Thursday 18 January 2018

Derby date to bring out devil inside of Jose

When José Mourinho was appointed custodian of Bobby Charlton's holy of holies, Old Trafford's greatest living legend had reason to raise his eyes to the sky and offer a prayer for his beloved club.

Mourinho came with more baggage than an airline carousel, much of it recent and particularly disgraceful.

Charlton clearly didn't fancy him. He said as much.

So far, though, José has been a bit of a pussycat. He even got a tour of the ground from Charlton himself. Gritted teeth mode for Jack's brother.

On our back page today, we have Zlatan Ibrahimovic's agent ripping into Pep Guardiola and throwing some manly abuse in his direction.

There was a time when Mourinho himself would have delivered that kind of broadside and an awful lot worse.

Now he has proxies who do it for him.

For nine months, and helped by people like Bedy Moratti, sister of Inter Milan owner Massimo, Mourinho's name was linked constantly with Manchester United while Louis van Gaal turned on a spit.


The theme continues with super agent Mino Raiola's full-frontal verbal assault claiming Guardiola has "no balls".

The only question now is how long can Mourinho stick to his role as The Quiet One? How long before he returns to type and adds a few new chapters to his weighty archive of inglorious moments?

Particular lowlights were his nasty branding of Arsene Wenger as a voyeur and those with long memories will remember the number he did on Swedish referee Anders Frisk, forced to quit a glittering career early, afraid, quite literally, for his life.

But it was his manic rant against Chelsea first-team doctor Eva Carneiro which crossed from football into the wider world, with accusations of sexism.

His treatment of Carneiro proved costly, as she took a constructive dismissal and sex discrimination cases against the club and Mourinho respectively, which were settled out of court.

Before that, the Portuguese was the kind of powerful, assertive man who attracts attention from the opposite sex. After, he was the man who attacked that poor doctor.

Football forgives sins like that very quickly. Fans will accept almost anybody as manager and accept almost any kind of behaviour if he delivers on his job specification.

But this was so crass that his time at Chelsea had to end and the debate centred around how long he would spend in purgatory or whether he would ever be employable again by a big club.

Manchester United eventually sucked up the courage and signed him.

So far, there has been no huge outpouring of love for Mourinho from the stands.

He tested their patience by demanding more noise at home games and got a response. Winning helps.

He has delivered big names and three wins in a row without a hint of any sideshow drama, so the faithful cannot be unhappy with his first 100 days.

That mark passed on Sunday last in the middle of the international break and it went by unnoticed, a reflection of the care Mourinho has taken to avoid any overt toe-stepping.


But the man may not be able to help himself this weekend. The manager he faces tomorrow at Old Trafford stands between him and the status as top football coach in the world.

Worse than that, he has the same buying power and resides at a stadium in the same city.

In other words, this is a Manchester derby with so much spice that they might need some fire-hoses before it's all over.

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