Arguably, José Mourinho has been proved more right than wrong since he left English shores. His assessment of his tenure at Manchester United certainly seems prescient, with nobody else faring anywhere near as well in the post-Ferguson era at Old Trafford.

As for his second spell at Chelsea, it was a mixed bag. Liverpool certainly did not appreciate it, after he notoriously played the villain in the 2013/14 title race, even though that was only enough to salvage third place for the Blues (a feat nevertheless apparently worthy of being memorialized in song almost a decade on).

Mourinho left early in his third season after the kind of catastrophic run to which Chelsea seems magnetically attracted—but not before he had bagged a Premier League title, which now looks like a distant dream in West London. There are legitimate questions about how well his methods translate to success at the very top level in the modern game, but he undoubtedly knows how to set up teams that absolutely hate losing.


Yet there is one thing even Mourinho would surely concede he got wrong. In his first winter transfer window back at Stamford Bridge, he brought in a certain Mohamed Salah: a speedy, skinny winger who had just caused Chelsea some serious problems in the Champions League, scoring home and away as the Swiss side did an unlikely double.

That transfer in itself was not a mistake — it could have been a masterstroke. But Mourinho comprehensively failed to get the best out of Salah, and had all but given up on him after just a year, when he was loaned to Fiorentina.

Mohamed Salah Has Proved José Mourinho Wrong At Liverpool And Even Didier Drogba Might Admit It
Mourinho has named an all-time XI of players he managed, with Egypt star Mohamed predictably omitted.© Marc Atkins/Getty Images

As a result, it was no surprise to see Mourinho omit Salah from a best XI of players he has worked with, ahead of an upcoming appearance on John Obi Mikel’s podcast. The Liverpool legend would shoot right towards the top of that list if his Anfield form was factored in, but presumably the Portuguese was going off those who performed best under him.

Instead, the front line consisted of Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard and Cristiano Ronaldo. Of those, only Ronaldo can claim to have had a ‘better’ career than Salah — underscoring just how wrong Mourinho got it with the Egyptian.

Even Drogba himself might agree with this assessment. The Ivorian has always been one of Salah’s main supporters, and congratulated him recently after a landmark 200th Liverpool goal, and 150th Premier League strike.

Quote-tweeting a comment from 2017, in which he called Salah a ‘legend in the making’, Drogba simply concluded that the ‘rest is history’. Now 46 goals behind the Liverpool star in the Premier League standings, he may well concur with the notion that he would not now be featuring in Mourinho’s ‘best XI’ if the coach had got the best out of the scrawny talent from Basel.

Likewise, while Salah vs Hazard was a tedious debate for some time, it’s clear now that the Liverpool star is in a different league. Not only has he consistently posted more impressive numbers, he has done it for longer — there have been no curious season-long dips in form, and his availability record remains near-spotless.

Another inclusion in Mourinho’s team, John Terry recently said it was his ‘one regret’ that he did not do more as captain to help young players like Salah settle in. His manager surely feels something similar.

One thing that’s clear is that Mourinho was categorically wrong to cast Salah aside so quickly, after handing him such limited opportunities. Should Jürgen Klopp ever come to construct a best XI, the Egyptian will be the first name on the team sheet.