Earlier in the season, it seemed that the British media hung on every word Jose Mourinho uttered. But that is no longer the case as the self-proclaimed “Happy One” has become more and more erratic in his post-match comments and less incisive or creative in his mind games.
When the press began to check out on Mourinho is an open question. I would submit it began with the Chelsea manager’s specialist in failure comments about Arsene Wenger, in the middle of February. Feeling confident after defeating Manchester City away from home and seizing control of the title race, the Portuguese manager felt he was untouchable in the press.
Since the middle of February, the attitude towards Mourinho has changed decidedly in the British press.
In late December, I wrote the following about Mourinho’s mind games:
Now Mourinho has positioned himself as the savior for the Blues. Should Chelsea win the title, it was down to his management skill, taking a squad of inferior players and overtaking the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. This way the manager insulates himself from criticism if things go horribly wrong and can go to Roman Abramovich this summer and ask for money for a squad overhaul.
While Mourinho has positioned himself in the media he has brilliantly motivated his squad to play more disciplined and organized football. Chelsea has responded with a great run of results during the festive period placing the team in a great position for the second half of the season.
It’s a masterful job of public positioning that would make politicians on both sides of the Atlantic proud. Perhaps David Cameron and Barack Obama could take notes from “the special one.”
But what ended up happening, instead of Mourinho controlling the narrative in full for the remainder of the season, is that his rhetoric became so questionable and his comments so tinged with game-playing that the more seasoned reporters that had previously enabled him stopped carrying the Chelsea manager’s water.
The resulting March struggles of Chelsea have exposed Mourinho and have found him receiving little quarter and sympathy from the media. His constant effort to manipulate the press and mock his opposition has finally come undone. Now the Blues manager must rely entirely on other results and his own managerial qualities to try and win the Premier League title. This is a different scenario than Mourinho envisioned just six weeks ago when he still believed he could use his words and the media’s indulgence in them as a weapon against his opposition in the title race.