Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben has sent Manchester United players an important message about Jose Mourinho, noting that the Portuguese is a “perfect match” for any player wanting to give their best.
The Dutchman arrived at Stamford Bridge from PSV Eindhoven back in 2004 and spent two successful – but albeit injury blighted – years under Mourinho, claiming two Premier League titles before leaving for Real Madrid in 2007.
He has since established himself as one of the finest wingers of our generation, claiming six Bundesliga titles with Bayern and scoring the winning goal in the 2013 Champions League final.
And Robben, now 33, in a letter to his 16-year-old self for the Player’s Tribune, emphasised the importance of Mourinho’s managerial style in setting him up for such a successful career.
“And your boss? His name is José Mourinho. I should prepare you. Because he will expect a lot of you … and of everyone,” he said.
“Right away, you’ll feel the difference in playing for a Premier League club. You’ll need to be tougher, stronger, faster. Maybe when the end of your career becomes more and more of a reality … you start thinking about the beginning.
“You’ll have to prove yourself all over again once you get there. And prove yourself to José every single week to stay in the lineup. Look, a lot has been said about José. He’s a strong personality, he’s demanding.
“But ever since you started playing, you’ve been just as demanding of yourself. In a way, it’ll almost seem like a perfect match. He wants to see your very best, each and every day on the pitch. And all you’ll want to give is your best. Whether in training, or in a match.
“It’ll only be two years, but Chelsea will be an important step for you. For your manager, for dealing with injuries — but, also, that team will be something special. I give credit to José on this, he knows how to create and build a team. And this team? Well, it was a good one.”
Reading Robben’s piece, one thing becomes clear: that those two years under Mourinho, and in that Chelsea side, were the most important of his career.
He notes that the Portuguese knows how to “create and build” a team, and those in the United squad ought to take note of this. Mourinho will push you, criticise you, leave you out if necessary, but any managerial decision – every word uttered – is geared towards achieving excellence on the pitch.
Nobody can doubt that, after two transfer windows, Mourinho has given this side a new identity, and supporters can only hope that the current squad at the 54-year-old’s disposal makes the most of this rare opportunity.