Ever since the bitter expulsion of Chelsea from the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League 2008-09, Jose Mourinho has been extra caustic with his remarks about FC Barcelona. Not that he’s courteous to others, but his ‘affection’ for FC Barcelona is a little more than the rest.
Jose Mourinho and FC Barcelona go a long way back. The Portuguese learnt his trade at the Catalan club, as Sir Bobby’s translator, and after a hiatus of about 14 years has come back to Spain, to earn his bread by applying his tricks against his old masters. The illustrious Portuguese has managed in 3 different countries before moving to Spain and has undoubtedly been successful.
Jose started his career, as a manager, at Benfica. Vindictive as he is, Jose refused to work with Jesualdo Ferreira, who was his mentor at Instituto Superior de Educação Física (ISEF), and even snubbed the senior Portuguese by saying, “This could be the story of a donkey who worked for 30 years but never became a horse.” Despite being offered the position of assistant manager at Newcastle United, Mourinho stayed put at the Estádio da Luz. Due to some internal political turmoil, Mourinho tested the integrity of the newly elected president by asking for a contract extension. On being refused, Jose left Benfica midway into the season without many qualms. The itinerant manager accepted an offer from União de Leiria and took them to one of their highest domestic league positions. This was however not unseen by bigger clubs and FC Porto bagged him soon after.
Mourinho’s rise to stardom isn’t anything short of folklore. He took the Portuguese giants to the dizzy heights of winning the UEFA Champions League in 2003-04. Newer challenges awaited him and Mourinho did not disappoint. Russian billionaire, Roman Abrahimovic, entrusted Mourinho with the Chelsea revolution and the Portuguese made them one of the finest sides in England. Despite not being able to make any significant impact on the continental level, Chelsea was regarded by many as a team of the future. The conceited side of the Portuguese got the better of him and resulted in his termination which is often termed as “mutual consent.”
Jose moved to Inter Milan where he won everything and finally is now at the Spanish capital, mentoring a beleaguered Real Madrid, struggling to come out of the shadow of an all-conquering FC Barcelona. Despite being extremely successful, Jose has always failed to maintain his dignity and went out of his way to make scathing remarks at his oppositions. Some answered him off the field and some on it. The enigmatic figure that he is, Mourinho often yields to the temptation to provoke.
Mordant Mourinho has always ‘praised’ FC Barcelona in his own Special way. “If I am hated at Barcelona, it is their problem but not mine. Fear is not a word in my football dictionary,” said the volatile Portuguese. The reason for this assumed hatred might be his uncouth celebration at the Camp Nou after Inter Milan got the better of FC Barcelona over two legs. Mourinho ran almost the entire pitch; however, the Portuguese acted quite contrary to his nature in the recent 5-0 thrashing of his team at the Camp Nou and hid in the safety of the dugout. One can only wonder what might lead to such contrasting behaviour. The entire Camp Nou called out for Jose and the Portuguese did not oblige. Was it indifference or fear? As admitted by the man himself, the word ‘FEAR’ isn’t in his football dictionary, indifference towards his team’s loss can be a reason. “It’s easy to digest because it’s a defeat in which there was no chance of winning,” said Mourinho. This further substantiates the doubt.
Real Madrid is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated clubs on the planet. However, the Blancos couldn’t get the better of FC Barcelona for quite some time now, even after investing a whopping £224.8 million. Mr. Perez finally went a step further to sign the ‘best manager’ – Jose Mourinho. The usually outspoken Portuguese, who is otherwise very defensive in his approach, assured that the Los Blancos would play attacking football. It’s no rocket science that a team comprising of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Kaka, Benzema would surely play attacking football. If compared to Manuel Pellegrini’s record the previous season (till the first 20 league matches), Real Madrid netted 47 times to Jose’s men, who notched up just a goal more (48). The point to be emphasized is that Cristiano Ronaldo, the freest scoring Real Madrid player as of now, wasn’t entirely available last year. What is interesting to note is that Jose Mourinho, who is known for his pesky defensive tactics, couldn’t stop teams from scoring against his side. Real Madrid in 2010-11 conceded 17 times whereas Pellegrini’s men let in just 15 times. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Pellegrini’s side never got whitewashed at the hands of FC Barcelona. And more so, there wasn’t any report of dressing room unrest, which is incessant this season. Either the Chilean was a good man manager or he had the ability to keep things out of the reach of the media. Sadly, Mourinho isn’t good at either. So how an ostentatious Jose Mourinho is an improvement over the docile Chilean? It is indeed very difficult to comprehend. Maybe Madridistas will have an answer.
At a club like Real Madrid, a manager isn’t given the liberty that others enjoy in other leagues. Right from the inception, Jose didn’t fit into this ideology. Starting from his inept ability to taunt his opponents, not to tolerate anyone above him in the club hierarchy, Mourinho and Real Madrid are just like chalk and cheese. His recent bust-up with Valdano bears testimony to the fact. Apart from internal issues, the Portuguese also has time to talk about his opponents – especially FC Barcelona. Not only does he make his odium apparent, but also goes to the extent to jeer them. Ridiculous claims like referees supporting FC Barcelona, Guardiola receiving preferential treatment, oppositions fielding weaker teams against Barca, etc. can only give Barca fans a reason to practice – “Laughter is the best medicine.”
The Portuguese claimed that he wouldn’t be coaching Barcelona, ever – much to the delight of the Catalans. A manager like Mourinho will not only stifle the Barcelona philosophy of playing football the way it should be played, but will also stunt the growth of young stars from the famed La Masia. German legend Kaiser Beckenbauer went to the extent of calling Portuguese uneducated. It’s not without a reason that a dignified football icon does so. “He has been rude and with no education in his behaviour to achieve his objectives,” said the celebrated German. Even the legendary Sir Alex got exasperated by Mourinho’s tendency to speak out of turn.
The insolent Portuguese went to the extent of calling Wenger ‘a voyeur’ – much to the chagrin of the English and world media. The hypocritical camaraderie that exists between Ronaldo and Mourinho is purely circumstantial. The former Manchester United winger once criticised Mourinho and now doesn’t mind going gaga over him. Apart from these, respectable icons like Rafael Benitez, Massimo Allegri amongst others too have not spoken of Mourinho in a way that would sound pleasing to the ear. Why is it that these men had to speak about Mourinho and not anybody else? Mourinho-faithfuls might be of the opinion that it could have been a way to garner attention. If at all such answers creep up, it’ll be hilarious, to say the least.
It’s a widely understandable, yet unstated, that Jose was brought to give FC Barcelona a run for their money. Madridistas might deny this vehemently; but what else could have been the reason to bring in someone who isn’t doing anything better than what Pellegrini did? However, there are a few aspects where Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho cannot overtake FC Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. First being the mindless spending. The players that were there, before the current crop of Galacticos came in, were competent enough to win all major competitions. Secondly, Mourinho’s infirmity to groom the youth was a factor. Madrid has had many of their promising young talents leaving for other clubs in search of more playing time. If the recently signed Adebayor’s deal is made permanent in summer, who knows Morata might just land up in Getafe in 2011-12.
Third and the most important is humility! Jose Mourinho is way behind Guardiola. Pro-Madrids might argue that Guardiola is unproven in other leagues. So is Sir Alex. Does that make him any less a legend? And what makes them think that Guardiola will not be successful in other leagues? Guardiola’s chances of making it in other leagues are as much as Mourinho’s, before he moved to English moneybags – Chelsea. Guardiola’s harsh self-criticism percolated into the ethos of the team and as a result of which FC Barcelona strives to improve their game, week after week. This self criticism also makes it easier to score over Mourinho, as the Catalans have someone who can definitely claim their share of the limelight and allow them a breather. This in a way is not only convivial but also helps the reigning Spanish champions to work towards their ultimate goal – silverware via beautiful football.