Image: Flickr/Ronnie MacDonald

Why José Mourinho and Charles de Gaulle are one and the same

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When Jose Mourinho emerged onto the world scene, fists aloft, darting down the Old Trafford touchline, he had already begun to garner his fair share of haters. Egotistical, charismatic and dogmatic; few in history could argue they share the confidence of a man who, on his first day in the job as Chelsea manager, proclaimed himself as the ‘Special One’ before a ball was even kicked. Then again, Charles de Gaulle is not most people.

Although not immediately obvious bedfellows, the historic leader of France’s Fifth Republic is the French equivalent of the Portuguese manager. Substitute De Gaulle for Mourinho in the opening paragraph, and very few people would deem the description ill-fitting for the self-dubbed General. Myth-makers, dogmatists and pragmatists, and enigmas with rhetorics you can’t help but admire. Both Mourinho and de Gaulle are so intertwined they could be seen as one entity, with carbon copy characteristics which imply that seemingly simply and successful management is philosophical at its core. Both adhere to the laws of the theory of success.

They are pioneers and merchants of unity and cohesion 

For centuries, football revolutionaries have tinkered with football philosophies. Johan Cruyff will go down in history for Total Football, whilst Pep Guardiola will be engrained into football folklore for his unwavering insistence on utilising his tactical system of possession based football.

However, Jose Mourinho is just as dogmatic in that he pertains to a certain footballing philosophy: the philosophy of winning. Mourinho is the Byronic hero, the anti-Christ of what is roamtnically described as the “beautiful game”. Stifling creativity, and attacking verve when it matters most, in order to prioritise victory and trophies.  In 2009, he crafted his crowning moment for his anti-Christ appearance. With just 18% possession, he stifled the threat of Barcelona’s magical trio of Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi and Zalatan Ibrahmovic to qualify for the UEFA Champions League Final.

The General, whilst not managing a football team, was pragmatic in his approach to foreign policy and the internal politics of France. In the midst of economic recovery after the decolonisation of France’s Empire, de Gaulle put aside his hatred for Germany, and allowed them to join his European Economic Community in order to aid France’s industrial development. Both men did whatever necessary to craft their own legacy.

Both men did whatever necessary to craft their own legacy

Much of Mourinho’s success is derived from his fantastic man management ability. His charisma and intense attitude towards team culture often instils in his players an ‘Us versus Them’ mindset. There is a confidence, and an inherent belief, that his side will defy the odds, which is when the ’Special One’ thrives the most.

Mourinho throws his players under the bus. He will call them out in public, he will question their attitude. He creates internal strife. Many perceive it as the shifting of blame, but the former Real Madrid manager is craftily throwing down the gauntlet for his players. It’s a sink or swim moment, those who sink, are casted off. The rest? They’ve bought into the Mourinho mindset; that they will do whatever necessary to help him in achieving the team’s goals.

Samuel Eto’o is the embodiment of this. After a treble winning season at Barcelona, he joined Inter Milan, had his worst goal return for a season since 2001, and was played out of position. Many would not hold it against the forward for begrudging the Portuguese manager for hindering his progress after an incredible season. But, the Cameroonian clearly felt very differently, as he linked up with him again at Chelsea.

Success is paramount to legacy. One of de Gaulle’s greatest achievements as the leader of France was the ability to unite a nation hurt, and broken. After Nazi occupation, after immoral acts, after years of weakness and submission where they relied on the Allies to save them, thousands if not millions of people buy into the myth that “France liberated itself” that de Gaulle so famously stated. They are pioneers and merchants of unity, and cohesion in achieving management success.

It is their charisma and rhetoric that allow them not to be subject to the norms of a society intrinsically against those who desire to gloat about their own successes

It is their self-assurance that makes this unity come to fruition. Very few people could dub themselves the ‘Special One’ at their job, before actually doing any work. Even fewer could go from holding no political position on June 4 1940 to declaring themselves ‘the General’ by the 18th of the same month.

Their meticulous preparation,  their exuberance of confidence, and a self-assurance beyond belief allow the two to achieve what many would deem the impossible. It is their charisma and rhetoric that allow them not to be subject to the norms of a society intrinsically against those who desire to gloat about their own successes.

Mourinho’s analogies evoke a charm you can’t help but admire. In one of his many famous spats with Wenger, he claimed that Wenger was a “specialist in failure” and more recently he even denied that his United side lost to Hull, as he disagreed with the penalty decision given against his side. Few people could contest the score of a game, and come away from it without being seen as borderline schizophrenic.

Both men did whatever necessary to craft their own legacy

De Gaulle, for his entire time in power, chipped away at the American powers. He undermined their global influence by insisting the communist USSR were sensible people and by commanding smaller nations like Mexico to liberate themselves from American power. Ignoring the hypocrisy of the statement, considering de Gaulle desired a French Union made up of France’s constituent colonies, he somehow managed to avoid criticism for his statements and maintained a positive relationship with American presidents due to his charisma.

Force of personality that combined with unparalled rhetoric mark their appearances as being above the mere mortal. Mourinho and de Gaulle will go down as two of the most divisive characters in their respective industries. In a world where many will try and replicate Gaullism ideology, and Mourinho’s tactical nous to achieve glory, the many will fail. It is because Gaullism and Mourinhoism, are more than just ideologies. It would be impossible to replicate them without being de Gaulle or Mourinho. They embody human aspects, and human psychology that many of us would never be able to adopt and adeptly utilise to instil an intense belief in our men that they could take on the world, like the two leaders could.

Force of personality that combined with unparalled rhetoric mark their appearances as being above the mere mortal

In an era where an egotistical belief in your ability is deemed a decidedly negative quality, the two are a rare breed who will forever be remembered for their inert confidence in getting the job done. They are men that people love to hate. The world does not want many Mourinhos or de Gaulles. But they are indviduals we just can’t help but admire.

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