Why Mourinho is not the enemy of football

Football world guilty of taking Portuguese coach too seriously after rant that followed Champions League defeat.

Mourinho’s record suggests that he usually has the last laugh on his critics [GALLO/GETTY]

After his rant against Barcelona, UEFA and UNICEF (and anyone else he could think of at the time) on Wednesday, Jose Mourinho was again labelled “the enemy of football”.

UEFA coined the phrase six years ago while Mourinho was causing mischief as manager of Chelsea.

On Thursday, following the 2-0 European Champions League defeat at the Bernabeu, The Times’ football editor Tony Evans wrote a piece that backed up their sentiment.

“On this fractious night, Mourinho shed many of his admirers,” Evans wrote.

“The myopic lack of reason has gone too far to be balanced by his skills.”

Supposedly Mourinho had tarnished the beautiful game of football once more by letting his unusually large ego prevent him from acting in a proper manner. You know, the proper manner we expect from managers and footballers… 

In those crucial minutes Mourinho and his players were given to “calm down” after the match – which gave Real a daunting task if they are to reach the Champions League final – Mourinho plotted what he would say to the awaiting media.

Growl and hiss

He couldn’t simply tell the Real Madrid fans he had failed. On this occasion, attack was the best form of defence. So instead of entering a discussion about the error of his ways and the weaknesses of his team, Mourinho decided to growl and hiss at the wrongs of the world.

And thank goodness he did. We have come to think of Mourinho as an entertainer just as much as a football manager.

Mourinho’s top trophies

 Champions League: 2  Premier League: 2
 Italian Serie A: 2
 UEFA Cup: 1
 English FA Cup: 1
 Spanish Copa del Rey: 1
 Portugal Primeira Liga: 2
 Coppa Italia: 1

 English League Cup: 2

At Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid

From his patronising thumbs-up to the referee following Pepe’s dismissal to his pouting grimace accompanied with sarcastic hand claps, drama boils in Mourinho’s blood, and it is a pleasure for us more reserved English to see. 

Football must be important to him but one suspects the enigmatic Portuguese’s sense of humour and sublime acting abilities drive many of his actions.

Mourinho is drawn to attention the same way Lionel Messi is drawn to the Real Madrid goal.

The only thing Mourinho cares about when he pushes his toys out the pram is that the world is watching, and listening. He could stomach not being the best manager in the world (just), but we suspect that for Mourinho being ignored would be far worse.

The words of accusation he threw around after the game were enough to ensure the media’s attention was split between Mourinho and Barcelona, despite Messi’s magic. The former Porto manager doesn’t care a jot about being an honourable and self-effacing leader, he is far too sophisticated for the likes of that.

For many outsiders, the self-appointed ‘Special One’ is the epitome of arrogance and ugliness.

He is a man with undoubted talent but one who believes he is never wrong.

However, Mourinho is more a blessing than an enemy to the game. We should be relieved he doesn’t modestly doff his cap to his opponents when beaten. There should be no space for cap-doffing in football.


In fact, there should be minimal space allowed for modesty or weakness when it comes to the sport. High drama is the only way to effectively fill the void a lack of graciousness leaves.  

Stubborn and arrogant managers don’t destroy football, they make football. People wouldn’t have such respect for Mourinho if he showed the insecurities most of us cough up at the earliest opportunity.

United boss Ferguson has plenty in common with his junior Portuguese counterpart [AFP]

Nor would they stop talking to their friends in the pub to hear his distinctive voice uttering words carefully caressed to cause offense, or at the very least, intrigue.

Football is a game governed by larger than average egos. Men like Mourinho and Alex Ferguson create a fascinating world which football fans lap up in their millions.

The irrational outbursts, ridiculous accusations and flushed faces breathe life into football.

When Ferguson was banned from the touchline following his recent criticism of referee Martin Atkinson he didn’t wave the corner flag of submission. Quite right. He stepped up to the plate and simply stated he had the right to say what he thought, and that what he thought was spot on.

It is no coincidence that two of the last four managers in the Champions League are probably two of the most headstrong men on the planet.
When people criticise the likes of Mourinho, they should be careful not to simplify him or the complex business he finds himself working in. A business that is driven by personalities as well as by results.

Football is far more than the sum of its parts, more than goals and points, semifinals and finals. It is also about humour and character…and how to get out of trouble once you’ve opened your big mouth…again. 

Jose Mourinho has a lot to say for himself (and a lot of rubbish for that matter) but it is his own unique way of dealing with the pressure of football and the humiliation of defeat.

It is UEFA’s job to investigate what Mourinho has said, and the possible implications of him saying it, but I can’t help but think we take Mourinho just a little bit too seriously.

Perhaps on Wednesday night Mourinho did not fall asleep sobbing into a soggy pillow and cursing the evil that runs through UNICEF.

Maybe he fell asleep chuckling at the sound of his own ridiculous words running through his very special mind.

Source: Al Jazeera


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