Third-year curse? A brief history of Jose Mourinho's dismissals

A brief history of Jose Mourinho's third year struggles.
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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was sacked on Thursday, marking the third time that he has been fired in the third season of his tenure with a club.

When a journalist mentioned the third–year trend to Mourinho in September, he barked back during a press conference and told the reporter to “click Google” and stop asking stupid questions.

While Mourinho hasn't exclusively been sacked during his third year, he has a history of success followed by firing. Here's a look at Mourinho's high-profile exits, including Thursday's sacking by Chelsea. 

Benfica, União de Leiria, Porto (2000–2004)

Mourinho started off his coaching career with short stints at Benfica and União de Leiria in Portugal before settling into a job with Porto. He would spend two seasons at Porto, where he helped lead the club to Primeira Liga and UEFA Champions League titles. Due to his impressive work, Chelsea owner Roman ­Abramovich came calling with a three-year offer, and Mourinho departed for his first stint in England. 

Chelsea (2004–2007)

Mourinho was successful early on in his first stay at Stamford Bridge, winning Premier League titles in each of his first two seasons. His third season saw him win League Cup and FA Cup titles. Things took a rocky turn when the team added Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko, youth development head Frank Arnesen and director of football Avram Grant. One of his biggest clashes came with Abramovich when he argued that he lacked funds to sign players during the January transfer window. As the conflict between Mourinho and ownership grew, Mourinho departed the club early in the 2007 season. 

He finished his first stint at Chelsea having won 124 of 185 games, including a 60-game league unbeaten streak at Stamford Bridge.

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Inter Milan (2008–2010)

In June 2008, Mourinho signed a three-year contract to serve as the successor to Roberto Mancini at Inter. He won the Supercoppa Italiana in 2008 and continued the club's dominance in Serie A by winning the Scudetto in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. In his second year, Mourinho guided Inter Milan to a UEFA Champions League title. But after the season, he departed for Real Madrid. 

Mourinho was vocal about his portrayal in the Italian media as he said he is “not happy in Italian football, because I don't like it and they don't like me.” 

Real Madrid (2010–2013)

Not many managers have made it through four seasons with Real Madrid in the last 25 years of the club. Manager Vicente del Bosque was just five months short of four years before he was canned in 2003.

Mourinho helped Real Madrid win the La Liga title in 2011–12 and the Copa del Rey in 2010–11. He also took the club to three consecutive Champions League semifinals appearances.

After two years at Real Madrid, Mourinho signed a four-year deal. A few months into the new contract, he started to fall out with top players like Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. Cristiano Ronaldo was at times vocal about his own disappointment with the club's management. Not winning any trophies in his third year hastened his exit. He called the third season with the club the “worst of my career.”

Chelsea (2013–2015)

Mourinho's relationship with Abramovich repaired, he signed a four-year contract to manage the club again in June 2014. In his introductory press conference, he said the two biggest passions of his career have been “Inter and Chelsea...and Chelsea is more than important for me.”

In his first season back at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea finish third in the Premier League. In his second season, Chelsea captured the Premier League title, and Mourinho was named the Premier League Manager of the Season.

Just six months later, Mourinho was sacked again after losing nine of 16 league matches to start the year. He had signed a four–year extension in August after compiling arguably the most successful resume for a Chelsea manager, including three league titles plus an FA Cup and three League Cup titles over his two stints with the club. Chelsea suffered a 2–1 defeat at the hands of Leicester on Monday, which dropped the team to one point above the relegation zone and furthered the worst title defense in league history.

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The team issued a statement assuring that Mourinho leaves as a well-respected manager in the club's history.

“The club wishes to make clear Jose leaves us on good terms and will always remain a much-loved, respected and significant figure at Chelsea,” the team said in a statement. “His legacy at Stamford Bridge and in England has long been guaranteed and he will always be warmly welcomed back to Stamford Bridge.”