It’s common knowledge that Jose Mourinho is one of the biggest spending managers in world football.
His spells at Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United have brought about success, although all have been boasted by a near-bottomless pit of money to spend with relative freedom.
But Mourinho’s first great success came when he barely had two cents to rub together
We’re talking, of course, about his spell at FC Porto, when the Special One won his first Champions League trophy.
We have a lot of great memories of the 2003–04 Champions League campaign, but Mourinho bursting down the touchline at Old Trafford in the Round of 16 remains our favourite.
But perhaps what’s even more incredible is the pittance the Portuguese master spent in the summer prior to his breakout season.
A backbone of hidden gems
Mourinho arrived at Porto in January 2002, with the side down in fifth place in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
But the fallen giants quickly rejuvenated under the brilliance of the enigmatic coach and finished the season strongly in third place – picking up 11 wins out of a possible 15.
In his first full season in charge – and his first full campaign as a manager, no less – Mourinho duly took Porto to the league title with nearly a month to spare.
The title was won with an incredible backbone of talent such as Ricardo Carvalho, Paolo Ferreira, Deco and Costinha.
First taste of European success
Mourinho inherited an incredible squad of hidden gems at Porto, which only needed some minor fine-tuning.
Derlei and Nuno Valente had been brought in from his previous club Leira, Maniche joined as a free agent, Ferreira was signed for measly £1.8million and Jorge Costa returned from a loan spell at Charlton.
All played a major role in Mourinho’s first major European honour; the UEFA Cup.
Up against Martin O’Neil’s Celtic side, Porto won the 2003 final in Seville 3-2, with Derlei grabbing a brace.
The building blocks
The following summer, Mourinho strengthened his side in several key areas, thanks largely to the money they received from Tottenham for striker Helder Postiga.
Mourinho brought in a number of new faces, but perhaps the most notable were Benni McCarthy, Carlos Alberto and Jose Bosingwa.
In total, Mourinho spent just £9.45m on new signings.
To give that some context, Real Madrid spent well-over double that amount on David Beckham alone, while Man United (£50.9m on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kleberson, Tim Howard and more) and Chelsea (£150m) were among that summer’s biggest spenders.
While young Bosingwa’s importance to Porto came later, McCarthy and Alberto would each play big roles in Porto’s forthcoming campaign.
Signed for just £3m from Spanish side Celta Vigo, McCarthy won the Golden Boot and notably scored twice against Man United in the Round of 16.
Famously, when Alex Ferguson bemoaned Porto’s tactics in the aftermath of the defeat, Mourinho responded: “I understand why he is a bit emotional.
“You would be sad if your team gets as clearly dominated by opponents who have been built on 10% of the budget.”
The teenager from Brazil
Perhaps the biggest star of Mourinho’s final year at Porto was Carlos Alberto.
The young Brazilian joined the Portuguese side in January 2004 for a paltry sum of £2m from Fluminense, and quickly established himself in Mourinho’s first-team.
Virtually unknown in Europe upon his arrival, the teenager played a key role in the Champions League final against Monaco, hitting a delightful volley to give Porto the lead, becoming the third youngest scorer in the history of the competition.
Of course, the comparisons with Pele quickly came pouring in and the 19-year-old was drafted into the Brazil national team, although he quickly fell into obscurity, falling out of favour at Porto following Mourinho’s departure and joining Corinthians, ultimately failing to recapture his early promise at a host of different clubs.
Mourinho’s departure to Chelsea in the summer of 2004 saw wholesale changes made to the victorious Porto side.
Carvalho and Ferreira followed him to Chelsea, Deco went off to Barcelona and enjoyed further success, Derlei headed to Dynamo Moscow, Carlos Alberto went back to Brazil six months later and Dmitri Alenichev – the unsung hero of Porto’s brilliant two seasons under Mourinho – returned to Spartak Moscow.
With so much change, the club picked up just a single trophy the following season; the Intercontinental Cup.
But with so many players leaving the club, the likes of Ricardo Quaresma, Pepe, and Raul Meireles were brought in to become stars of the future.
Wonder whatever happened to that Mourinho fella after that?
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