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Jose Mourinho: Conspiracy theorist or world-class troll?

Alan TyersFebruary 23, 2015
Jose Mourinho laments 'four moments' that cost Chelsea

With his intense, sneering and always entertaining appearance on Sky Sports' Goals On Sunday, Jose Mourinho burnished his reputation as the most fascinating character in British football. Does he really believe that there is a conspiracy against Chelsea? Is it all a ruse to take pressure off his players? Or is he simply a world-class troll?

Here are some possible explanations:

1) Mourinho actually believes there is a media conspiracy against Chelsea

It seems highly improbable to the outsider. But maybe the most gifted manager in English football, the figurehead of one of the world's richest and most powerful sporting organisations, genuinely does think the dice are loaded against him.

He has cited the preponderance of former Liverpool and Manchester United players in the media in the past. Does he honestly think that Jamie Redknapp is the powerful shot-caller for a deep-reaching campaign? Has he watched Jamie on TV?

His quotes on Diego Costa, whom Redknapp had criticised for, you know, clearly, obviously stamping on opponents, were magnificent.

"When you think 'Diego crimes' after he puts his boot on a hand, when this is 'Diego crimes', the minimum you have to say is 'criminal tackle'. Did you apologise to Chelsea, to Diego or myself? You didn't. As an institution, Sky is so important in the Premier League; you never apologise."

Pity the show's host, poor Ben Shephard. This was a lot harder than laughing at Peter Reid's jokes.

2) Mourinho really thinks that referees are conspiring against him

Nemanja Matic was sent off for reacting angrily to Ashley Barnes' 'criminal' tackle © Getty Images

It's one thing to accuse a lightweight ex-Liverpool pretty boy of having an agenda when he does his TV "analysis". It would be another to openly accuse a referee of being corrupt.

Mourinho has not crossed this line and may never do so in England. However, his use of the word "integrity" is interesting. An FA Commission in April 2014 found that he "had not questioned the integrity of Mike Dean" in the match against Sunderland, but it is certain that "integrity" is a line in the sand for the football authorities, and rightly so.

The Chelsea manager said on Sunday: "If the referee can't see a penalty three metres in front of him, an official in front of a screen can't miss it. If we want to protect the integrity of the referee and believe that the mistake is the consequence of misinterpretation or a bad position, I think technology can help."

Here he is blurring the line between "integrity" and "competence". That's weaselly and self-serving: clearly being honest and being able are two different things, but it seems he is inviting the viewer to think "Yeah, these guys are so bad they must be crooks". It's not really clear what advantage that brings to him.

3) Mourinho thinks that the referees are useless

And, after a weekend like this one, many might agree with him. It seems ludicrous that we don't use video technology and that the poor old ref has to make decisions in real-time, in a sport that gets ever more based on explosive acceleration, with just his eyes - while every single other person in the world gets the benefit of umpteen camera angles and replays.

Sure, Martin Atkinson had a shocker in Chelsea's match with Burnley. But under the current technological system, what else can you expect? Referees are human. Despite all the vast scrutiny and pressure, there has never been any prosecution, not even any credible accusation, of corrupt refereeing in the Premier League.

We've seen this week on the Paris Metro how far Chelsea, and football, has to travel towards actual "Respect"

The referees we have may not be great, but they are honest - and they are the best available. There are not dozens of undiscovered Pierluigi Collinas lurking on Hackney Marshes.

Incidentally, by tolerating managers and players abusing, mocking and belittling referees, it makes the non-League refereeing experience that little bit more fraught for the brave/mad souls who do it on a Sunday morning. We've seen this week on the Paris Metro how far Chelsea, and football, has to travel towards actual "Respect", despite all the fine words about it. Perhaps if the game's most charismatic coach wasn't so disrespectful that would be a start.

4) It is all a ruse to take pressure off his players

This would be an elaborate long con, if true. Surely inviting this sort of huge scrutiny of himself is only going to increase attention on the club. In any case, Chelsea players such as John Terry, Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic etc hardly seem like delicate flowers who are going to be crying themselves to sleep in their mansions because fans of other clubs or a few hacks think they have made a bad tackle.

The oft-stated Sir Alex Ferguson technique of creating a siege mentality may be at play, but this can backfire as well: if you encourage everyone to hate you, then they will, and perhaps they will try just that little bit harder in matches against you.

5) Mourinho has actually gone mad

Obviously a brilliant tactical coach and judge of players, Mourinho's quality that separates him from the rest is his charisma, the force of his personality.

He has real presence, and inspires those around him not by fear but by love. His vast self-belief is what has taken him from being a translator to the best football manager in the world. This sort of highly unusual, highly driven, highly gifted personality does not - cannot - allow room for self-doubt.

He will not allow himself to fail, because he does not believe that he can. It always has to be somebody else's fault. Referees and the media are just a simple pressure valve for him in one sense, but maybe the adulation and success he has garnered make it impossible for him to tell external reality from the internal reality of his will. Crazy though it seems, in his own mind, perhaps he actually believes that the media and referees are against him.

What a strange world his must be.

Has sneering Mourinho actually gone mad? © PA Photos
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