It’s not often one can quote Terry Wogan to illustrate a point about football, so I’ll take the opportunity while I can.
The blarney-spouting bard from Limerick once said that every day, there are thousands of people sitting in front of their TV’s and radios, just waiting to be offended.
It’s true. If there was no bad guy, the British public would have very little to complain about. Question Time would be replaced with a programme containing a panel of meteorologists fielding questions about the weather. The Daily Mail wouldn’t exist. Life would be almost perfect.
Let’s clear one thing up. The bad guys are always more interesting than the good guys.
Look at Hollywood’s take on good and evil. Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker? Yes, I know who won in the end, but that’s Tinseltown for you.
First, there’s old D.V. Mortals quake at the sound of his voice. Destroys planets at the touch of button and chokes people without even touching them. Great name, even better outfit. And he’s got stormtroopers. Very cool.
Then there’s Jedi-boy. Silly faux biblical-sci-fi name. Crap line in tunics and a sister fixation. Robots for mates. Oh dear.
This week, a growing army of media Jedi Knights has formed, waving their lightsabres around to express outrage at Mourinho’s destruction of another universe (well, he annoyed a Dutchman and got grass stains on his suit trousers). A group of moralistic preachers who want the authorities called, sanctions imposed and punishments dished out.
Why not just call Sketchleys?
UEFA, Andy Townsend, Steve Curry and many others, all simpering with rage at their favourite pantomime hate figure – Mourinho. The devil incarnate, the bad guy.
I’m rather bewildered. Both before and after the Needle in the Nou Camp, Mourinho seemed rather more docile than he can be. A few trademark spiky, combative answers to some typically leading, shit-stirring questions about the referee and Eidur Gudjohnsen’s conversion to the dark side, but nothing you wouldn’t expect under the circumstances.
Oh, and he celebrated a goal. It’s not like he ran onto the pitch to berate the referee and prevent his players from shaking the hands of the officials, eh Mr. Rijkaard?
But the whistle had barely left the referee’s lips at full time and off they went. Cue ITV; lights, camera, outrage.
Andy Townsend’s lambasting of Mourinho following his post-match interview in Barcelona was the most incredible piece of simpering, whiny ‘look at me’ hypocrisy I can recall seeing in recent years.
“It’s all me, me, me with Mourinho”, was Townsend’s attention-seeking angle while he berated the Chelsea boss for answering the persistent questioning about the referee from one of his ITV colleagues instead of praising his players (which he did) or talking about one of the most dramatic games of football in recent years. Me, me, me indeed, Andy.
And so it continued; UEFA’s Lennart Johansson has chipped in his four-penneth, saying that Mourinho “makes statements like someone who’s been promised candy but didn’t get it.” He added that “sometimes we are not severe enough” on persistent offenders.
Like fining clubs who allow 40,000 barbarians to make monkey noises at black players the equivalent of £3.28 and a packet of salt and vinegar Discos, you mean Lennart?
But this morning, they really surpassed themselves. Jimmy Hill’s kitchen reverberated with the flatulent ramblings of Steve Curry – or Jabba the Twat, as he’s known round these parts – who suggested that the next time Mourinho slides across the turf on his knees in celebration, Chelsea should be deducted three points.
Yes, you read that correctly. I’ll leave you to use the comments section for your thoughts on this particular stroke of totally unbiased genius.
What these joyless, self-appointed guardians of the game have forgotten is that somewhere in all of us, there is that demon that only football can raise. The thing that turns mild-mannered folk like you and I into crazed, screaming and drooling wrecks.
Had the team I managed just nicked a last-minute equaliser in front of 95,000 baying Catalans, I’d have either been arrested and/or sectioned for my celebration. I suspect most of us would have. Grass stains wouldn’t have been the half of it.
And somewhere inside even the Townsends and Currys of this world, although their supposedly spotless, holier-than-thou reputations wouldn’t allow them to admit it, there is that demon that would have loved to have been Mourinho for those few seconds on Tuesday night. To have felt the power, the noise, the exhilaration – and the grass stains.
And if it isn’t there anymore, then they simply have no business in football. The Health and Safety Executive might be a better place for their particular talents.
So full credit to Martin Samuel in today’s News of the World for recognising the Barcelona game for what it was; a good, old-fashioned tear-up. A grudge match with more fireworks than the skies over Britain on November 5; more aggravation and drama than an EastEnders omnibus, with better actors to boot.
We know that Jose is no angel. It is unlikely that he’ll be meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates when he shuffles off this mortal coil. Unless he retires from football to bring peace to the Middle East or conduct the search for a solution to global warming, Mourinho is probably going to hell. In a handcart.
But there are two things to remember – firstly, we’re only watching. Secondly, he’s having the time of his life on the way and if there isn’t the tiniest spark hidden away in the darkest recesses of your psyche that envies him, then check your pulse. You’re probably dead.
In summary, a revision of an old adage is needed to describe the ranks of morally outraged hacks currently appearing on our screens and in our papers:
Those that can, do. Those that can’t, preach.