Jose Mourinho rails against the world in outspoken return as a TV pundit
Portuguese boss talks Salah, managing in the Gulf and "lies" about Real Madrid record
Poor job prospects in the UK. Outdated views. Probably just there for the money. A history of sexism.
And for once, it wasn’t Andy Gray or Richard Keys.
José Mourinho reemerged in the beIN Sports studios on Thursday, making a much-hyped first TV appearance since his sacking by Manchester United.
So how had he spent the last month? Reflecting on his own failures perhaps, as his replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjar, a relative rookie, clocked up six straight wins? Not quite.
“Enjoying some sun,” came the uncharacteristically bland response. The banal tone would not last. The 55-year-old spent much of the next hour railing against the world as he reflected on a fading career. Owners, modernity, footballers, the media, society. It was everyone’s fault but his.
But surely even the self-proclaimed Special One could admit selling a young Mohamed Salah, whose goals have put Liverpool on course to topple Manchester City as Premier League champions, during his second term as Chelsea manager for a pittance was a mistake?
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“People try to identify me as a coach that sold Salah,” a belligerent Mourinho said, denying any responsibility. “I am the coach that bought Salah.”
The young forward, also, was to blame. “He was just a lost kid in London, he was a lost kid in a new world” who refused to warm the Chelsea bench. “When the club decide to sell him - it was not me. So I bought him, I didn’t sell him.”
English-speaking viewers persuaded to part with their cash for a beIN Asian Cup subscription by a week of trailers about the broadcaster’s Mourinho coup would have been entitled to feel disappointed that the proceedings were conducted in Arabic, with a translator speaking over their famous guest's replies.
Instead of a reunion with Gray and Keys, he was seated next to Mohamed Aboutrika, the Egyptian legend, and Mubarak Mustafa, the former Qatar captain, also offering half time and post-match analysis of Qatar’s 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
Arriving in an open collar, suit and trainers, Mourino initially appeared slightly uneasy, clutching an earpiece through which questions were translated. Within minutes, he found his voice, also launching a passionate defence his Real Madrid record.
True, he won La Liga once in three years and failed to deliver European success. But who cares about Champions Leagues when you have an obscure record for the number of goals scored?
“When people tell lies, many times, people think it’s true, but you can tell a lie 1,000 times, it’s still a lie,” he said, addressing perceptions of his time in Spain. “With Real Madrid we have the record for goals scored in Spanish football”.
Modern footballers too were not spared. Managers struggled to manage players “that are not the best professionals”. A reference to his high-profile spat with Paul Pogba perhaps?
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You could almost feel the Mourinho bank manager shudder.
A gagging clause compelling Mourinho not to discuss the circumstances of his departure from Manchester United was a condition of his reported £18m (Dh85m) payoff. By comparison his appearance with the Qatar-based broadcaster, alongside providing punditry for the Arsenal against Chelsea game on Saturday, will net him a paltry £120,000 (Dh570,000).
“When I was speaking before, I was not speaking about my experience with Manchester United at all,” he rushed to clarify, apparently remembering his contractual obligations. “I am speaking about generality.”
And of course, it was not the promise of tens of thousands for a few hours of work that had attracted Mourinho to beIN. He was here “to learn” about Asian football, he claimed. He insisted he is not finished in elite football, yet openly discussed the possibility of managing in the Gulf, imagining a “hypothetical” scenario in which he took the lucrative job as manager of the Qatari national side.
The region must demand more from the European managers they hired, he said, who he accused of not doing enough to build a football legacy. And of course, he would do a better job than all of them.
“The coaches they come, they coach and they go home and they take your money,” he said. “If one day I coach a national team in your area of the Gulf, let’s say, what I would like is my successor to be a local one. That’s legacy – you do the work but you prepare people for the future.”
He mused: “I think [foreign coaches] should give more here and it should be your responsibility. By our formation, by our personality, by our DNA, are we European ones more ready to do the job? I don’t know, maybe we are.”
He has never been one to shy away from controversy, but advancing theories around racial superiority was pushing it even for Mourinho.
But if it was entertainment they wanted, beIN Sports bosses will consider every Riyal well spent.
Updated: January 17, 2019 10:37 PM