There has been a gathering anti-Mourinho swell as the season comes to its conclusion. People seem to be getting fed up with him. The charmless threat to undermine the integrity of the Premier League by fielding a weakened team at Anfield on Sunday but the latest example of the manner in which he is said to have soured the wider discourse with his endless grumpiness.
The whinging about referees, the complaints that everyone in authority is out to get him, the manner in which the excuse is always primed early: there have already been a good number of opinion pieces suggesting that because of his surly manner this season, English football would be better off without him. Good riddance. Go away.
To which I say: never. It is impossible to grow weary of Jose. Everything he says is a source of unremitting delight. And no, I am not engaging the sarcasm button. Without him the football world would be a much, much less colourful place. Imagine for a moment if every football manager behaved like Manuel Pelligrini. Honest, decent, dignified maybe. But dull, dull, dull.
Besides, there is a simple solution if you find Mourinho a little grating: don’t take him seriously. Once you accept he is a comedy figure, that this is all a satirical act, then there is absolutely no cause to complain. Just sit back and snigger.
Take the conspiracy theory he has been spinning about how the Premier League is deliberately standing in the way of Chelsea progress. Not remotely threatening, not remotely destabilising, not remotely shrill; just hilarious. The idea of Richard Scudamore behaving like a Bond villain, secreted in some underground lair, stroking a white cat as he plots Chelsea’s demise is a magnificent comic creation.
Of course, as there should be in a proper conspiracy theory, there is a measure of plausibility about Mourinho’s. The truth is, he is right that in other leagues the clubs in the final throes of European competition are gifted more convenient schedules. Bayern Munich, for instance, will play on a Friday night giving them 40 hours more rest than Chelsea ahead of their second leg.
“The fact that the match is on Sunday,” Mourinho said of the Liverpool fixture, “I think puts the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be on Sunday and not Saturday or Friday. We represent English football and are the only team in European competitions. Spain has four and gave them all the conditions to try to have success.”
Don’t blame him if he has to bend the rules: it is all the fault of others who should know better.
There is just one problem with his insistence that someone at the Premier League is out to get him: Chelsea, like all the clubs in the division, benefit enormously from the competition’s international television appeal. If the club did not want to enjoy the financial returns of kick offs coordinated for Far Eastern markets then they are perfectly entitled to insist on change. If they want to play Friday night, missing out on prime time in Singapore, they should lobby for it. After all, whatever Mourinho’s picture of it, the Premier League is not Scudamore’s plaything; it is nothing more than an amalgam of those clubs who happen to be in it. Since they make the rules, they can change them whenever they wish. No-one is imposing anything on Chelsea. Don’t take the cheques and play when you want.
As for referees, well I admit I am struggling to see where there is a conspiracy among them. What possible benefit could there be to Mike Riley instructing his underlings to misinterpret the rules every time Chelsea is involved in a game? For a conspiracy theory to work, there has to be a plausible motive. The worldwide Jewish conspiracy, for instance. Ludicrous and laughable as it is, there is a measure of plausibility in the idea of a group of people wanting to control all the world’s sources of power and business. There is a point to that, a reason to get plotting. But how would Mike Riley profit from Liverpool winning the league rather than Chelsea? Surely the more likely rationale behind Mike Dean’s performance last Saturday was incompetence. As in everything, the only principle that properly explains the world is surely the cock-up theory.
That, of course, would not fit Mourinho’s world view. This is a man who has made his fortune from selling the idea that everything can be controlled, everything can be managed. Randomness is not something to which he can possibly subscribe without undermining the very point of his profession.
He prefers the idea that everything is planned. So when it goes wrong – when he loses at home to the bottom club, for instance – he has to promulgate the belief that someone, somewhere must be controlling what is going on. So off he scurries, in the search for evidence.
The fact is, if he wasn’t a football manager, Mourinho is the sort who would be on his laptop night and day consulting websites which link the Kennedy assassination to the fake moon landings. Once you realise that, once you realise that he is actually bonkers, then everything he says is not so much a threat as comedy gold. Stop grumbling about him, just sit back and enjoy.
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League