Monday 11 December 2017

John Giles: All baby Jose Mourinho ever wanted was to be a player

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

JOSE Mourinho is a big baby. He's the best coach in the Premier League and maybe even the world but I'll bet you a small fortune that his attention seeking is all about one thing.

He wasn't good enough to be a player.

If there was any remaining doubt about the nature of his character and personality, Mourinho duly supplied more evidence at Wembley. There he was,stretched out in front of his winning team, the focus for every camera in the stadium.

While I watched, I tried to imagine Alex Ferguson lining prone on the turf or Matt Busby. Never in a month of Sundays.

Fame is a dangerous thing as anyone who has been exposed to it will tell you quick enough. Well-balanced personalities generally react the same way to it and realise very quickly that it is all nonsense; attractive nonsense perhaps, but still nonsense.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the limelight myself but I could see it for what it was and realised how destructive it could be if you actively sought attention and made yourself a target for it.

It hasn't changed I know that. The hype around George Best was no less intense than the publicity David Beckham has been dealing with throughout his career. The difference now is scale.

Best was overwhelmed by his notoriety but Beckham used it cleverly and has built a financial empire out of it. But both of them saw it for the first time when they were teenagers.

My assertion is that Mourinho didn't meet fame until he was a manager. He never got the chance to score the winning goal in the Cup final and he was never adored by men, women and children for what he did on a football pitch.

As he grew up in the game, he was perpetually on the sideline, a clip-board and bottle carrier learning his trade among the men who were living the dream he wanted so badly.

When he drove Porto to an unlikely and brilliant Champions League win, we remember it not for the work his players did but for his ludicrous and classless gallop up the touchline at Old Trafford in the semi-final and the image of him throwing his winners medal into the crowd.

He wanted to be a player. He wanted to receive the adulation they received and he made absolutely sure that he was front and centre for the cameras and consequently, the archives.

Everything he has done as a manager since, all the brilliant things he has done, has been diluted by this immature and profoundly stupid need to capture for a himself a chunk of the glory.

He doesn't seem to understand that the act of successful management in itself is glorious. Alex Ferguson used the media cleverly and eventually became so powerful that he could control it as well as any manager I've seen but he didn't need to cavort in front of a dugout after every trophy win to prove to the world that he was a genius. Results spoke loudly enough.

Which brings me to the substance of this article. Mourinho doesn't need to seek our attention. He already has it.

Football men and women look at his ability and give him all the credit he desires. Nobody would deny his ability to lead men and nobody can argue with his record.

We get it Jose, you're a great manager. You don't have to keep telling us that you are.

The darker side to his behaviour is something much worse than simple attention seeking. It is as if he has no boundary and will lash out, like a petulant child, when he's not getting his way.

The area which has been a rich vein of material for Mourinho's dark side is the ever more bitter argument over referees, bad decisions and technology.

Mourinho mines the grey area which requires that the English FA hides behind the infallibility of referees. It would be so easy to shine a light in the gloom and cut out a whole chunk of hypocrisy which is ruining football.

In the last few days, we have seen Steve Bruce, a good lad who I think everyone would have time for, talking absolute rubbish about the tackle which opened up Stephen Ireland's leg. It's the same line of self-serving foolishness which Mourinho constantly uses.

Maynor Figueroa deserved a straight red for his tackle and everyone saw that except the referee. The disciplinary panel saw it too I'm sure but they could do nothing retrospectively because Neil Swarbrick had made a decision and it was infallible.

Golf, tennis, rugby, cricket, American football, baseball and on and on goes the list of big sports more than happy to take pressure off their very fallible referees but not football. We muddle along.

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