Jose Mourinho is aiming for unique heights that underscore the scale of his career and status’ decline


The Trapattoni heights were impossible in this century. In fact, the concept may have been devalued by Uefa for scrapping the Cup Winners’ Cup.

But it was something to have won both the European Cup and the UEFA Cup – at times almost stronger competition at the time – and the late Cup Winners’ Cup was something that represented something. And only two managers have had: the late Udo Lattek, who did so with three different clubs, and the aforementioned Giovanni Trapattoni, who won all three with Juventus and then added more UEFA Cups with Internazionale and Juve.

Now there could be another three-card trick: the Mourinho triple. And if that’s not quite as derogatory a term as the “Mourinho season”, Antonio Conte’s term for it ChelseaThe disastrous 2015/16 season, which saw the Portuguese side sacked in 16th place, is nonetheless a sign of how the mighty have fallen.

Roma could become the inaugural Europa Conference League winners, which is not to be scoffed at for a club whose only continental trophies are the Fairs Cup and Anglo-Italian Cup. But for Mourinho, a two-time Champions and Europa League winner, it would complete another clean win.

Uefa could drool at the idea that their much-mocked third competition, which many have either wanted to ignore or scoff at, could have a box-office winner in Mourinho. Perhaps his legacy will be to bring legitimacy to the Conference League.

And certainly a semi-final line-up of Roma and Leicester, Marseille and Feyenoord can give it credibility (although if it was designed to offer Eastern European clubs greater opportunities for continental titles, it may not have served its original purpose).

A semi-final against Leicester brings a reunion with Brendan Rodgers, champion and apprentice in their Chelsea days, and memories of the afternoon in 2014 when Mourinho derailed his former ally’s title attack, helped by Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip. However, the larger slide was probably his own.

He is the manager defined by the Champions League: twice winners, each in unlikely ways, with Porto becoming the only side outside the five richest leagues to conquer the continent in the 21st century and Inter winning the European Cup for the first time in 45 years, Semi-finalist eight times and managed 151 games in the competition.

He’s the manager who poked fun at Rafa Benitez on his return to Chelsea for winning the wrong kind of silverware. “I don’t want to win the Europa League,” he said in 2013, with the air of a man whose jibe could come from a superior position. “That would be a big disappointment for me. I don’t want my players to feel that the Europa League is our competition.”

Now there has been a change of course. A Champions League constant has become a Conference convert.

“I’ve said from the start that this is our competition, my competition,” he said, making a difference to Leicester, who are eliminated from the Europa League. He’s not responsible for Roma’s initial participation despite being fifth in Serie A, but with Fiorentina, Lazio and Atalanta on their coattails they could have a return ticket to those stages.

Perhaps winning the Conference League to claim a fifth European title would boost Mourinho’s reputation as a winner; Surely, a first trophy in five years might suggest his glory days aren’t limited to the past.

Such is the case for the artist formerly known as The Special One. “He had the X factor,” Rodgers said, and if using the past tense implied he no longer has it, he argued otherwise. “He will always be a winner,” he added. “He is one of the greats of our generation.”

And yet the last few years have brought new humiliations. That’s how it slurred in Europe’s third division. He lost against Bodo/Glimt. Twice. One of them finished 6-1. There are explorers who have had less painful trips to the Arctic Circle than Mourinho.

Still, he’s come this far. “I’ve been to a lot of semifinals,” said Mourinho, who rarely singles out his own record.

But each was in a more famous and prestigious competition. After all, his last season in Italy in 2010 brought Inter’s historic treble. Back then he was a manager who has been described as potentially the greatest of all time.

Now that his net worth has since plummeted, I guess he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t: The only thing worse than winning the conference league is not winning the conference league . Jose Mourinho is aiming for unique heights that underscore the scale of his career and status’ decline

Fry Electronics Team

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