"What do you mean you've hurt 'your' knee, it's Liverpool's knee" - Bill Shankly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why Only England Can Tolerate Jose Mourinho

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He branded himself 'A Special One' in his very first PC after being appointed coach of English Football Club, Chelsea mid-2004 and we instinctively warmed up to the man whose celebratory sprint down the touchline at Old Trafford in 2004 had initially introduced him to the British public—an act that had brought a sly smile to every non-United fan's face.

The contrast between Jose Mourinho's popularity in England and Italy has been as stark as it gets.

The English tabloids 'dim-wittedly' fell for him, while the more sophisticated Italians have been left scratching their heads wondering what is so special about this Portuguese who seems more of a 'Lusitanian bluff', a term generously coined by Italian Football buffs.

So why are most of the British public and EPL fans so enthralled by this living, breathing and walking fulfilment of arrogance from Portugal? 

What exactly do they see in him which evidently no other League has managed to?

Throughout his successful three year stint with the Premier League Club, Mourinho's behavior had been more than slightly unhinged.
 
Whether it be shushing on Anfield's face, claiming that Arsene Wenger was a ‘voyeur’, the '"I am invisible" talk to cops (for the uninitiated—he prevented animal welfare officials from putting his beloved Yorkshire Terrier dog into quarantine), hiding in the dressing Room and escaping via a laundry bin during a match he had been banned from.

He used an 'eggs in the waitrose' metaphor to explain his footballing style, snubbed compatriot and Manchester United winger, Christiano Ronaldo by labelling him 'a liar' (undeniably, there is a bit of credibility here), this and more added to the ' whistle and whistle, cheat and cheat' blast at the Red Devils post their high profile Carling Cup SF(2005) clash — the man had come off as an extremely eccentric bloke who seemed to possess an endearing sense of mischief. 

When he was around, the pot was not just boiling—it was ready to spill.

Indeed there always was a vocal group, though by a long way only a minority, that disliked his pragmatic style not to mention that maddening haughtiness of the steely-eyed football fizz.

But ask yourself—didn't most of you enjoy it all, if only silently?

He would make it a requisite to catch his post-match conferences, which would delight the usually dull week separating the League clashes.

The supremely confident man was Colourful and Charismatic, Controversial and Candid, Committed and ultimately—borderline Crazy. 

And the biggest mouth in Football apparently has so much savvy sex-appeal that in 2006, Mourinho was voted the sixth sexiest man in the world by readers of Brit New Woman magazine.  

Right, this George Clooney look-alike is one item of a Footballing manager. 

And in England, packages like this are begging to become the 'Show of the country.'

The English public couldn't wait to start wooing the pepper-salt haired Portuguese—he had been a blast of fresh air into the League which had always been wanting of bravado.

Fellow managers loved him—*cough* but of course they did! Who would talk about and scrutinise them when Mr Bombastic was around, who seemingly revelled being soaked with limelight.

Because bad Publicity is still publicity.

As has been widely acknowledged, English football has certainly seemed duller since Chelsea made the mistake by letting him leave by “mutual consent” in 2007. 

So charisma, confidence and lunacy - all in all, a winning combination in English land. 

Ah, the irony of it all..don't we love nutters?

But all has not gone well in Italy. 

Since setting foot in Italy and having learnt Italian in just three weeks to get along with the media—something he claims was a show of 'respect', at the Nerazzuri he has appeared everything he didn't while in England. 

Unnecessarily loud-mouthed, incredibly disrespectful, uncharmingly childish, invariably irritating and most importantly quite 'ordinary'.

His boastfulness and arrogance has not appeared endearing at all to the Italian public, whether he twinkles his eyes notwithstanding and over the last few months, he has made more enemies than friends.

As result, he has fallen out with everyone—picking fights with Ancelotti, Claudio Ranieri, Donadoni, Galliani, Luciano Spalletti, Maldini, Pietro Lo Monaco, Buffon (Gosh! You name them) one after the other or rather, all at the same time.

To elucidate on his many war of words with different rival managers will be a waste of time—mine and yours, but the following spat may give the gist. 

After Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri claimed that  "unlike Mourinho I don’t need to win to be sure about what I am doing," the Portuguese blasted back in his trademark style saying that "Ranieri was right, I do need to win things to be sure of what I am doing.

"That’s why I've won so many trophies. By contrast, he has the mentality that winning isn’t crucial and at nearly 70 years old* he's just won a Super Cup and other small tournaments. He is too old to change his mentality.”

Apparently, the in-depth analysis in the culture-rich and respect demanding (especially for age) Italian Football is more intelligent and demanding of being 'becoming' than in England.

And Mourinho doesn't seem to appreciate this.

In fact, he has seemed more than a bit of an intolerable brat to the Italians, who cannot wait to see his back.

Evidently the scathing Italians seem to agree with Volker Roth, the over-exuberant chairman of UEFA’s referees committee, who once branded Mourinho ‘The Enemy of Football’.

Clearly, for Jose, widely known for his strong personality and quirky comments at press conferences, things have not been 'Jolly Good' for once at Inter Milan.

There can be no doubt about his calibre as a Coach. He is a class apart in every way when it comes to managerial abilities and has been widely recognised as Top Draw. 

At shoestring budget, he took the hardly celebrated FC Porto to European victory beating out richer, stronger opponents en route. And of course his achievements at Chelsea are well familiar to EPL fans. 

Since 2003, he has racked up more than a dozen trophies but Jose's his phenomenal run as a coach is even more well reflected in the 110 home games unbeaten in all competitions since 23rd February 2002 and his enviable 71 percent in ALL competitions since joining Porto. 

More importantly, the players of his Club, wherever he goes, always love him because he is the man who demands respect for them, protects them with his singular antics. 

But at the end of the day, that is that.

He is the Fabio Capello league - he will possibly win more than most contemporaries, but will never have the legacy that a Sir Alex Ferguson or an Arsene Wenger will leave. 

To the England Footballing passionates he may be like Gold Dust, but in almost every other country he goes, people cannot wait to wipe the dust off.


*In fact, Ranieri is 56 years old.


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Defying belief however, is a market Benitez has cornered quite well. The moment you think Benitez is clueless, he defies it by pulling off a result of majesty, like the one achieved in Madrid. The moment he is hailed a genius, he masterminds toothless surrender to a team going nowhere. In the ongoing Anfield power struggle, just when he was cornered by the firing squad, the Spaniard's demise at Liverpool looking practically assured with the ominous suspension of betting by the bookmakers, he squeezes out through a narrow trapdoor and eliminates Rick Parry. Rafa Benitez is Keyzer Soze.
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