José Mourinho was once Nuno Espírito Santo’s coach when the current Manchester United boss oversaw FC Porto between 2002 and 2004, but tomorrow the pair will stand in the dugout together as newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to Old Trafford.
United’s opponents have certainly adapted well to life in the Premier League, having picked up eight points from their first five matches since their return to the top flight after six years in the Championship – including taking two points off Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Mourinho’s record as a manager speaks for itself: his 25 trophies won make him one of the most well-established and decorated managers in the history of the game.
The former Chelsea, Internazionale and Real Madrid chief bagged six of his haul in his native Portugal while in charge of FC Porto – including guiding them to Champions League glory in 2004.
Espírito Santo, the ex-Porto goalkeeper, only made six appearances during Mourinho’s two highly successful years in Portugal’s second city as understudy to the outstanding Vítor Baía – winner of the Best European Goalkeeper Award in 2004.
Despite his limited playing time, though, there is no doubt that Mourinho had a huge influence on the managerial career of his former stopper.
After leading both Valencia and Porto to Champions League qualification, Espírito Santo went on to take the reins at Molineux in the summer of 2017, winning England’s second tier emphatically at his first attempt – earning 99 points along the way.
Away from the pitch, Wolves’ boss is turning into a cult hero in the Black Country and he is looking to leave his mark on English football just as his compatriot Mourinho has done.
Wolves were undisputedly the best team in the Championship last season, and their Portuguese influence was at the heart of it – an influence that increased in the summer with the signings of Ruben Vinagre and Diogo Jota – capped at youth level for Portugal.
Further signings included Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho – two key members of Portugal’s triumphant Euro 2016 campaign who have 188 international caps between them.
These signings mean that Wolves have eight Portuguese players in their squad – as many as SL Benfica.
Mourinho is yet to lose a Premier League game to a fellow Portuguese manager, but Espírito Santo’s vibrant Wolves side may possess the tools to end that run at Old Trafford.
The odds will be stacked largely against them when they face a United side who have won their last three games in all competitions scoring seven goals and only conceding one.
But Wolves’ positive brand of football – driven largely by their Portuguese influence – could present Mourinho with his toughest test yet in England.
Mourinho’s Portuguese Premier League opponents
When Roman Abramovich chose Mourinho to lead Chelsea in 2004, he became the first Portuguese manager to manage in England’s top flight.
His first Portuguese opponent in the dugout in England didn’t come until 10 years later though.
After he was dismissed by Chelsea in September 2007, Mourinho took six years out where he won titles in Italy and Spain before returning to west London in 2013.
He comes up against Espírito Santo on match day six of the 2018/19 season, and he came up against Andre Villas-Boas on match day six of the 2013/14 season.
On this occasion, the match ended in a 1-1 draw in a game of two halves.
Current Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Spurs the lead in the first half, but John Terry equalised with a powerful header in the second half.
One player who had an impact on proceedings in the second half five years ago may well feature this time around – Juan Mata’s introduction at half time made a difference and it was the current United man who delivered the ball which Terry headed home.
Mourinho was made to wait a while to come up against another Portuguese manager – three and a half years precisely.
Today is Espírito Santo’s third away game in charge of Wolves in the Premier League, and the 0-0 draw between United and Hull City was Silva’s third Premier League away game in the Tigers’ hot seat.
Hull rarely threatened in a game United dominated but failed to score in despite having 67 percent of the ball and 17 shots at goal.
In another meeting between the Portuguese pair almost 10 months later, the game was quite the opposite.
After being relegated with Hull in May 2017, Silva started the 2017/18 campaign in charge of Watford.
Mourinho’s latest Premier League win came at Vicarage Road – the same ground he tasted victory at in November 2017 in a six-goal thriller in Hertfordshire.
Two goals for Ashley Young against his old club were followed up with a goal from Anthony Martial in a dominant first-half display from the Red Devils.
But in the second half, the Hornets added sting of their own as goals from Troy Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucouré set up a tense finish before Jesse Lingard wrapped up the points with a fabulous solo run and finish three minutes from time.
Silva was appointed manager of Hull at the beginning of 2017 to keep them in the division – a task he failed to accomplish.
Similarly, Carvahal failed to retain Swansea’s Premier League status a year later when he was appointed at a similar time to Silva a year on.
Carvahal’s first game as Swansea manager was a 2-1 win away to Silva’s Watford, but he couldn’t produce such heroics three months later as his side were beaten 2-0 by Mourinho’s men at Old Trafford.
First-half strikes from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez put United in a commanding position, a position they sustained up until the final whistle.
A splendid double save in the second half from David de Gea to deny Tammy Abraham ensured the sensational Spaniard would keep a clean sheet on his way to winning the Premier League golden glove.