Jose Mourinho – Guest Blog by Ricky Clarke

Ricky Clarke is a recent graduate of the NSCAA Master Coach diploma.  The Master Coach program is the NSCAA's response to growing trend in coaching education, continuous self-improvement.  Ricky’s coaching resume is very impressive.  He holds the USSF National A’ License, USSF Youth License & the NSCAA’s Premier Diploma.  You can follow his journey at where he interviews professional soccer players, coaches & provides FREE downloadable sessions for coaches. 

Below he has shared 2 sessions that he watched Jose Mourinho perform at a Real Madrid training camp in America during summer 2012.


The Jose Mourinho Way – Part #1

The NSCAA and UCLA hosted a Special Topics Course Tactical Thinking with José Mourinho last weekend in Los Angeles. The NSCAA is based in Kansas City, Kan., the National Soccer Coaches Association of America is the largest soccer coaches’ organization in the world. Coaches from around the world travelled to California to hear the methodologies employed by the “Special One”.

The Jose Mourinho – Three Part Series

I’ve broken the course into three main parts. The first post will involve ideas used during his first training session (July 30th) as Real Madrid prepare to face L.A. Galaxy on Aug 4th. The second post will discuss the two hour lecture we experienced with Jose Mourinho and the entire Real Madrid first team coaching staff. Finally, the last post will outline ideas used in the second training session that afternoon (July 30th).  I’ll also attempt to conclude some thoughts on the weekend…it was an unbelievable experience!


Jose Mourinho sessions were extremely well organized. Below, I’ve outlined the training session notes I took during our first training with Real Madrid. Some key notes were:

  1. All Real Madrid first team coaches were involved throughout the session. Whether it’s coaching, player management or moving equipment (even Jose did).
  2. Jose Mourinho used TWO full-sided fields every session.
  3. The players had very little downtime. Breaks in between coaching were short and the intensity remained consistent.
  4. Everything is timed, players are directed by one main time keeper.
  5. Each activity lasted less than 20 minutes.

NOTE - Players stretched and participated in a light jogging session for 10 minutes before starting the session. 

 Part 1 – Speed & Agility Shooting and Small Sided Games 

  • Players: Every player was involved
  • Time: 20 MINS. The team was split into 2 groups. The groups would switch very 4 minutes, this helped keep the intensity high.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: The SSG was open, players could score in any goal, 1-touch play was encouraged, the playing area was very tight and compact. The game was intense and competitive, the players didn’t hold back.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection was encouraged, intensity was encouraged at all time.

Part 2 – Pattern Play with Central Midfield & Striker Combination 

  • Players: Every player was involved.
  • Time: 20 MINS
  • Conditions: Players were shown a set series of patterns, they were then encouraged to complete them at game speed.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection was encouraged, players performed at speed, intensity was encouraged at all time.
  • NOTE – groups would switch roles every 5 minutes. Jose Mourinho would spend time explaining the pattern, then watch and coach if needed.

Pattern #1 – Playing Through Central Midfield                  Pattern #2 – Playing out of the back

Part #3 – Small Sided Game & Functional Training of Mid-Fielders   

  • Players: 17 Players involved – 3 Players being training functionally away from the 7v7+3 game.
  • Time: 20 MINS (3 minute rotation for target players)
  • Conditions: Players were challenged to find targets before they could score. The area was tight and compact.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection was encouraged, 1-touch and combination play desired.

Game: 7V7 + 3 Targets 

Central Midfielders being functionally trained at the same time away from the field 

Part #4 – Cool Down and Stretch 

NOTE – In between rest breaks Mourinho and his staff always used these opportunities to man manage. They would pull players aside to discuss the session and their ideas. As you can see below, everyone cool’s down together.


Jose Mourinho once described Louis Van Gaal training sessions as:

“With Van Gaal i could arrive at the stadium a mere half an hour before the practice. I had nothing to worry about because the work was always completely defined. I knew everything we were going to do beforehand. From the practice objectives to the time for doing exercises, not forgetting the main points of methodology, nothing was left to chance and everything was programmed in great detail. All that was left for me – and for the other assistants in the different areas – was the training on the pitch. This meant that my work improved tremendously in terms of the quality because, as I mentioned, with Robson I didn’t get much practice as a coach on the pitch”

Source: Jose Mourinho – Written by Luis Lourenco

Now we know where he gets his organization from!


Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho gives in

The Jose Mourinho Way – Part #3 


Jose Mourinho sessions were extremely well organized. Below, I’ve outlined the training session notes I took during our first training with Real Madrid. Some key notes were:

  1. All Real Madrid first team coaches were involved throughout the session. Whether it’s coaching, player management or moving equipment (even Jose did).
  2. Jose Mourinho used TWO full-sided fields every session.
  3. The players had very little downtime. Breaks in between coaching were short and the intensity remained consistent.
  4. Everything is timed, players are directed by one main time keeper.
  5. Each activity lasted less than 20 minutes.
  6. This session involved varying levels of intensity and space, constant adaptation.

NOTE - Players stretched and participated in a light jogging session for 10 minutes before starting the session. 

Part #1 – Speed, Agility & 1V1′S 

This session involved numerous training exercises with varying degrees of intensity, they ranged  from tight spaces, shadow play and 1v1 environments.

  • Players: Every player was involved (GK’s trained in their own).
  • Time: 20 MINS. The team was split into 2 groups. The diagram shows one grid, but the session had two grids running.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Players would run into the grid through the sticks and over hurdles. The defenders needed to win the ball and keep possession until the whistle blew.
  • Coaching Points: Players were encouraged to shield the ball and keep possession. Some players looked dribble (Alonso & Ozil) away from pressure.

Part #2 Functional Training – Attacking Midfielders 

  • Players: Every player was involved (GK’s trained in their own).
  • Time: 20 MINS. The team was split into 2 groups. The diagram shows one grid, but the session had two grids running.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Attacking players had to combine going to goal. The offside was used to keep the game competitive and fair. If the defenders won the ball, they kept possession and use targets to create a 7v4 situation.
  • Coaching Points: Attacking players were encouraged to play 1-touch combinations in and around the PK spot area. Wingers would look to play a reverse pass if they got in behind the full-back. Attackers were encouraged to win the ball back “immediately” if they lost possession.

Part #3 – Possession with Targets 

  • Players: 20 Players – 1 Player functionally training away from the group.
  • Time: 20 minutes, each game 4 minute rotations.
  • Field: 1 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Targets can only 1-touch. Once you combine with one target, you must find another target in a different grid.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection, movement to support, space awareness. Players always rotate roles (targets).

NOTE - The younger players were being functionally trained to cut inside and take a shot across the GK with a coach.

Part #4 – Pattern Play – Attacking Movement using a 1-4-3-3 

  • Players: 11 Players –  The remaining players practiced combining and going to goal.
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Field: 3/4 Full sized field
  • Game Conditions: Players were shown two combinations by Jose Mourinho. Everything was expected to be performed at game speed with technical perfection.
  • Coaching Points: Technical perfection, movement to support, dynamic movement.

Pattern #1 – Wide forward moves inside, striker runs into space and crosses.

Pattern #2 – Wide player receives and plays a deep cross to the back post.

The training session finished with a 11v11 game on half a field (open play). NOTE – the players were extremely pissed when Jose finished the game. The sign of a good session, finishing it when the players are demanding more!

Please check our FREE Download section for the full session.  

Valencia Coaching Clinic

The Spanish philosophy & training methods are high in demand with them being current World Cup & European Championship winners.  Along with the success of fellow club sides Real Madrid & Barcelona.  Valencia visited Belfast to operate clinics for local children & coaches.  TW Sports hosted an event in conjunction with organisers Saffron Sport.  Below you can read about the clinic along with some background about this famous Spanish club.

From left; Manel (Valencia), Tim Wareing (Director of TW Sports), Glenn Murray (TW Sports coach) & Jose (Valencia)


Although Valencia deserve the credit as much as Barca & Real.  They play in La Liga & are one of the most successful & biggest clubs in Spanish football & European football.  Valencia have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, two Fairs Cups (which was the predecessor to the UEFA Cup), one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, & two UEFA Super Cups. They have also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 & then to German club Bayern Munich on penalties after a 1–1 draw in 2001.  Valencia were also members of the G-14 group of leading European football clubs.  In total, Valencia have reached seven major European finals, winning four of them.

In the all-time La Liga table, Valencia is in third position behind FC Barcelona & Real Madrid.  In terms of continental titles, Valencia is again the third-most successful behind the two, with these three being the only Spanish clubs to have won five or more continental trophies.

Valencia were founded in 1919 & have played their home games at the 55,000-seater Mestalla since 1923.  They are due to move into the new 75,000-seater Nou Mestalla in the north-west of the city in 2013.  Valencia have a long-standing rivalry with Levante UD, also located in the City of Valencia, & with two others club in the Valencian Community region, Hercules CF & Villarreal CF.

Valencia are the third most supported football club in Spain, behind only Barcelona & Real Madrid.  It is also one of the biggest clubs in the world in terms of number of associates (registered paying supporters), with more than 50,000 season ticket holders & another 20,000+ season ticket holders on the waiting list, who can be accommodated in the new 75,000-seater stadium.

Session Plan

Registration for players & coaches took place from 9.30-10am.  The Valencia coaches, Jose & Manel, arrived early to set up.  Over 30 local children & coaches attended the event.  Many from my Academy attended along with some of my coaching team.  It was nice to see many other children from our Mini Soccer programme come along with children from other local grassroots & Irish League sides.  As always Northern Ireland mentality means so many other children & coaches don't bother to attend an excellent opportunity like this!  Was great to see a coach travel up from down south to attend the clinic too.

After a light warm up & fun game of tig in the 18 yard box they then divided the players to operate keep ball.  This took place in a series of small 5 x 5 yard areas playing 4 v 1.  The duration of the warm up & introduction was approximately 35 minutes before stopping for water.  After this Jose & Manel split the groups.  They worked with 14 children in each group.

Jose briefing the players using the i-pad

Pressing & Come Back

Jose used an i-pad to explain the session & draw out the session plan using a football pitch app.  The players embraced the new technology & way of explaining.  We would see them refer back & use the i-pad on a regular basis to get across explanations to the players throughout the day.  The session took place on half a pitch with full size goals.  The pitch was divided in half & goalkeepers were used.  The basic set up was 3 defenders in one half with 3 attackers in the other half.

One team had to always keep their defenders in that half while the other team had freedom for the defenders to join in with the attackers.  The scenario Jose was trying to create was a tight game whereby one team was winning 1-0 & wanted to keep it tight while the other team were chasing the game.  This was a nice session & you could see the players looking to press as a unit.

Jose would add different restrictions to challenge the players.  The session operated for 30 minutes before players stopped for water & swapped groups.  We then followed the same group to see Manel's session.



Manel worked on half a pitch with 2 full size goals & quartered the pitch.  He was concentrating on 'shifting'.  He used the i-pad to help explain to the players what he wanted.  Players were not allowed to tackle, only intercept.  The team out of possession was encouraged to pressure ball while the team in possession started with 3 touch play.  The main concept was when the ball was lost players were told to drop back & shift in relation to the ball.

This was a nice game that developed players understanding of their role when not in possession of the ball.  The Spanish teams don't get enough credit for their hard work & pressing to win the ball back.  This session offered an opportunity to the players to see how disciplined the Spanish are in relation to what each players role is when not in possession of the ball.

FIFA Street

The session took us up to lunch at 11.45am.  The players were given an hour to eat & rest.  After lunch Jose & Manel selected 4 teams to play 'Fifa Street'.  This offered players freedom to play.  They didn't shout or tell them how to play the players were simply given control & freedom of their games.  The only rules were maximum of 2 minute matches or goal the winner.  Winning team stayed on or if it was a draw both teams replaced.  The only other requirement was to make a pass before scoring in the other half.  They used the 18 yard box as the pitch & 5 aside goals.

This was probably the only bit I didn't like in terms that 2 teams were always off & 'ineffective'.  I would personally prefer to have all teams involved.  Although thinking about it & putting myself into their shoes in Valencia it is very hot & they want teams to receive recovery so I guess this is why they did it.  From my time in Holland & Portugal the European approach is that they like players to watch players.  They feel it offers opportunities to learn & if a player likes a move that a team mate tries they are more likely try to replicate it with possible variations.

From the small sided games they then operated a circle drill.  3 players were in the middle trying to gain possession of the ball while the outside players had to make 10 passes with a restriction to 1 or 2 touches.  They rotated players in the middle every 30 seconds.  This led us into the final part of the session for the day.

Local coaches observe & take notes

Space Management

Jose took the final session of the day based on space management.  On half a pitch with 2 full size goals he set up 5 different coloured boxes.  He had one in every corner with a central box.  The main objective was to pass into 2 boxes then play off central box before scoring.

This encouraged players to look for space & use width.  Jose would also at times call out certain colours if he wanted to dictate play more.  The players worked hard at this & I really liked the session as it focused on players finding space & good ball retention.

You can watch some footage I recorded of Jose & Manel working with the group by clicking here.


After the session I had an opportunity to interview Jose & Manel.  We spoke about youth development in Spain & Valencia's philosophy as well as covering touch line behaviour comparisons & on training methods.  You can watch the interview here.


I'm passionate about sharing ideas & continuing my education in football.  What a treat to spend a day with Valencia & I can't thank Jose & Manel enough for their time & insight.

They coached within the game & only in snippets.  This got players thinking for themselves.  Coaching really isn't a case of screaming all the time & telling players what to do.  Let players search for the solution themselves & you'll notice a real difference long term.

Massive thanks to Saffron Sport for organising & Gareth for offering us opportunity to host the day.  Thanks of course to everyone who supported the event & for my coach, Glenn, for his assistance on the day.

If you want to hear about future pro club clinics or club visits please keep in contact & connect with us.

Want more info?  You can access over 450 of my session plans by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube

Barca – Total Football

Last Mondays El Classico was so one sided it was embarrassing.  Jose Mourinho and his multimillion ego driven squad simply didn't deserve to be on the same pitch as the slick Barca side.  4 years ago I had the pleasure of spending a week with FC Barcelona and I learnt back then the importance that they put into developing youth (you can read my report by clicking here).  So how many players came through the Academy that represented Barca on Monday?  What is the organisation and structure to their Academy and how does this affect their approach to games?  Read on...

My philosophy and coaching is all about developing young players that play with creativity and flair.  I encourage them to run at opponents and beat them with skill.  I also concentrate heavily on possession games.  I always use Barca as a great example of a team full of players that play with freedom, creativity and flair but at the same time are very disciplined.  When you watch Barcelona you will see triangles all over the pitch.  The player on the ball always has options.  They are such an exciting team to watch.

Against Real Madrid every player knew each other's game.  It wasn't a simple case of Barca having the best players in the world.  Every player instinctively knew where every other player was on the pitch at all times.  Out of Barcelona's 14 players involved against Real Madrid only 4 where not developed through the Academy (Abidal, Alves, Keita and David Villa).  This compared to Real Madrid only producing Casillas with the remainder being assembled to the tune of nearly $500 million!

While Real and a host of other top European Clubs spend millions on players hoping to buy success Barca continue to develop their own home-grown players.  Messi, Iniesta and Xavi all came through the Barca Academy and cost nothing.  Barcelona's youth Academy, which in Spanish goes by the name of 'La Cantera', meaning the quarry.

Other players to come through the Academy include Cesc Fabregas, who Arsenal took away at the age of 16,  Mikel Arteta from Everton and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.  Barca manager, Pep Guardiola, also came through the Academy.  In his first season as manager he helped Barcelona win every competition they competed in, 6 in all, including the Spanish League title, World Club Cup and the Champions League against Manchester United.

Against United in the Champions League final, 7 of Barca's starting line up were all produced from the Academy.  Goalkeeper Valdes, defenders Puyol and Pique, midfielders Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and forward Messi.

When I visited Barcelona I loved the fact that the training complex was beside the Camp Nou.  The club has a boarding house that accommodates the older boys from the Academy.  Boys from the age of 13 or 14 that live outside the city are housed here so they don't have to worry about travelling to and from training.  Typically they will train for 6-8 hours per week along with playing a game.  The club insures they also develop their lifestyle and attitudes along with their football education, preaching the importance of healthy eating and early nights.

The boys live, sleep and eat together.  Each morning they are bussed to the best local schools.  Barcelona stresses the importance of finishing their education to the boys.  They return at 2pm for lunch and siesta, with training early evening.  They do their homework in a library with access to private tutors and have a games room with table football, pool and PlayStations.

The boys have 3 objectives when playing matches.  First, they must be the more sporting team, committing fewer fouls and being less aggressive.  Then they must try to win by playing very well, more creatively than the opposition, with attacking football.  Finally they need to win on the scoreboard.

Reina and Arteta were great friends at the Academy.  Although Arteta suffered from homesickness and cried himself to sleep many times.  Iniesta also had problems with homesickness after moving from central Spain to Barcelona at the age of 12.   Saying goodbye to his parents at the end of each weekend would become a mini-drama.  Although Iniesta only had to look out and see the Camp Nou to remind himself of his goal to play there.

Messi arrived at Barcelona from Argentina with his family at the age of 12.  He had a growth deformity and no club in Argentina would pay for the drugs he needed to treat it.  It is no surprise that Barcelona took on Messi unlike in England, where size, strength and the ability to throw your weight around is highly prized.

The model of Barcelona is that 50% of their team should be from the Academy, 35% should be the best players from Spain or Europe and then 15% from the top ten players in the world.  Although the Barcelona Academy is so successful it is also producing players who are among the top ten in the world.

The Academy has 12 boys' teams.  In the Academy each squad has 2 coaches and there are 23 or 24 players in each group.  At least half of the coaches have a UEFA Pro licence.  The club provides the budget, around 6 million Euros per year, and is fully responsible for the academy facilities and training programme.

The qualities that Barcelona look for in a young player is pace, technique and someone who looks like a player.  The speed of decision-making, the way he approaches the game, the vision to pick off a long pass - in other words, the mental qualities to go with the technical ability.  The emphasis is on speed.  When this speed is combined with top-quality technique, then they believe they have the ingredients.

From the age of 7 to 15 everything is about working with the football at the Barcelona Academy.  With the very small boys, the most important thing is to control the ball very well, to have the ability to run with the ball and to think very quickly and execute their passes very well.  They use the same playing system as the first team, so all the youth teams play 4-3-3 formation.  The development teams have to play attacking, attractive football.  Barcelona believe if they do everything well, the winning comes as a consequence.

They also like to keep an open mind and expose players to different playing roles as part of their education.  They work intensely on the individual skill, but also on group play, including each line of the team.  They train the Barca way which involves fast movement of the ball, player mobility, use of width, and a lot of fast, effective finishing.  They watch the passing movements of the first team as they provide the role model of the youth teams.

Another factor which helps continue the development of young players is that Barcelona have a 'B' team.  They play in the lower Spanish League. This helps the club continue to develop young players between the ages of 18 and 21 in a controlled environment.  In England the FA prevent Premier League clubs from having feeder teams in other domestic leagues.

The Barcelona model is based on a number of people providing specialist skills and all working in the same direction, with the same objective: to prepare players for the first team.

Based on last Mondays El Classico, the people behind Barcelona's youth Academy are certainly working in the same direction.