The ex-Blues, PSG and AC Milan defender developed a close relationship with the Portuguese coach, despite expecting to have to deal with a huge ego
Former Chelsea defender Alex says he had the wrong idea of Jose Mourinho before he met the Portuguese coach, saying he is not as arrogant as expected.
The Brazilian centre-back joined Chelsea from PSV in 2004, a month after Mourinho was hired for his first of two spells at Stamford Bridge, but work permit problems saw him loaned to PSV for the majority of the coach’s time in charge.
Mourinho went on to become the most successful coach in the club’s history, but the Portuguese’s reputation has plummeted in recent years. Disappointing performances and results as well as breakdowns in relationships with players plagued his second spell at the Blues as well as spells at Real Madrid and Manchester United.
But Alex has fond memories of his time with the Champions League-winning manager, who became a father figure to him at Chelsea.
“I was surprised with Mourinho,” Alex told Goal. “I had that impression of him as a super arrogant person with a massive ego, because of what we saw in the media, but I ended up seeing another thing.
“I worked with him for just three months at Chelsea and everyday Mourinho used to sit by my side and and we talked a lot. I liked him very much as a person and as a coach. Of course he has his own way of bringing out the best of the players, and a lot of times the players don’t agree with him.
“Sometimes he can hurt, he is very severe with some players… I saw Andriy Shevchenko suffering a bit with this at Chelsea. Mourinho used to put a lot of pressure on Shevchenko and some players don’t work well with this, but for me he is fantastic as a person and as a coach.
“I arrived in 2007 and I can say that our group accepted him very well, and it seems to me that the players today don’t. In his latest jobs he always ended up fighting with someone, especially the big stars. We saw that at Manchester United too. It seems that the players from today don’t accept his style, his way of working. But in that [Chelsea] team, what I saw were players who really liked him.”
Mourinho is one of a long line of coaches who have been hired and fired at Chelsea since Roman Abramovich bought over the club. The trend looks set to continue, as current boss Maurizio Sarri has come under pressure in his first season in charge of the Blues and has been given a few games to save his job.
And Alex believes the Italian must hurry up and turn things around immediately if he has a chance of living up to expectation.
“I had great expectations for Sarri because I played against his Napoli team and it was really tough,” Alex said. “They were a team with no stars, just Gonzalo Higuain up front but tactically it worked. They were flying. As a fan I created expectations but it’s not happening… They suffered that defeat to Manchester City, 6-0, and this is not normal for Chelsea, right? It depends a lot on the coach I think.
“Because of what is happening at Chelsea, he has to recover as fast as possible. Otherwise I think that if he loses… it’s difficult down there. Abramovich is not that patient and there’s this result against City. Things got really bad for the manager. I think it’s very difficult. He must recover fast and get good results.”
Asked if Chelsea’s dressing room could be described as ‘toxic’, Alex said it was common for players to do their part to get an underperforming manager forced out.
“During my time, yes. I can’t speak about now because I’m not there. But it was during my time,” he said. “There were lots of people hoping that things wouldn’t end well and a coach ended up leaving. I think this happens in a lot of clubs, I think it’s normal in football. And Chelsea became very famous especially after what happened with Luiz Felipe Scolari, with some people saying Didier Drogba had a meeting with Abramovich… I think it happens at all clubs, I don’t see much of a difference. Sometimes players really hope that managers can be sacked.”