Jose. What a man. He patrols the touchline, immaculately dressed part drama queen, part coach. Watching Inter Milan on TV is essential viewing, less for the football than for the Jose show.
Love or loath him, he is compulsive viewing. It’s a no-holds barred exercise in facial expressions and physical theater.
He goes through a range of emotions and gestures greater than any Shakespearian actor is required to do. The technical area is Mourinho’s own personal stage and he rarely fails to perform. How brilliant it is to have a character in football who so thoroughly divides people and who creates that division with such style and willful posturing.
The British love all of this. We can’t get enough of the Special One. Most of us want him back in our daily lives and the inside opinion is that he misses the cut and thrust of the Premier League culture. He probably also misses the adulation from the press corp. But apparently the Italian’s are less enamored with him. They need not worry because he’ll be back on these shores as soon as the right job becomes available.
Wednesday’s game gives him a chance to court the British media again; something he takes delight in. And the media hang on his every word like lovesick teenagers.
By contrast Ancelloti looks like a bank manager. He probably knows this and hates Mourinho for his arrogance and ego-driven manner. There’s certainly no love lost between them and the two up-coming games in the Champions League are going to be fascinating as much for what goes on in the dug-out as on the pitch.
It would be interesting to know how many of the Chelsea team feel closer to Jose than they do to their existing manager. His ghost still walks the corridors of Stamford Bridge. His immense personality still echoes its walls. Would that affect, even by a small percentage, their form? Jose feels that Chelsea is still his team and he presumably knows their weaknesses. But Chelsea is a better, stronger side than Inter.
The Mourinho factor in the out come of this tie should not be under-estimated. The degree to which he can get under the skin of his rivals may be crucial. It’s been said before that Mourinho’s greatest talent is not tactical but psychological. He is a leader of men who can inspire loyalty and drive players on to greater heights. He turns nearly men into winners.
That is a rare ability and has won him many enemies. A journalist told me the other day that many of Italian coaches refer to him merely as ‘the translator’; a patronizing term for a man they consider does is little in terms of coaching who has benefitted from the wealth of his employers.
Wherever you stand on him, there’s no denying the spectacle of the man. He is tremendous value and can be relied on to amuse or annoy in equal measure. This week he will take center stage…..and that’s exactly where he loves to be.