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01st Aug 2018

COMMENT: Have we lost all perspective in criticising Jose Mourinho?

Why when Mourinho is involved is it always polemic?

Nooruddean Choudry

Mourinho. Mourinho. Mourinho. Mourinho. Mourinho. Mourinho. Mourinho. It’s lost all meaning.

First things first. Let’s start with the acceptance that Jose Mourinho is a bit of a dick. Or maybe even a lot of a dick. You may even think him the ultimate dick – that’s your prerogative. But at the very least, we can nearly all agree that he’s a bit of dick, minimum. That’s to say, if there’s a dick spectrum, he’s definitely on it.

That needs to come at the start otherwise folk will assume this is a piece defending Mourinho, and it’s not really. Because first and foremost, well, he’s a dick innit. No one’s arguing with that accepted truism…apart from maybe teenage boys with Twitter handles like ‘Joseology’ or ‘Mourinholic’.

Now that’s out of the way, we can crack on. Cristiano Ronaldo once asked in exasperation: “Why when Cristiano is involved is it always polemic?” If that’s true of Ronaldo, it’s doubly so of Mourinho. As the self-styled panto villain of the world football, he seems to actively encourage hatred and vitriol. At his best, he thrives on it.

That in turn tends to mobilise fans of the team he’s managing at any one time to defend him with far more gusto than they normally would. It’s standard siege mentality, galvanised by club tribalism. It’s normal and right and the way it should be. The problem is, Mourinho is so reviled that all objectivity is lost.

Image result for mourinho

The result is that everything is automatically Mourinho’s fault. Any controversy or brouhaha with Jose at it’s heart is the ultimate fault of the Portuguese. Not only is that the default assumption by one and all, but it nearly always translates into the ultimate conclusion too. That in itself is fundamentally problematic.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Despite the dickhead disclaimer, this is turning into a thinly-veiled defence of Jose Mourinho. In football circles, that’s like saying ISIS are just a misunderstood great bunch of lads. I’m not saying that – about Mourinho or ISIS. Rather, it’s not helpful to us if we lose objectivity.

So when there’s a supposed issue with Anthony Martial’s attitude, it is Mourinho’s fault. When frustrations arise about Manchester United’s transfer activity, it is Mourinho to blame. If Jose criticises another team or manager, he is up to his standard Machiavellian mind games. But if he praises them, that’s also bad.

The fans do it, but the media do it too. At times they come across just as skewed. Criticism of Mourinho is bound to both spike analytics and receive a generally favourable reception on social media. Journalists are so tapped into the prevailing mood on Facebook and Twitter that there’s a temptation to ape the common consensus.

Forgetting how fair it is on Mourinho as an individual – let us assume he’s an unfeeling alien devoid of human emotion – if we continue to skew all narrative to paint Mourinho as an ultimate and total baddie, doesn’t that let others off the hook at times? An ill-disciplined player, an out-of-order rival manager, an ineffective CEO?

In a funny way, blanket condemnation of all things Mourinho also lets him off the hook too. It just becomes indiscriminate noise and loses all meaning. In fact it gives those intent on defending him to the hilt the ammunition to claim bias whenever he is rightfully pulled up. Fanboys fucking love a conspiracy against their man.

This is no ‘Leave Britney alone’ style rant to get off Jose’s back. I’m not here to protect poor millionaire bully Mourinho from due criticism. He brings so much of it on himself with his antagonistic behaviour and truculent attitude. But perhaps we need to be more measured and critical of our own criticism. Even if he is a dick.