Sunday 15 December 2019

We're through the looking glass with Jose Mourinho

2013 - New Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho holds up the shirt before the Chealsea FC press conference at Stamford Bridge in June 2013.
2013 - New Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho holds up the shirt before the Chealsea FC press conference at Stamford Bridge in June 2013.

Evan Fanning

THOUGH it was probably not the attribute he was referring to when he described himself as the 'Special One' all those years ago, Jose Mourinho's truly extraordinary gift is his ability to insert himself into the centre of proceedings, regardless of what has taken place.

So, when the storyline of the week concerns his tactical approach, it is perhaps unsurprising that we ended up with an existential tactical argument where his supporters start to resemble the footballing equivalent of Ukip.

Mourinho's successful rope-a-dope strategy against Liverpool last Sunday, followed by Real Madrid's thrashing of Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich, sparked a backlash against "tippy tappy" football and keeping possession that was taken to with such relish that it's a surprise that nobody suggested the best way to now win a game would be to stay away from the pitch entirely, as no good whatsoever can come of entering the playing field.

Not that Mourinho did anything wrong in "parking the bus" at Anfield, an expression he coined to describe an impregnable and immovable wall of defence that a team may decide to plonk in front of its own goal in order to avoid conceding a goal.

But Mourinho's approach could only get him so far and Atletico Madrid did us all a favour by dumping Chelsea out of the Champions League, thereby bringing to an end the parking-the-bus jokes which, in an amazingly short space of time, became the most tedious bout of footballing banter since the 'John Terry in his full kit' craze of a couple of years ago.

Mourinho was even gracious after Wednesday's defeat, which became a big story in itself. If nothing else, he is taking us through the looking glass.

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