Come at the king, you best not miss.
The king is Jose Mourinho. Whenever he inherits a squad he doesn’t waste any time putting his stamp on it.
But, putting the trophies he inevitably wins aside, does he improve squads he inherits or leave them barer than KFC’s chicken supply?
Porto (arrived 23 January 2002, left 2 June 2004)
The job that made the man. After valuable learnings alongside Bobby Robson, an indifferent spell at Benfica and revival at Uniao de Leiria Mourinho took over at Porto.
Porto were lagging in fifth in the league when Mourinho succeeded Octavio Machado, having already been eliminated from the cup.
However his squad already contained several players who would be key components of the UEFA Cup win in 2003.
Vitor Baia, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Costa, Dmitri Alenichev, Costinha, Deco and Capucho would all go on to start the final having been on the books when Mourinho arrived.
This wasn’t just luck though. Mourinho had the foresight to bring Costa back from a loan spell at Charlton and make him his captain.
Costa would then go on to captain the Champions League winning side alongside Baia, Carvalho, Costinha and Deco.
The squad was undoubtedly in better health when Mourinho left, with key players like Nuno Valente, Paulo Ferreira, Maniche and Jose Bosingwa all arriving under the Portuguese manager.
Chelsea (arrived 2 June 2004, left 20 September 2007)
Mourinho arrived on the King’s Road a year after Roman Abramovich, meaning he had carte blanche to sign who he pleased.
Chelsea already had a strong framework to build a squad upon in John Terry, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Claude Makelele.
But Mourinho wasted little time in building one of the best spines to grace English football thanks to the signings of Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho and Didier Drogba as well as a touch of flair in Arjen Robben.
When he left during the 2007/08 season Chelsea were still strong on paper, with Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole adding solidity on the flanks and Michael Essien and Nicolas Anelka providing depth in midfield and attack.
But it wasn’t all good.
Mourinho left behind a Chelsea squad containing Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro and Tal Ben Haim, while Andriy Shevchenko proved an expensive mistake up front.
Still, it was telling that all of the starting XI that won the Premier League title under Carlo Ancelotti three years after Mourinho’s exit were the latter’s signings.
Inter Milan (arrived 2 June 2008, left 28 May 2010)
Mourinho took over from Mancini in 2008, inheriting a squad dripping with European pedigree.
Julio Cesar, Javier Zanetti, Maicon, Marco Materazzi, Walter Samuel, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Luis Figo, Patrick Vieira, Esteban Cambiasso and Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant little work needed to be done in the transfer market.
The following summer Mourinho went big, signing Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Thiago Motta, Wesley Sneijder, Lucio and Goran Pandev who were bedded in immediately, winning the treble in their first season.
When he joined Real Madrid in 2010 Mourinho left behind a squad showcasing a blend of youthful exuberance and experience, although it can be argued that the spine was on the wrong side of the hill.
Real Madrid (arrived 28 May 2010, left 20 May 2013)
You’re never going to inherit a weak squad when you’re Real Madrid manager, but egos were bruised after a trophyless season under Manuel Pellegrini.
Carvalho followed his manager to Madrid, as he had done at Chelsea, while Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira were signed off the back of impressive showings at the 2010 World Cup, as was Angel Di Maria.
Given Mourinho could already call upon Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuain it wasn’t like there were many gaping cracks to paper over.
He left behind all of those players when he was shoved out in 2013, with the signings of Luka Modric and Raphael Varane giving him an arguably stronger squad than the one he started with.
Politics, rather than weak playing staff, did for him in the end.
Chelsea (arrived 3 June 2013, left 17 December 2015)
You shouldn’t ever go back to something you once loved, but Mourinho couldn’t resist a second stab at managing Chelsea.
Much of his previous lieutenants were still there, having won the Champions League months prior to Mourinho’s arrival.
A changing of the guard was needed, something Mourinho carried out with ruthless efficiency.
By the time he left for a second time in December 2015 Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, David Luiz, Juan Mata, Ryan Bertrand and Romelu Lukaku had all been sold.
But, of the players to come in under Mourinho, only Willian, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa had a positive impact at the club.
Man United (arrived 27 May 2016, left ?)
And so we catch up with the past.
Mourinho took over a squad that was devoid of personality after spells under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
He set about changing that by signing Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly in his first season, followed by Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic and Alexis Sanchez this campaign.
United’s squad has undoubtedly improved under Mourinho, with the 55-year-old actively improving players, see Jesse Lingard, as well as spending money on new recruits.
But the doubts over youngsters Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford’s futures highlight the substance over style approach Mourinho has taken.
If you asked United fans whether their club has improved under Mourinho you’d get a mixed response.
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