Jose Mourinho is either lying or he has been fooled by the milkman, because neither the man-child bear-hugging the Chelsea manager during his exuberant celebration after defeating Manchester City nor the red-haired youngster next to him share much of a resemblance to the Portuguese protagonist. Maybe one of these is Mourinho Jr., who’s to say Jose’s son isn’t a supporter of Leitrim GAA like the beaming young fan pictured behind the City bench on Sunday afternoon? However if we take the past into consideration we can cut through the superfluous excuse spewed out of Mourinho’s mouth with Occam’s Razor. The self-anointed Special One had zero interest in celebrating with his son after Fernando Torres capitalised on City’s defensive combustion at Stamford Bridge, his actions were provocative, premeditated and unprofessional; his intent was vintage Mourinho.
For a manager who merges football with the extravagancy of showbiz like no other Sunday was a nadir. Jose ran out of new ideas to shock the audience and reignite the feud with his predecessor at Real Madrid Manuel Pellegrini so he reverted to a stale trick, previously performed at the Bernabeu two seasons ago after a Kaka goal sealed a victory late on over Villareal. Mourinho danced in front of the Yellow Submarines’ bench, emphatically raising his arms at his son who was (supposedly) conveniently located behind their dugout. Repeating his once original antics yesterday was proof that Mourinho just doesn’t do effortless irritation as gloriously as he used to.
Mourinho’s managerial career began with a lie in Portugal. During a meeting with the Porto board in January 2002 the then 38 year old dazzled his future employers by narrating a detailed slide-show he had created highlighting the vision and philosophy he promised to bring to the provincial powerhouse were he given the keys at the club.
Under Mourinho the club would aspire to win the largest number of titles possible playing an attractive brand of football with a team containing as many home-grown players as possible. As time progressed it became clear the 28 slides were blatant plagiarism, cut from a longer presentation Louis VanGaal gave to the Barcelona board at the beginning of his time in Catalonia, yet the Porto board were unaware of this at the time and fortunately hired Mourinho on the spot.
Once he had got his leg up however, he was never going to stop. Love him or loathe him, the fifty year old is an insanely great manager, pairing exceptional tactical nous with an extraordinary ability to inspire his charges to bring him success.
Samuel Eto’o thanks God for delivering him to Mourinho at Inter Milan, while the Portuguese carefully caressed Zlatan Ibrahimovic with silk gloves, creating a symbiotic relationship between the pair where Zlatan would get the goals and “be prepared to die” for his boss, while Jose would get the glory. Mourinho is obsessed with two things; success and his image, how he is perceived. At Real Madrid he insisted on sitting in seat D10 on away journeys in the Champions League as Real attempted to finally win La Decima (10th European Cup).
Rationally, any fan of any team would cherish Mourinho at their club as he comes with inevitable success. However sport isn’t the most rational sphere of human activity. Greece succeeding in Euro 2004, Liverpool fans thinking “I don’t speak to blacks” is a term of endearment, that Newcastle fan punching a horse; none of those things should happen (actually, maybe the last one should).
Ethically you could make a case for never wanting to see the man at the helm of your club. As Mourinho announced at his unveiling as Real Madrid manager he comes on his terms: “I arrive with all my qualities and my defects." His qualities have been mentioned already, his defects? Well, there’s a strong case to be made that the sole display of class during his career has been when he wished Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova well in his recovery from cancer. While a noble act, it’s not too idealistic to have taken this as a given.
Events like the previous eye-gouging incident with Vilanova and his contribution to the death-threats which led to Anders Frisk’s retirement have not only sabotaged Mourinho’s reputation but also his cv. Football-wise he tends to leave a trail of scorched earth behind him following his definite three-year stay at clubs, a trait unlikely to go unnoticed by clubs searching for a stable and successful marriage. After years of public courting Jose was ignored this summer when the one job he felt destined for became available.
Jose Mourinho’s first clash with Alex Ferguson at Chelsea in August 2004 resulted in a 1-0 victory but also a rather forced admission of inferiority: "I told Mr. Ferguson that United didn't deserve to leave Stamford Bridge with nothing." Jose Mourinho’s last clash with Alex Ferguson resulted in a 2-1 victory but also another rather forced admission of inferiority: “The best team lost”.
Bobby Charton and the powers that be at United didn’t take the bait. “He pontificates too much for my liking” claimed Charlton, as well as suggesting ‘Mr. Ferguson’ wasn’t as fond of his peer as had been suggested and stating a United manager would never act like the man publicly whoring himself to the red half of Manchester.
Wounded, he has returned to the Premier League under the guise of ‘The Happy One’ but make no mistake, this is Special One v2, inspired by rejection and fuelled with the bitterness of a teenage girl whose best friend pulled the county centre-back behind her back. There will be even more arrogance, every word will be loaded with political meaning and aimed at a particular target; every action will want to have been seen.
The Prodigal Son has returned having seemingly seen the light, his new aversion to diving and cynical fouls reinforced by his love for the Red Rose of England. "Some foreign players when they come to England still keep their culture and it's a disgrace you do that to a person”. Even time-wasting is treated with contempt: ”you pay your ticket and every time the game stops you have to wait about half a minute? That is a waste of money. That’s not funny. Not in England”.
Jose Mourinho can survive on lies, if anything lies are essential to his being. However the first sign of terminal decline is telling the same lie twice, and this red flag has been raised after just nine games of the season.