JOSE MOURINHO says he was not surprised by Germany’s defeat by Japan at the World Cup because “the team is the most important thing” in Asia, whereas “in European football there is a big focus on the individual, a big focus on egos.”

Japan came back from a goal down at half-time to win the Group E game 2-1. It was widely described as a shock result, but not by Mourinho, who was speaking from Tokyo during Roma’s tour of Japan.

“To be honest, was not a crazy surprise,” he said. “Japan is a good team, has good players, is getting an accumulation of experience at these events.

“The majority of the players they play in Europe, where they develop faster and understand better what is the high level game.

“And I think the mentality of the players and the team can make also a difference. I think at this moment in European football there is a big focus on the individual, a big focus on egos.

“I never coached Japanese players but I coached Asian players, in my case I was lucky because I coached the best Asian player (Son Heung-min at Tottenham) and I understand that the mentality is really special. The team is the most important thing. People play for the team, they don’t play for themselves.”

Interestingly, Germany General Manager Oliver Bierhoff has previously acknowledged this emphasis on the individual in European football, describing the modern elite player as an “independent entrepreneur” - and said this should be embraced.

“The new generation does not just want to execute, they want to shape things themselves, understand them and tackle challenges,” he said back in September 2017.

“For young people especially, we can provide them with individual help in conceptional and structural areas. For example we can help young players find their own personal career path in the national team.

“But players are also individuals. There are some players with whom you can conduct tough analyses and give very clear instructions, while with others this needs to happen in a gentler, more personable manner.

“Every team member has their own plan and individual career. If you are in an ambitious department, every member will also want to follow their own path. You’re all working towards a common goal, but everyone also has their own plan. A football team works like a business unit.

“Professional soccer players are a kind of independent entrepreneur and have to think about the path they’re taking, even during their active career. Are they going to hire a chef or physiotherapist? How are they going to position themselves in their personal marketing? How do they organise their private life?

“Getting out of their own surroundings and meeting other young entrepreneurs who are taking a risk and have their own convictions is immensely important.”

Bierhoff, who scored the winning goal for Germany in the final of Euro ’96, said things had changed significantly from his time as a player.

“The sum of the details that are lived out constantly creates interesting things and a sustainable change in the team culture,” he said.

“And here the leading players play a decisive role. They must be completely convinced of the vision. Without them it won’t work. Because these players carry and shape the culture too.”

Read more on:

CoachingJapan

More stories

Sign up to our newsletter to get all the latest news from The Guru