Jose Mourinho formally introduced himself to the football world and became a huge media figure the moment he raced down that Old Trafford touchline following Costinha’s goal that knocked out Manchester United from the UEFA Champions League in 2004.
When he proclaimed himself to be “the special one” during his first interview after his then club Porto defeated Monaco in the final to lift the cup that was when the media fully realized they are in for a treat with this guy.
What a roller coaster ride it has been, with Jose (as he is fondly called by many) the media always know they’ll get headline material and he very rarely disappoints, an insider friend who works for Chelsea once told me how it’s sometime a jostle to gain entry to a Mourinho press conference due to its impending suspense and drama, interestingly it has always lived up to its billing.
His rivalry with then Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson was ignited with that Porto/United Champions league clash in 2004 and it transcended to the English Premier League when he took over helm of affairs from Claudio Ranieri aka “Tinker man” at Chelsea, his first stint at the club were action packed.
He was able to establish Chelsea as a force to be reckoned with in the scheme of things in the Premier League and Europe (some will argue Abramovich millions played a vital role in that) thereby curtailing the dominance of Manchester United and Arsenal.
With all of that came the player sagas(The infamous William Gallas case readily comes to mind), medals, mind games and intense rivalries, the media found a darling, a no holds barred kind of persona, he says whatever is on his mind.
With Sir Alex Ferguson it was an intense rivalry with a mixture of mutual respect and the usual mind games strategies attached but with his other competitors Arsene Wenger of Arsenal and then Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez he really got to their nerves with his antics and outbursts and the media really benefited from that.
On one of his several spats with Wenger, he said “some clubs are treated as devils, some are treated as angels, I don’t think Arsene Wenger and David Dein are so beautiful that they should be viewed as angels” he said while taunting the Gunners and another famous occasion he posits “Wenger has a real problem with us and I think he is what you call in England a voyeur, he is someone who likes to watch other people, there are some guys who when they are at home have this big telescope to look into the homes of other people and see what is happening, Wenger must be one of them and I think it is a sickness”
I still recall vividly the huge uproar and sports headlines those statements elicited that the FA had to wade in, the media didn’t fail to feast on that too.
During the Carling Cup Final with Liverpool in 2005 he caused another storm by using the “shut your mouth” sign on the Anfield faithful’s and was subsequently sent to the stands for that. Mourinho wasn’t done with Liverpool though, in the same year after the Champions league semi-finals, he had this to say while questioning the validity of Luis Garcia’s goal which knocked Chelsea out of the competition “I felt the power of Anfield, it was magnificent, I felt it, it didn’t interfere with my players but maybe it did with other people and maybe interfered with the result” all those statements established Mourinho as a top box office hit with the media, they wanted headline material and he always gave them that.
England didn’t have monopoly of the frenzy as Europe also got a taste of the action from time to time, with the Barcelona clashes being the most popular. On his first clash with the Catalan giants under Manager Frank Rijkaard he taunted them with “Barcelona is a great club but in 200 years of history, they have won the European Cup once, I have been managing for a few years and I have already won the same amount.”
A Barcelona fan confessed how pained he was by that outburst “it shows a total lack of class and respect,” he reacted angrily.
The most famous Mourinho controversy definitely has to be when he lost to Spanish giants Barcelona in 2006 after being given a touchline ban for an earlier offence, he said “when I saw Frank Rijkaard entering the Referee’s room, I couldn’t believe it and when Didier Drogba was sent off I wasn’t surprised” this generated a massive uproar across the globe, drew a lot of responses, Anders Frisk who refereed the match couldn’t handle the pressure and retired from the game altogether prematurely.
Following his departure from Chelsea in 2006,he went on to manage Inter and Real Madrid, those sojourns brought with them experiences and maturity as far as Jose is concerned (I feel he has been more greatly affected by the events in Madrid though).
He confessed himself to being a “new Mourinho” a manager with a more mature philosophy and outlook on issues and relationships, referring to Arsene Wenger a few days ago he mentioned “I’ve come to know him better now, he’s a good man and a great manager, I was joking with him when we met in Switzerland to teach me how to stay at one club for 17 years” this goes a long way to show Jose Mourinho’s new approach to his second stint at the club of his life.
Whatever happens I believe media wouldn’t find Jose a bit boring this time around unlike his first spell but the Media’s loss is a gain for Football because it means less controversies and better enjoyment of the game.
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