All Brawler, No Baller: Why Football Needs To Move On From Jose Mourinho

The Portuguese manager attempted to confront the referee in a car park on Wednesday
11:32, 01 Jun 2023

He is the manager who called Arsene Wenger “a voyeur”, accused referee Anders Frisk of conspiring with Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard, hid in a laundry basket to usurp a Uefa ban and ostracised Eva Carneiro after the physio had the cheek to tend to an injured player.

He passed on messages to ensure two of his players were sent off in order to miss dead-rubber Champions League games, poked an opposition staff member in the eyes during an altercation and turned the famed El Clasico into an all-out brawl whenever the chance arose.

And there have been many, many more incidents. How about him basically bullying Luke Shaw while he had a duty of care for the left-back during his spell as Manchester United manager, or his run-in with Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas, or the way he discarded the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah?


It is fair to say that Jose Mourinho has spent his entire coaching career stirring the pot in some way, shape or form, so his antics in Roma’s defeat on penalties to Sevilla in Wednesday’s Europa League final in Budapest came as a surprise to absolutely nobody. The Portuguese was one of 14 players and staff members to be booked in a game which descended into farce at points.

But that is Mourinho, right? He’s made his entire reputation out of it. Sure, there were the funny quotes in press conferences about getting Waitrose eggs to make omelettes, and the cockiness of calling himself a “Special One” was something of a breath of fresh air at the time, but in truth the last 20 years covering Mourinho has all gotten very tiresome.

The behaviour he has coaxed out of his Roma players is nothing new. Think about the way he would have Lionel Messi hacked at every turn back in the day, whether by Asier del Horno at Chelsea, Thiago Motta for Inter, or Pepe with Real Madrid. The Giallorossi used to be a silky outfit known for their stylish football, whether led by Francesco Totti, Gabriel Batistuta or Paulo Roberto Falcao. Sure, they have had the muscle to go with it down the years, but they have rarely been as overbearingly brutal as they are under Mourinho.


The way that Mourinho has his teams take to a task is unseemly, and yet he somehow manages to always out-shithouse them in the way that he carries himself on the touchline. He was seen being physically restrained at various points during Wednesday’s final, and the footage of him hanging around in the car park waiting for referee Anthony Taylor following the match is a stain on the sport. To see him pacing around, mumbling expletives in multiple languages does himself, his club, the countries he is representing and the sport itself a massive disservice.

But we’ve written stuff like this before. Everyone has. He’s been up to this kind of crap for two decades and it got old very, very quickly indeed. And what’s worse is that people are influenced by his reprehensible behaviour.

Ask Anders Frisk, the referee whose integrity Mourinho didn’t so much question as downright butcher after he rightly sent off Didier Drogba in a match, whether people tend to believe what the 60-year-old says. The Swede was forced to retire soon after that match due to death threats received by his family off the back of Mourinho’s accusations that Frisk had entertained Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard in his changing room at half-time, shortly before Drogba’s red card.

That was more than 18 years ago and yet somehow he is still allowed to pull this crap. Nobody has been off limits in Mourinho’s mind down the years, but referees have been the ones to get it in the neck most regularly. His two seasons with Roma alone have been punctuated with yellow and red cards, fines and suspensions, accusations and recriminations. It is as boring and predictable as it is unsightly.

While nobody expects footballers and managers to be role models first and professionals second, parents are having an increasingly hard time coaxing learned behaviours out of their children who are following what they see being acted out on their TV screens. And Mourinho is chief among the bad influences. Most people tend to mature and mellow over time, reining in some of their most outlandish traits, but there is just no stopping this particular beacon of iniquity.

So his post-match talk of taking a break, while it should be taken with a pinch of salt, comes as a sign of hope that we might finally get a bit of time off from Mourinho and his pantomime nonsense which serves only to ruin the perception of the beautiful game.

Once upon a time he was a successful football manager with a bit of an attitude problem to work on. Nowadays he’s just a faded memory of a different time, complete with the same old chip on his shoulder which we were all tired of dealing with a long, long time ago.


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