Jose Mourinho has mentored several future managers, Brendan Rodgers, Aitor Karanka and Andre Villas-Boas included. But he always insisted his No 2 Rui Faria rated above them all.
‘If one day I have to speak about disciples, the real one is the one that has been with me since 2000,’ he said shortly after taking over at Manchester United.
‘He thinks like me, is adapted to my way of coaching, the one with most similarities to me — even in terms of personality.’
Jose Mourinho is spending his first season in the dugout without his No 2 Rui Faria beside him
The 55-year-old has cut a very isolated figure on the touchline this season without his No 2
This season, for the first time since the turn of the century, Mourinho has had to work without his closest comrade and confidante. Faria left United and his long-time boss in the summer after almost 20 years of unprecedented success at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
The reasons are still a mystery — though Faria’s camp insist it was nothing other than a need to have a break and one day become a manager in his own right — but the impact is clear: Mourinho now looks lost, isolated and nervy.
Watching Faria over the years was often like witnessing a mini-me Mourinho. If the boss did not have the energy to berate officials, Faria would step in. The verbal attack during the back end of Mourinho’s first home Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge was extraordinary.
If Mourinho was unable to deliver his sarcastic, sulky one-liners at Press conferences, through being banned or having been sent to the stands, then Faria filled in. It could have been Mourinho sitting there.
Yet their relationship was far more than master and servant. Faria was also a conduit between the manager and players if Mourinho was in one of his harsher moods.
Faria has been part of Mourinho’s staff in every managerial role he has taken in his career
Rui Faria first crossed paths with Jose Mourinho at a seminar day at Barcelona, where the latter was working as an assistant.
He was appointed to Mourinho’s staff at Uniao Leiria in 2001 as a fitness coach, before following him to Porto.
There, he was made the Portuguese’s assistant and has followed him in every role since to Chelsea — twice, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Mourinho spent most of last season lambasting Luke Shaw but Faria offered the left back comfort and advice. Who is doing that job at United this season if Paul Pogba or Anthony Martial have their feathers ruffled?
Michael Carrick is now on board but despite the respect Mourinho has for the former United midfielder, they cannot build a ‘band of brothers’ relationship overnight.
Faria was with Mourinho from the beginning. In 18 months, from being unknowns in the Portuguese League they guided Porto to 2003 UEFA Cup final success over Celtic. A year later, they were kings of Europe, Porto winning the Champions League before the architects moved to England and ended Chelsea’s 50-year wait for a League championship.
Faria visibly fought Mourinho’s corner in the dug-out. The manager always knew as he took on the world that his No 2 would back him and that gave him incredible confidence to keep fighting.
In Manchester, life in an apartment at the Lowry Hotel was made more bearable for Mourinho, whose family were in London, by having his good friend nearby.
The pair moved to Real Madrid in 2010, where they won the Spanish title and Copa del Rey
Mourinho and Faria delivered three Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge over two spells
Faria had to be restrained by Mourinho during a fiery ecounter with Mike Dean in 2013
‘It’s important to have people around that identify with me,’ he explained last year. ‘If I need to be in a meeting, Rui has the knowledge of how I think.
‘He lives two minutes away. We have dinner almost every day. My assistants all live in the same building, two minutes away from the hotel where I’m staying.’
Mourinho knew one day that Faria’s ambition and the workload put on him would see a parting of the ways. Faria, who at 43 is 12 years younger than Mourinho, had hankered after being a manager for some time. Friends say the big surprise is not that he decided to go but that he stayed so long.
Faria was at Inter with Mourinho when the Serie A club lifted the Champions League in 2010
The pair visited Chelsea in 2009 on a scouting mission ahead of Inter’s Champions League tie
The Special One feels Faria has what it takes to do better than Rodgers or Villas-Boas, both of whom have had managerial success. ‘If one day I had to choose my successor, it is Rui Faria. The one with more potential than anyone.’
Yet the fact that Faria has not yet taken another job led to speculation that the pair had had a fall-out. But there is no firm evidence. Insiders say Faria still talks to his old boss and spends a lot of time in London where his daughters are understood to be studying.
Faria was a fitness coach at Porto under Mourinho, before he was made a No 2 at Chelsea
It was simply a case that after 18 years with Mourinho, Faria wanted to prioritise his family — and then start his own managerial career.
But, like Brian Clough without Peter Taylor, Mourinho is struggling. Some wonder if he has lost his great asset, the mental strength to succeed under high pressure.
At the end of last season, he explained a coaching revamp to cope with Faria’s departure. ‘I will organise my staff in a way where the assistant-manager figure doesn’t exist,’ he said.
Essentially, he was saying Faria was irreplaceable and the first month of this season tells you why. Maybe he will ask him back. Maybe he will find a way to be successful alone but there is no doubt the loss of Faria has had a huge impact.