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Rui Faria – Jose Mourinho’s right-hand man

Often pictured scowling next to Jose Mourinho in the dugout, Rui Faria joined Mourinho at Uniao de Leiria in 2000, and the two have been working together ever since. Mourinho’s most trusted assistant, Faria has worked with Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Mila, Real Madrid, and now Manchester United.

Speaking about Faria in the summer of 2015, Mourinho said that if he were ever in a position to ever choose his replacement or successor, it wouldn’t be a tough choice.

“But if one day I have to choose my successor, if you want to use that, the one that I really feel thinks like me, is adapted to my way of lead, he’s adapted to my way of coaching, he’s the one with more similarities with me even in some traces of personality, is my assistant, Rui Faria.”

The two men both have fiery tempers, similar outlooks on football, and neither played football at the highest level. Faria has held different roles throughout his time with Mourinho, including fitness coach, video coordinator, and assistant manager, the title Faria currently holds at Manchester United.

Like Mourinho, Faria is no stranger to controversy with the match officials. Sometimes referred to as Mourinho’s ‘attack dog’, Faria can often be seen badgering the fourth official on the touchline. During a defeat to Sunderland in 2014, which ended Mourinho’s Premier League unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge along with Chelsea’s title hopes, Faria was sent to the stands and later given a six-match ban for a fiery exchange with match official Mike Dean after Sunderland were awarded a late penalty.

This season, following a 0-0 draw with Burnley, Faria sarcastically praised match official Mark Clattenburg during the post-match conference, saying“I just want to say, fantastic work from the referee.” Mourinho finished the game in the director’s box as Ander Herrera was sent off and several penalty decisions went against United.

Faria has also worked on behalf of Mourinho to keep players happy. Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho had their differences during Mourinho’s time at Real Madrid, and it was Faria who apparently acted as the middleman.

Speaking ahead of his return to United this summer, Andreas Pereira said the Faria texted him from time to time to check in on his loan spell with Granada.

“[Assistant manager] Rui Faria sometimes sends me messages and asks how it is going. He contacted me to say I scored a good goal and I am happy when I get recognised for doing good things and to know that they’re watching.”

Faria has many of the traits Mourinho wants to see from his players: tenacity, desire, a strong work ethic, and loyalty. Perhaps the last trait, loyalty, being the most important as Faria has never explored his own management career. He has stuck with Mourinho through the good and bad. When Mourinho has been out of a job (both times he left Chelsea), Faria has been out of work too.

It takes a certain level of sacrifice to be an assistant manager, especially those who follow around a manager from club to club like Faria does with Mourinho. It is not uncommon. Paul Clement has worked with Carlo Ancelotti at several clubs. Manel Estiarte, a former water polo star, has worked with Pep Guardiola since the Spaniard took over Barcelona’s B team.

Some aren’t cut out for it, as the desire to the top guy is too much. After one year in the Old Trafford dugout, one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best assistants, Carlos Queiroz, spent a season at Real Madrid before returning to Old Trafford to aid Ferguson for another four seasons, ending with a Champions League triumph in 2008. Many of Mourinho’s former disciples, including Brendan Rogers, Andre Villas-Boas and Marco Silva, have forged their own management paths to varying success. Paul Clement has left Carlo Ancelotti’s side to manage different clubs, most recently leaving Bayern Munich to help Swansea City stay in the English top flight.

Faria’s relationship with Mourinho is a stark contrast to that of Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal. It is no secret Ryan Giggs had (has) managerial ambitions of his own, as well as different views on how United should be playing football. Not surprisingly, Van Gaal and Giggs never appeared to have the same chemistry as Mourinho and Faria do (some wonder if they’re related).

Mourinho trusts Faria to go after officials, keep the players happy, and to keep the players fit. Faria appears to have the same passion and desire to win that Mourinho tries to instill in his players. After winning the Europa League, Mourinho said it is time for his players to take the next step and develop a winning mentality.

“For me what’s more difficult is the fragile mentality… I think it’s probably my weakness as a manager, that it’s difficult for me to understand people with a different mentality to what I have. Sometimes I ask my assistants to help me on that because maybe they have a different profile to me.”

One of those assistants knows more than anyone what Mourinho wants from his players. While he doesn’t get much press (unless Faria gets himself sent to the stands again), Faria has a big role to play next season in helping Jose Mourinho make his players into an army of tough, resilient attack dogs, ready for an assault on the Premier League.

Written by Peter Flanagan

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