Dutch legend Wesley Sneijder has opened up on how Jose Mourinho’s unique man-management style helped bring the best out of the Inter Milan side a decade ago.
Mourinho’s time at Inter was arguably the most successful of his career so far after he guided the Nerrazuri to a league title in his first season at the club and won a historic treble in his second season at the San Siro.
Plenty has been said about the special relationship that the 57-year-old had with the players he managed at the Serie A giants and Sneijder has now revealed some eye-catching details.
Far from being the disciplinarian that his reputation would have us believe, Sneijder revealed that ‘the special one’ gave the players a lot more freedom to enjoy themselves as long they produced on match days.
The midfielder told The Mirror: “Mourinho made his own laws – and the players loved it.
“He knew how to handle us so well. He said, ‘I give you guys more freedom than you are used to and, in return, I get a better team’.
“During games he demanded everything from us. But away from the pitch he gave us a lot of space. Drinking wine, fags… I am sure he knew that we were doing this stuff.
“We were even free in our choice of what to wear.
“We had a sponsor for all our suits, but Mourinho said we did not have to wear the suits if we didn’t want to.
“He said, ‘You are football players, not fashion puppets’. Only three things were important: train hard, keep focus and have fun.
“So we all wore our tracksuits or jeans. Everyone was wearing different coloured polo shirts.
“It was so funny – but no one at Inter had the guts to tackle Mourinho about this.”
However, Sneijder did admit that the Portuguese coach was not someone the players could mess with and narrated a funny incident about how Mario Balotelli regretted questioning Mourinho’s authority.
Sneijder added: “Mourinho protected us always – but you don’t mess him about
“Mario Balotelli tried it. He was young and thought he knew it all. And when Mourinho was not using him a lot, Mario walked in my hotel room one night when I was with a few other players.
“It was 10.30pm and he said, ‘I am leaving the camp, the manager is not taking me seriously. I want more playing time’.
“Mourinho later told us Mario was only welcome back again if he apologised to the entire squad and to him, the manager.
“Mario did exactly that and they came back with their arms around each other’s shoulders. It was all good again – at least that’s what Balotelli thought.
“During the Champions League Final, Mourinho told Balotelli to do a warm-up for 45 minutes, then let Marco Materazzi warm up for five minutes. Materazzi came on, Balotelli didn’t. Mourinho has his own laws.
“He did the most unexpected things. Maicon got a red card and was suspended for two games. Mourinho pulled him over the next day in training, called him a silly boy and then told him to go to see his family in Brazil.”
Spurs Web Opinion
When the team is winning, Mourinho’s behaviour is seen as charming and his unique methods are hailed as a genius. However, when results are not going his way, those are the times when Mourinho’s eccentric behaviour gets questioned. So his unique man-management style is very much a double-edged sword.
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