Jose Mourinho is: a/shouldering the pressure as Chelsea prepare for Barcelona; b/finally getting what he deserves; c/the latest in a long line of sideline Princes of Paranoia going back through Al Davis, Pat Riley, Alex Ferguson to Dick Nixon and beyond; d/all of the above.
|Sang Tan/Associated Press|
|Mourinho: Prince of Paranoia.|
I used to be neutral about Mourinho. But his bullying, the-world-is-so-against-me attitude -- its flip side, the kind of insecurity that can only come from someone who never played the game, is less immediately evident, but it's there, too -- has become too much to dismiss as merely the calculated bleatings of a poor winner.
On the weekend the Incredible Sulk took a rather run of the mill Premier League match against relegation candidates West Brom and turned it into a prime example of overdogging it. This came within a few days after his accusation against Barca's Lionel Messi of play-acting against the crude challenges of Asier Del Horno, a charge elegantly answered by the T-shirts of Catalan fans this week: "We don't do theatre. We do art," as Mourinho strides into Barcelona for today's Champions League renewal with Europe's team du jour with his chest out, in front of everyone:
"When I was the first one to leave the airport I know what I’m doing,” he said yesterday, referring to his spit-strewn welcome on Sunday. “After that, the players were received without any kind of pressure."
This is the same guy who falsely accused Anders Frisk, hounding the George Michael of footie refs into retirement and plunging Europe's top hair salons and tanning beds into declaring a day of mourning.
But ref-baiting is hardly a Mourinho-only activity, and some of this latest hoo-hah, including the "spit-strewn window", is part of the usual media-army-inspired hooey that surrounds any big match. And no doubt Mourinho is a hell of a tactician. He won the European club championship with Porto, and at Stamford Bridge he's taken the best players Claudio Raineri could find, and whipped them into a winning unit that can beat anyone in the world. When they're not putting us to sleep.
A year ago Chelsea and Barca combined to put on one of the great matches of recent memory, one instance (like today) where Mourinho had to turn them loose. But now I'm hoping for two things: a goodbye to Chelsea (and too bad, that, because Terry is the world's top defender, and Lampard one of the world's most inspiring and fun to watch field generals). And given that, here's another item I'm rooting for that's not nearly so assured: A gracious exit from Mourinho.