Any reaction to Jose Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea would be lame if it did not take into account the distinction between Mourinho the man and Mourinho the manager. The former was charismatic, rich, good-looking, arrogant, had a great job, insanely popular and could talk as he pleased – in short, all you wanted to be. He was uncanny – he would name his team to the press before an important game, would do anything to become the most hated man in Barcelona, would walk out of a press conference only to come back in a minute to issue a rejoinder about the away dressing room at Stamford Bridge.
Love him, loathe him, but you couldn’t do without him. In a way, he was Chelsea Football Club. I know people who say they hate United because they hate Ronaldo, or Arsenal because of Henry. But if you hated Chelsea FC, it was because he was in charge of them. Try as they might, Ferguson, Wenger and Benitez can never achieve that dubious distinction. Sir Alex does come close, but not quite as JM.
But Mourinho the manager was boring. And here is where a lot of people get misled. They think one is the other. In his three-year reign at Chelsea, I can’t think of more than a couple of games in which Chelsea were thrilling. Yes, they won a lot of games, and they won a few games in the dying minutes, but they bored you to death. If Sir Alex Ferguson claimed midway through last season that United were the neutral fan’s title favourites, it was with reason.
Let’s face it, this world hates boring people. And Chelsea were boring. JM would claim after winning the FA Cup: “I told my players if they wanted to enjoy during the game or after the game.” And Mourinho’s insistence on this type of football didn’t win them a lot of fans. Which doesn’t go well with Peter Kenyon because Chelsea are nowhere close to United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool in terms of fanbase. And it certainly doesn’t go well with Roman Abramovich. This man paid money for expansive football, not just expensive football.
Jose Mourinho doesn’t require to win my approval as one of the best managers around. He is. But the problem is how he wants his teams to play the game. People will still follow news stories about him, but it is doubtful if they will tune in to watch his teams play.
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