ALL – FROM THE FIRST TEAM TO THE YOUTH TEAM: ‘The basic methodological concepts must be instilled in both the elite and the base. At Porto I regularly met with the youth and reserve team directors to explain exactly how all the different teams should play. That way no player gets lost when making the step up. Everything is already trained into his mind’.