There has been much talk of a Jose Mourinho return to the Premiership after his Real Madrid spell. It has been fueled partially by conjecture but mostly by the man himself who has talked of the emotional pull of his days at Chelsea. On the face, he has an impeccable lineage, taking each of his teams to the top, in three different leagues. Real Madrid waits in the wings for a Barcelona stumble for him to accomplish his own personal goal. He should be on the top of every coaching wishlist.
In his quest, Mourinho has become the master of mind games, by insinuation, milking every weakness, and wrecking every semblance of self esteem. In Italy he enraged his rivals rubbing their faces in zero tituli derision. While at Chelsea he often delighted in skewering Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez while maintaining a personal friendship with Sir Alex. Which forms sort of basis for why some see him as a heir apparent to the Man Utd manager who has furthered that notion by singing his praises. The psy ops warfare on his opposition often mean spirited, nevertheless, were looked on by many, as entertaining diversions, to the build up to the game. Mourinho also used the media to paint himself as a persecuted man constantly at odds with the establishment. It was all good theatre which was best of all, free.
Yet, what he did the other day at Barcelona clearly crossed the line. Verbal jousting is one thing, trying to deliberately maim a member of the coaching fraternity just sent it out of the ball park. Paul Hayward mentions him as being out of control. I tend to agree with commentators pointing to his measured walk to Tito Vilanova, trying to gouge out his eye, and walking back with a smirk as the actions of man who clearly and malevolently set out to deliver a clear message of intimidation.
Mourinho choosing the banality of evil turned what was actually an engrossing match full of rightful drama on the pitch into a tragic sideshow. It takes away from the fact that an outstanding Real team forced a magnificent response from Barca to beat them. The second leg was a fitting coda to the first till it dissolved into an orgy of extra-curricular activity. The post mortem has not been pretty. The biggest fear is Mourinho might finally deliver a meaningful title for Madrid but by then Spanish football would would look like the bastard child of Steve Tyler and Roseanne Barr. La Liga would be the black hole of nothingness as other clubs are sucked into the vortex by the immense gravitational pull of these two clubs.
In England, the very thought of diving sent Joey Barton into paroxysms. For a player who has had his share of acting out, this represents a return to a very rudimentary sense of conscience. But if Barton is a troubled soul what is one's reaction to nihilism?
Sir Alex and Arsene Wenger don't pretend to be good friends but even at its bitterest the rivalry between Man Utd and Arsenal was played out on the pitch with the managers maintaining a cordial relationship. Sir Alex even went as far as making a personal plea to fans to stop chanting that ugly pedophilia ditty that goes on tap every time Wenger makes an Old Trafford appearance. And last season Wenger heard no end of it for refusing to shake Kenny Dalglish's hand after that deflating draw. He was excoriated on both sides of the aisles for being a poor loser.
When you think of such instances as representing the skew in English decorum within members of the coaching fraternity, Mourinho's actions begin to take on perspective. Many will point to Mourinho's less amicable departure from Barca as the starting point for these troubles. And the well known distaste of Madridistas for a club associated intimately with Catalonian autonomy. There is always an edge to these El Clasicos which is why they're one of the most anticipated matches in the world. A chip on the shoulder if harnessed well is a good thing. But the combination is proving to be poisonous.
Imagine Mourinho if he came to Utd. There is just a hint that Roberto Mancini (who he replaced at Inter) and City could end a one sided derby. All it would take is a polarizing figure like him for all hell to break loose. Riots. Who wants that? More likely, Mourinho comes out so damaged by the end of his Real Madrid career, he's virtually unemployable. Well, there is always Rupert Murdoch, his kindred spirit who could use his talents to start Gouge Eye News. On the other hand there could also be a more salubrious result. Like the epiphany of the emperor Ashoka renouncing war after surveying the death and destruction on the battlefield of Kalinga. We hope.