It takes a courageous character to challenge a widely held belief. If you don’t believe me then I suggest you head down to the nearest Topshop and loudly declare that One Direction are little more than lucky paperboys with about as much charm as an anal fissure.
And seeing as my own levels of bravery extend not much beyond stealing little packets of sugar from Costa Coffee, you might be surprised to learn that I’m about to steam into one of football’s most habitually spouted ‘dogmas.’ If Jamie Redknapp were to observe that I was ‘literally shitting myself’ it would be a rare triumph for correct grammar.
My rather anxious challenge is to the widely accepted wisdom that Jose Mourinho, master of the mind games, never says anything unless it is working toward some wily Machiavellian purpose.
If he suggests referees are pursuing a vendetta against his team it’s a cunning ploy to plant seeds of doubts in the officials’ minds. If he bemoans his opponents’ time wasting tactics it is to engineer more favorable time-keeping in his next games. If he complains that he once saw Arsene Wenger beat a swan to death with a big wheel of creamy cheese, it’s an underhand attempt to get the Arsenal manager punched in the balls by the Queen.
But I would suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, Mourinho is actually just a bit sulky.
It appears I am mostly on my own with this view. Listen to one of Mourinho’s increasingly bizarre bennys and, faster than John Terry can sniff out an unattended girlfriend, the press will be gushing off about yet another masterstroke of deflection and subterfuge.
This sometimes seems like, in the scramble to applaud Mourinho’s brilliance, we sometimes forget that another explanation may simply be that he’s having a grumble and will probably feel a little bit silly about it further down the line. Already this season he’s denounced his own ‘19th century football’ remarks about West Ham as ‘silly, stupid words’ (although perhaps the threat of Sam Allardyce dunking him like a bread roll into a piping hot corn beef hash inspired that particular retraction).
This season Mourinho has whined about everything from slovenly ball boys to a sinister refereeing conspiracy that inexplicably caused Gary Cahill to hurl himself through the air like an orphan that’s just been kicked out of Mike Ashley’s helicopter.
Rogue of the Week: Gary Cahill for a dive that was so bad, it was good. https://t.co/e2vziQZRQK
— Savile Rogue (@SavileRogue) December 19, 2014
I have no doubt that Mourinho does sometimes say these things to manipulate a headline or rather heavily deposit a suggestion in a referee’s mind. But sometimes he’s just being petulant and churlish and a little bit of a nob-end – just like every other football manger there has ever been.
I actually like Mourinho. He’s the kind of man who would take you to the safari park but then throw your iPhone out of the window just to see what it looks like when a massive baboon punches a weak man in the face. But then, when you wake up from the coma those furious monkeys beat you into, he’d probably bring you a big Toblerone and second hand copy of Nuts.
I think he’s alright. I just don’t think he’s always the calculating, fiendish Moriarty figure that everyone rather boringly tells me he is.