Its time to give the ‘Special One’ the credit he deserves and for those who have formed a grudge to start seeing sense.
There will be those who will state with far too much conviction that Inter Milan’s triumph over Barcelona was ‘ugly’ and not in keeping with the spirit of the game. Some will argue that Barcelona ‘deserved’ to be in the final in Madrid next month. Hell there will even be those who believe that the Serie A side employed negative tactics that amounted to a form of ‘cheating’.
Let me tell you that all those make such statements are not just incorrect but they are also simply jumping on bandwagons that have happily followed Jose wherever he has laid his managerial hat (if indeed he ever did wear one, lets say this particular form of head wear is metaphorical).
Let me first say that I am a huge supporter of the manner in which Barcelona play the game. I salivate as much as the next man when the likes of Messi or Xavi are conjuring up some mouthwatering bit of footballing brilliance. However I am also partial to a good example of tactical nous such as that served up by Jose Mourinho at the Nou Camp last night.
In many ways the early sending off, undeserved as it was, of Thiago Motta made a fairly straightforward gameplan all the bit easier to swallow. The former Chelsea man had laid out his Inter Milan player like pieces on a Chess game and merely invited Barcelona to prove they were good enough to break them down and score the two goals needed to lead them to the promised land. It was an invitation they could manage to fulfill.
Whilst Barcelona ran out of ideas an Internazionale grew in confidence. A side with far less world beaters than their opposition the Italian title holders were more of a team than the Catalan side can ever hope to be. The amount of effort and determination exuded by the men in white was immense. Whatever Barca through at them was repelled with relative ease for the best part of 90 minutes.
Of course Inter Milan were never going to score. That was never their objective. Anyone espousing the opinion that only one team wanted to win over the 90 minutes yesterday was correct but only because the San Siro side had done what they needed to do last week and turned up with their heads held high and had the attitude of a team who knew the whole world, outside one half of the city of Milan, was against them.
Jose Mourinho knows how to play mind games. He knows how to turn adversity into an advantage. He knows how to take every little ounce of negativity that has been flung at him and his side and throw it back with interest.
I can understand those who barrack the ever so modest Portuguese playboy for his ego and his bravado, even those are part and parcel of the persona he deliberately creates to give his sides even more of an edge. What I can not fathom, or indeed stand, are those who question his abilities as a manager and coach. And believe me there are those who truly are so backward as to make such a case, I know because I have met them and beat a hasty retreat once doing so.
This is a man who has done it all. He has won trophies at clubs he was never supposed to succeed at, he has won trophies whilst at clubs where he was expected to do so. His time at Inter Milan will forever be measured against past successes the club has had. Clearly there is only so much you will get credit for when you take over at a club who has won the domestic title the three previous seasons before your arrival.
He attracts critics the way some collect stamps. His critics take many forms. They come from the field of punditry, from ex-professionals and journalists who should know better. He has critics among his own circle of managers and coaches who appear to find him vain and arrogant. There are hoardes of opposing supporters who are sickened by the mere sight of the man. Hell there are probably a host of players who have been in his charge who haven’t got a good word to say about the man. However he gets on with it and turns this envy to his advantage as best he can.
However to have taken Inter Milan to their first European Cup/Champions League final since 1972 is an achievement even the most vehement haters of the ‘Special One’ will have to give him some credit for. If its true that in order to really excel in your field then you will in turn create anger and resentment from those who’s success is threatened by yours then expect Mourinho to garner far more friends than enemies before he hangs up his managerial hat (there’s that hat again) and for Jose to merely enjoy the hate as much as love because he is clearly a man who was born to prove people wrong.