By now, it is obvious that Jose Mourinho is extremely important for football. What is not so obvious is how much Mourinho is essential for attacking football.
Why is Mourinho, a manager synonymous with defensive and depressing football, good for attacking, free flowing football? It’s evolution, baby.
Predator and prey evolve together. The prey is part of the predator’s environment, and the predator dies if it does not get food, so it evolves whatever is necessary in order to eat the prey: speed, stealth, camouflage (to hide while approaching the prey), a good sense of smell, sight, hearing (to find the prey), immunity to the prey’s poison, poison (to kill the prey),the right kind of mouth parts or digestive system, etc.
Likewise, the predator is part of the prey’s environment, and the prey dies if it is eaten by the predator, so it evolves whatever is necessary to avoid being eaten.
The fastest lions are able to catch food and eat, so they survive and reproduce, and gradually, faster lions make up more and more of the population. The fastest zebras are able to escape the lions, so they survive and reproduce, and gradually, faster zebras make up more and more of the population.
An important thing to realize is that as both organisms become faster in order to adapt to their environments, their relationship remains the same: because they are both getting faster, neither gets faster in relation to the other. This is true in all predator-prey relationships.
That’s the great Pendulum of life, and it’s the same with football. Without great defensive football, attacking football would grow stale. Great defensive football leads to great attacking football.
Purists often argue that Mourinho is ‘bad for football’ because, as Jorge Valdano once said, it looks like “shit hanging from a stick”.
However, without the evolution of Mourinho defensive systems, Barcelona wouldn’t have gotten so lethal; without the presentation of Mourinho’s tactics to the Premier League, Manchester United wouldn’t have been such a goal machine as it was with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in the 2007-2009 seasons. It could be argued that Wenger’s Arsenal didn’t really evolve and that’s why it suffers. It could be argued that teams such as Bolton and Sunderland now play better football because of Mourinho’s evolution.
So this dynamics attacking football finds answers to evolved defensive football and then defensive football finds answers to evolved attacking football are important to the long great story of football.