At times – or all of the time – Jose Mourinho shows all the traits of a cartoon villain.
Now increasingly grumpy-faced with each passing press conference and armed with a frown so deep it resembles that of a half-moon, the aggrieved Manchester United boss has been his sordid self even before the start of the Premier League.
Mourinho has a tendency to "self-implode" rather spectacularly in his third season at past clubs he has managed, and as he is set to enter his third season as Red Devils boss, Goal unpacks the roots of the phrase – and outlines what may be in store for him this upcoming term.
What is Mourinho's 'third season' curse?
Mourinho's "third season implosion" references the manager's tendency to fall apart at the seams in a rather sensational manner, right after a (typically) successful second season at the club.
What makes the third season "implosion" so fantastical is that it generally comes right off the back of a fruitful campaign – coupled with his increasingly aggravated off-pitch outbursts.
The new season has yet to start and Mourinho has already been giving rash and bizarre interviews, lashing out at United's owners for a lack of transfer activity, his impatience at his first-team side still away on holiday and then launching an attack his youth players.
The Old Trafford outfit finished a record 19 points behind Man City last season (to his arch nemesis Pep Guardiola, no less) and his undoing may be a sign that he is has already, in his mind, registered defeat – going as far to say that he "fears" what lies ahead of the team.
Mourinho's record at Chelsea 2006-07
Second season record: Premier League winners 2004-05 and 2005-06; League Cup winners 2004-05; Community Shield winners 2005.
The Portuguese manager signed for Chelsea and immediately proclaimed himself as the "Special One" before ending the club's 50-year top-flight title drought, winning the league in his debut season. His 95 points won was a then-record, as well as his 29 victories.
Third season record: Premier League runners-up, six points behind Manchester United; eliminated in semi-finals of the Champions League; winning the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Following consecutive title wins in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge, things went downhill after his third campaign.
In the summer of 2006, going into his third term, there were reports of a fallout between Mourinho and owner Roman Abramovich, particularly in regards to the signing of striker Andriy Shevchenko – a signing that Mourinho did not want to make.
Though Chelsea won the FA Cup and the League Cup, they didn't match their previous league standards and finished six points behind Manchester United. That was enough for Mourinho to leave the club unexpectedly in September 2007, right after the start of the season.
Mourinho's record at Real Madrid 2012-13
Second season record: La Liga winners 2011-12; Copa del Rey winners 2010-11
Mourinho had an incredibly successful spell at Inter where he became the first manager to win the European Cup at two different clubs, and started his spell managing Real Madrid strongly enough.
He managed to pip Barcelona side to the La Liga in his second season, and accumulated 100 points – something he still doesn't let the world forget about.
2011-12 La Liga standings:
|1||Real Madrid (C)||38||32||4||2||121||32||89||100|
Third season record: Finished 15 points behind Barcelona in La Liga; eliminated in semi-finals of Champions League by Borussia Dortmund; lost Copa del Rey final to Atletico Madrid.
Mourinho was on top of the world in the summer of 2012, having guided Real Madrid to the La Liga title to end Barcelona's domination of the league. He had agreed terms of a fresh four-year contract, but it didn't take long for trouble to brew. It's at Real Madrid where he's considered to have started his unravelling – the beginning of when he lost his spark as the 'Special One'.
Despite having started the season strongly by defeating Barcelona to win the Spanish Supercopa, the Catalan side regained control of the league and were ahead of Real by 18 points midway through the season.
His third term at Madrid was shaped largely by off-pitch troubles and clashes with key figures such as Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas – his treatment of the veteran goalkeeper causing deep division between fans.
He then fell out with star striker Cristiano Ronaldo after accusing the Portuguese international of being unable to accept constructive criticism.
Mourinho's relationship with the Spanish media also deteriorated following his accusations that Barcelona received unfair UEFA treatment and his own critical comments targeted at Karim Benzema. When his first-choice forward Gonzalo Higuain was injured, Mourinho stated: "If I can't hunt with a dog, I will hunt with a cat."
Things exacerbated rather comically when he very purposely poked ex-Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye and was then sent to the stands during Real's loss to Atletico in the Copa del Rey.
Real finished runners-up to Barcelona and trophyless, with Mourinho describing the season as "worst" of his career. He then departed the club by mutual agreement three days after the end of the season.
2012-13 La Liga standings:
Mourinho's record at Chelsea (Part Two) 2015-16
Second season record: Premier League winners 2014-15, League Cup winners 2014-15.
At the third club in a row his second term in charge proved to be his most successful. His second spell was like a redemption after he left so unceremoniously the first time as he improved on Chelsea's faults from the previous season and guided them to a Premier League and League Cup double – just as he had done 10 years prior.
2014-15 Premier League (matchweek 16) standings:
Third season record (given the sack in December): Sat 16th in the Premier League; eliminated in last 16 of the Champions League; eliminated in sixth round in FA Cup and fourth round in League Cup.
Everything should have been going in Mourinho's favour following the summer of 2015. He signed a fresh four-year contract with the Blues in August – but everything fell apart as soon as the opening weekend of the competition begin.
During the opening fixture, having seen his side go down to 10 men after the dismissal of Thibaut Courtois with Chelsea drawing 2-2 with Swansea, things became heated when Mourinho berated team doctor Eva Carneiro, claiming she mistreating Eden Hazard during stoppage time.
Carneiro was merely doing her job and attending to the injured player, but Mourinho blamed her for her part in the final result – an incident which marked the start of his sensational downward spiral in his second spell at the club.
Chelsea were in spectacularly bad form on the pitch, having lost seven of their opening 12 Premier League games and granted new Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp his first league win with a 3-1 loss. The Portuguese boss went on a spectacular non-rant in his post-match interview – insisting that he had "nothing to say" following his reprimanding by the FA for accusing referees of being biased against Chelsea.
2015-16 Premier League (matchweek 16) standings:
Mourinho was eventually given the boot in December with Chelsea languishing in 16th in the table and just one point above the relegation zone. The joys from his second season were contrasted by a miserable third one – carrying in tradition of that infamous third-season torment.
We'll have to wait and see what truly becomes of his third term at Old Trafford. Grab your popcorn.