Its a bit late now. But when I came across this, I wanted to share this. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography gives us an amazing insight into current Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s ability to coach a football team. He may be termed as the “arrogant one” by opposition fans but the “happy one” is a class apart when it comes to handling a team and turning them into match winners.
Here is an extract from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography.
“He didn’t just talk the talk, though. When he came to Chelsea, it hadn’t won a Premier League title in 50 years. With Mourinho, they won two seasons in a row. Now he was headed our way and I was expecting harsh commands from the start. Already during the European Championships I was told that Mourinho was going to phone me, and I thought: “Has something happened?” He just wanted to chat. To say, “It’ll be nice to work together, looking forward to meeting you”; nothing remarkable, not then, but he was speaking in Italian. Mourinho had never coached an Italian club. But he spoke the language better than me.
He’d learnt the language in no time at all – in three weeks, people said – and I couldn’t keep up. We switched to English, and already then I could sense it: this guy cares. The questions he asks are different, somehow, and after the match against Spain I got a text. I get a ton of texts all the time. But this one was from Mourinho. “Well played,” he wrote, and then gave me some advice, and I promise you, I stopped in my tracks. I’d never had that before. A text message from the coach! I mean, I’d been playing with the Swedish squad, which was nothing to do with him. Still, he got involved, and I replied and got more messages. It was like, “Wow! Mourinho’s checking me out!” I felt appreciated. Maybe that guy wasn’t so tough and harsh after all.
I understood he was sending those texts for a reason. It was like a pep talk. He wanted my loyalty. I liked him straight away. We clicked. We understood each other, and I realised right away: this guy works hard. He works twice as hard as all the rest. Lives and breathes football 24/7 and does his analyses. I’ve never met a manager with that kind of knowledge about the opposing sides. It’s not just the usual stuff – look, they play like this or like that, they’ve got this or that tactic, you’ve got to look out for him. It was everything, every little detail, right down to the third-choice goalkeeper’s shoe size. It was everything. We all sensed it immediately: this guy knows his stuff.
It was a while before I met him. This was during the European Championships and then the summer closed season, and I don’t really know what I was expecting. I’d seen loads of photos of him. He’s elegant, he’s confident, but, well, I was surprised. He was a short man and he looked small next to the players.
I sensed it immediately: there was this vibe around him. He got people to toe the line and he went up to guys who thought they were untouchable and let them have it. He stood there, only coming up to their shoulder, and didn’t try to suck up to them, not for a second. He got straight to the point, and he was absolutely cold: From now on, you do it like this and like this. Can you imagine? And everybody started to listen. They strained to take in every shade of meaning in what he was saying. Not that they were frightened of him. He was no Capello, like I said. He created personal ties with the players with his text messages and his e-mails and his involvement and his knowledge of all our situations with wives and children, and he didn’t shout. People listened anyway, and everybody realised early on: this guy does his homework.
He worked hard to get us ready. He built us up before matches. It was like theatre, a psychological game. He might show videos where we’d played badly and say: “Look at this. So miserable! Hopeless! Those guys can’t even be you. They must be your brothers, your inferior selves.” And we nodded, we agreed.
“I don’t want to see you like that today,” he would continue. No way, we thought, no chance. “Go out there like hungry lions, like warriors,” he added. “In the first battle you’ll be like this –” He pounded his fist against his open hand. “And in the second battle –” He gave the flip-chart a kick and sent it flying across the room. The adrenalin pumped inside us and we went out like rabid animals. There were things like that all the time, unexpected things that got us going, and I felt increasingly that this guy gives everything for the team, so I want to give everything for him.
It wasn’t all just pep talks, though. That guy could take you down with a few words. He’d come into the changing room and say in an icy-cold voice: “You’ve done zero today, Zlatan, zero. You haven’t achieved a damn thing.”
I didn’t defend myself, not because I was a coward or had excessive respect for him, but because I knew he was right. It didn’t mean s*** to Mourinho what you’d done yesterday or the day before. Today was what counted. It was right now: “Go out and play football.”
I remember one match against Atalanta. The following day I was supposed to receive the award for Best Foreign Player and the Best Player Overall in Serie A, but we were down 2-0 at half-time and I’d been pretty invisible, and Mourinho came up to me in the changing room. “You’re gonna get an award tomorrow, eh?” “Huh? Yeah.” “Do you know what you’re going to do when you get that award?” “Er, what?” “You’re going to be ashamed. You’re going to blush. You’re going to know that you haven’t won s***. People can’t get awards when they play so terribly. You’re going to give that award to your mum, or somebody who deserves it more,” he said, and I thought: “I’ll show him, he’ll see I deserve that honour.”
He pumped me up and cut me down. He was a master at manipulating the team. There was just one thing that really bothered me: his facial expression when we played. No matter what I did, or what goals I scored, he looked just as ice-cold. There was never any hint of a smile, no gestures, nothing at all. It was as if nothing had happened, sort of like there was a motionless game in midfield, and I was more awesome than ever then. I was doing totally amazing things, but Mourinho had a face like a wet weekend.
One time we were playing Bologna and, in the 24th minute, Adriano, the Brazilian, was dribbling along the left side and made it down towards the goal line.
He put in a cross, a hard shot that came too low to head and too high to catch on the volley, and I was crowded out in the penalty area. I took a step forward and back-heeled it. It looked like a karate kick, just bam! Straight into the net. It was absolutely insane. That was later voted Goal of the Year, and the spectators went nuts, people stood up and screamed and applauded, even Moratti in the VIP section. But Mourinho, what did he do? He stood there in his suit with his hands by his sides, completely stony-faced.
“What the hell is it with that man?”
I thought. If he doesn’t react to a thing like that, what does get him going?
I talked it over with Rui Faria. Rui is Portuguese as well. He’s the fitness coach and Mourinho’s right-hand man. The two of them have followed one another from club to club and know each other inside and out.
“Explain one thing to me,” I said to him. “I’ve scored goals this season that I don’t even know how they happened. I can’t believe Mourinho has seen anything like them.
And yet he just stands there like a statue.”
“Take it easy, fella,” said Rui. “That’s how he is. He doesn’t react like the rest of us.”
“Maybe not,” I thought. Even so… then I’m bloody well going to make sure I liven him up, even if I have to achieve a miracle. One way or another, I was going to make that man cheer.”
The words above said are purely taken from Zlatan’s autobiography.