Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho entering third season - what does that mean?
Jose Mourinho is entering his third season at Manchester United -- and given his history at other clubs that could mean the end for him.
The self-proclaimed "Special One" has cut a gloomy demeanour throughout preseason with a different gripe following every match and in all of his news conferences at the ICC in the United States. Mourinho's antics have divided fans at Old Trafford with many unsure how far he can lead the team.
There is a perception that, throughout his career, his third season at the same club ends in turmoil. Though there was also a notion that his second is his most successful, but last term he won nothing. So is it really true that his third year at a club ends badly? Let's take a look.
Mourinho came to the attention of world football for his success with unfancied Porto. He took over the club in January 2002, guiding them to a third-place finish. However, in his first full campaign -- or his second season, depending on your point of view -- he led the Dragons to a league, cup and UEFA Cup treble.
In the following campaign, he went one better and won the Champions League, with a 3-0 victory over Monaco in arguably the most unlikely victory in the competition's history before leaving on a high that summer.
Mourinho joined Chelsea -- immediately announcing himself as a "Special One" -- and ended the club's 50-year wait for a league title by winning the Premier League in record-breaking fashion. The 95 points accumulated was then a record, as were the 29 matches won, while their 15 goals conceded that season remains a record low.
Chelsea also added the League Cup following victory over Liverpool, meaning Mourinho had won seven trophies over the past three years.
His second season saw the Blues retain their Premier League title with little drama -- they finished 18 points clear of second-place United. They also reached the FA Cup semifinals, but were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16.
In his third season, Chelsea surrendered their hold on the Premier League, finishing six points adrift off a resurgent United. They beat the Red Devils in the FA Cup final, thereby completing Mourinho's set of major trophies in England (having earlier won a second League Cup), and also reached the Champions League semifinals.
But Mourinho was sacked in September 2007 -- a month into his fourth season at Stamford Bridge. The first rumblings of discontent were felt midway through the previous campaign and it would be a pattern that would continue.
Inter Milan: 2008-10
In the summer of 2008, he became Inter Milan manager and immediately won Serie A -- the club's fourth Scudetto in a row.
What followed was his greatest single season to date. Mourinho led Inter to the Treble. They became the first Italian side to achieve this feat and were European champions for the first time in 45 years. He left as a hero, waving a tearful goodbye after lifting the trophy.
Real Madrid: 2010-13
Mourinho moved to Real Madrid that summer of 2010, winning the Copa del Rey, but they were beaten to the title by a Barcelona sided lauded by many as the greatest club team of all. A year on and he led Los Blancos to the title, accumulating 100 points in the process -- a statistic Mourinho may have mentioned once or twice.
However, the 2012-13 campaign was a disaster. Mourinho conceded the title to Barcelona -- then managed by Tito Vilanova -- before Christmas and they even lost the Copa del Rey final to Atletico Madrid, the Rojiblancos' first Madrid derby win in 14 years.
Following a third successive Champions League semifinal defeat, Mourinho announced he was leaving Madrid as they finished 15 points behind champions Barcelona. At the end of his third season, he returned to Chelsea that summer.
His first season saw Chelsea improve on the previous campaign as they genuinely challenged for the title. But they finished third -- the same as in the previous season -- and Mourinho endured a fourth successive Champions League semifinal loss.
Yet for the third time in a row, his second campaign at a club proved to be his best. He addressed Chelsea's shortcomings and led them to a Premier League and League Cup double -- just as he had 10 years earlier.
Of course no one could have foreseen just how spectacularly things would go wrong in the following campaign.
Four wins and an astonishing nine defeats in the first 16 games saw him sacked before Christmas with Chelsea stuck in a relegation battle. No wins in preseason had been followed by a Community Shield loss and the first match of the season lit the blue touchpaper for a tumultuous campaign.
Chelsea blew a 2-0 lead at home to Swansea, while goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off, but neither were the main storyline. Mourinho would later have to appear in court following the unfair dismissal of doctor Eva Carneiro, who he publicly criticised for attempting to help Eden Hazard, who was down injured.
Manchester United: 2016-present
That summer, Mourinho joined United and enjoyed mixed success. An uninspiring Europa League run saw them at least end the campaign with a European trophy; while they also enjoyed League Cup success after a thrilling win over Southampton at Wembley. However, United finished in sixth place -- only qualifying for the Champions League through their success in the Europa League.
This time last summer, the talk was of Mourinho's successful second seasons and a potential title challenge in the making. But they proved a false dawn.
Despite finishing a post-Sir Alex Ferguson high of a second-place, United finished 19 points behind leaders Manchester City -- only three points fewer than the gap between champions City and David Moyes' seventh-place United in 2013-14. They were knocked out of Europe in the Champions League round of 16 by Sevilla and also reached the FA Cup final before insipidly losing to Chelsea at Wembley.
So as he enters his third season at United, looking back over Mourinho's career there is a clear contrast between pre and post Real Madrid. Generally, since his time in Spain, the second seasons have been successful before "third-season syndrome" brings about an implosion. (Although, it is important to point out that there have only been two instances of this.)
Mourinho's gloomy outlook, coupled with United's poor preseason results and the atmosphere around the squad have led many fans to believe that this season could follow suit.
Given there was no massive second-season improvement, does that mean there won't be the dramatic collapse that follows this time? United fans will certainly be hoping so. Right now, though, they'd probably just settle for a smile from the "Special One."