Through Gritted Teeth #3: José Mourinho

April 29, 2011 § 7 Comments

Jose Mourinho waves. The camera cries.

(c) Richard Swarbrick 2011

by Callum Hamilton

I’m a Manchester United fan, and I did most of my pretending to grow up in the 90s. The ’99 team is of course my favourite. It’s fabled, rightly, for it’s gung-ho attacking spirit, quantity of home-grown players, and refusal to respect any opposition, no matter how illustrious. So why, then, did I also have a fondness for José Mourinho?

At Chelsea, he led a despicable team of unlikeable 2-0 peddlers that had been assembled through vast and ill-gotten wealth to win trophies for an unworthy club which I have never liked. And yet, as Ferguson approaches retirement, I am moved to consider him as the likely replacement, and suggest that it might, in one way, recapture those golden years. It all goes back to Roy Keane, you see.

There’s been something missing at United since Keane’s departure. Our midfield has never been the same, but this has been as much down to a change in tactics. But Keane was something other than a brilliant passer and inspirational captain who worked like a trojan. He had a blackness to him — a dark side more vast than that of the moon, a horrible streak that would act as a double-edged sword, United’s most fearsome weapon and greatest liability. It was dangerous, it was reckless, and it was wonderfully exciting. Without such a terrible underlying aura, United are not only a weaker team, but less fun to support. Ferguson is hardly a saint, but Mourinho is capable of recreating the slight whiff of the nether about us.

Somehow, he was never a true hate figure at United. His refusal to get along with other managers was amusing, and he always held a respect for us, whilst subjecting the likes of Wenger to much-deserved broadsides. He was sinister, a master of the dark arts, yet much of it was ultimately harmless — the UEFA ban antics spring to mind. He had flair and flamboyance, and a dark streak, which is all to be respected and enjoyed in the sterile, dull world of football.

The criticism of Mourinho about his negativity and reliance on wealth is not overwhelmingly substantiated. He’s a winner, and he knows how to set up a team to stop another, and so will use that tactic if he’s faced with a superior opponent. He’s been hamstrung slightly in his whole career — Porto were playing in a small league. He had Abramovich to deal with at Chelsea. Inter brought more politics and less money. Real had the money, but not all of it within his control, and yet more politics, a team that was steeped in a culture detrimental to effectively playing against top-class opposition, and some unfeasibly good opposition in Barcelona.

But who cares. It all comes down to this: he’s a sinister, handsome fucker, and he’s good at his job. And what more can you ask for than that?

Callum Hamilton is angrier than you and is always right. He is also one-third of Surreal Football. Follow him on Twitter @callumth1.

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§ 7 Responses to Through Gritted Teeth #3: José Mourinho

  • RoM Reads says:

    […] Twisted Blood looked the pros and cons of Mourinho’s appointment before his game against Barcelona. […]

  • A very well written piece but I’ll never forgive him for having a pop and lying through his teeth about the response rates of the Royal Berkshire ambulance service!

    There can be a few better managers than him in the game and his masterminding of the defensive masterclass that saw Inter edge Barcelona out of the Champions League last year was brilliant.

    But there are plenty of other managers who have had this level of talent and yet have behaved with dignity and sportsmanship. Peter Conrad’s Guardian article about Mourinho’s links to his country’s far right past is also illuminating: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2006/feb/19/features.review37

    • twistedblood says:

      From memory (and I could easily be wrong) he later apologised for the ambulance thing and claimed he’d been given duff information.

      That article is fascinating, if perhaps a touch speculative in places. There’s a book waiting to be written about the similarities between football managers and dictators …

  • Callum says:

    Interesting comments, LR. Was unaware of either his far-right links or his criticism of the Royal Berkshire ambulance service. Evidently I have some reading to do.

  • waro says:

    No Mou for me. He’s playing style is boring. From Porto to Real, especially in Chelsea.

  • As Andrew suggests, the article about the far right links is speculative in places but it doesn’t help me like Mourinho more. As for the ambulance thing, fair enough if he apologised – peoepl who know me that I am unhealthily obsessed with that Reading v Chelsea match where Petr Cech got injured.

  • D. Devil's Advocate says:

    Sorry, I can’t see how being a pompous, self-absorbed twat makes him worthy of respect. The postgame comments about Barca were just paranoid and childish, and while that’s admittedly a difficult double, just paints him as a whiner who tosses the toys out his pram anytime things don’t go his way. If you find that entertaining, I’m sure there are plenty of day-care centers within easy driving distance.

    The Devil would also like to inform you all that this Jose prick isn’t nearly hard enough to make it in his army.

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