Boggs looks back on a better time, when people looked forward to Jose Mourinho opening his mouth, and wonders if he’s scuppering the legacy he yearns for.
Back when Jose Mourinho was merely a young scamp plying his trade at Porto, he was a breath of fresh air. Their Champions League winning run was not only fantastic for it’s underdog storyline, but because of its charismatic leader who took on, defeated, then wound up Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United with a brashness that we hadn’t quite seen before.
As football fan, I was hooked on his bravado and insults spoken in the perfect level of English – just good enough for you to understand him, but broken enough that you couldn’t quite tell if he was being sarcastic. As a Tottenham supporter, I wanted him to show up at White Hart Lane, punch David Pleat in the bollocks, and drag my club back to the glory days. But of course, he didn’t. Because we’re Tottenham. Still, I thought he would at least shake up the Premiership, given Sir Alex and Arsene a bit of a scare and add some fresh entertainment value. This man was going to change the league.
Two years on, my attitude has changed. The same traits that were so endearing and genuine now seem forced and bitter. The admirable confidence has turned to unnecessary and attention-seeking arrogance, the endless pointless feuds with other managers for the silliest of reasons. And the moaning, oh good lord the moaning! He was first hailed for his famed match preparations and dossiers, but his post-match analysis of every way Chelsea has been wronged is now far more notorious. And that’s even when they win.
His latest bout of delusional paranoia has led him to believe Chelsea players are “unfairly” receiving bookings in the Champions League that other Premiership sides do not. Mourinho is a smart man, so surely the concept of all teams not being equal doesn’t escape him – his Porto team famously used every dirty trick in the book and now we’re meant to believe there’s a larger conspiracy? So what is it? More pointless mind games? Another tired attempt to build a siege mentality within his squad?
Sadly, at this rate Mourinho will not be remembered in football history as his achievements deserve. Not because he isn’t talented (he proved that at Porto) and not because of Abramovich’s millions (well, ok maybe a little bit), but because football has always been about more than simply trophies. It’s why we bleed for clubs that haven’t won sh*t all in decades, why Newcastle and Tottenham continue to fill their stadiums, and why we idolise players simply for showing any hint of loyalty to our clubs. Of course plenty of managers have been brash in the past and seen as greats, but can you imagine us seeing Jose the same way if this continues acting like this for another 5 years, 10 years?
Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger will go down in history as greats for their achievements with Manchester United and Arsenal because, despite the occasional media outburst, they always understood the importance of letting their football do the talking. And sometimes pizza.
But how will Mourinho be remembered?