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Jose Mourinho Typifies Ugly Trench Mindset Of A Premier League Manager

Jose Mourinho Typifies Ugly Trench Mindset Of A Premier League Manager
By Arthur James O'Dea Updated

It is not perhaps wholly surprising, amid the general euphoria that greeted Mark Hughes's dismissal, that few mentioned the fact that the status of the Premier League's second-longest running manager switched hands last night.

With the exclusion of those who have been with their club longer, but not necessarily while that club has been in the league itself, Tottenham Hotspur's Mauricio Pochettino stands second now only to Arsene Wenger in terms of longevity.

Of course, the Frenchman is something of a misnomer. If not for his initial success with Arsenal, there is no way a club of such standing would have retained the services of a man who hasn't won the Premier League since 2004.

Of the other 18 currently employed, three (Moyes, Allardyce, Pardew) will join Wenger among the top 10 Premier League managers in terms of games managed; a testament to the flexibility with which managers of this ilk tend to flit around several clubs over numerous years. This is a reality Mark Hughes (#6 on that list) is well aware of.

An exclusive position then that is seemingly the privilege of those who've done this for a while, and those who've done something worthwhile elsewhere first, this weekend particularly has again raised the question as to what worth may be placed on a Premier League manager; especially those at the top of the pile.

Between Jurgen Klopp's concession that Philippe Coutinho had feigned injury in a hope to force a move to Barcelona, or Wenger sitting in the stands of the City Ground on account of his inability to deal with referees in a humane fashion, even on a weekend where the Premier League made way for the 3rd round of the FA Cup, their presence was inescapable - and rarely flattering.

Whilst we are frequently made aware that for a player, the abundant riches of the Premier League (and other, loosely football-related reasons, for posterity) make it a very promising place to play football, it is with the managers that the most cut-throat scavenging for place can be identified.

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Yet, in a weekend where the abundance of games turn the actual weekend into a long, Friday to Monday, sort of weekend, it is inevitably to Jose Mourinho that we turn to locate the true avarice of the desperate Premier League manager.

In his escalating war of words with Chelsea's Antonio Conte, the Italian (a man who's own slate, be it as a player or manager, is scarcely spotless) found himself dragged down a level that few can manipulate as well as the Portuguese.

Similar to when a fading Chris Eubank met an up and coming Joe Calzaghe in the mid-nineties, 'English' may not have been what he once was, but he could guarantee that Calzaghe would have to come into the trenches with him to find out for sure.

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Whether or not Mourinho is indeed the "busted flush" many suspect, or merely in the unfortunate position of being Manchester United manager at the point that their city rival finally put their expensively assembled jigsaw in order is irrelevant.

Bating Conte, teasing Conte and forthrightly damning Conte for allegations regarding "match-fixing" of which he has been cleared, one is left wondering what it is we desire from the Premier League.

Yes, Mourinho is an exception, one for whom his games and loose (though all the while clearly quite structured) tongue has become a parody of itself, such to a degree that many discuss the obvious nature of his deflections, all the while being deflected nonetheless. However, over the course of a weekend, he managed to drag a fellow manager down there into those trenches with him.

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In a world where timeliness is of immense importance, as demonstrated by it's scarcity, and successes as outstanding as even Leicester City's title win in 2016 now seems quite a long time (and two managers) ago, are the antics of Mourinho indicative of an increasing desperation? As before, where he has led, will others inevitably follow? Do we want them to?

Were Wenger to leave at the end of this season, Pochettino, after only four years with Spurs, would become the leading man. While the issue of time being given to managers has been well-examined, rarely probed is the idea that managers, perhaps more so than the players, are now the biggest draw.

Verbal broadsides the like of which Mourinho has consistently applied are now common currency for a Premier League manager. One is rarely sure enough of a job to indulge in the football alone; you are constantly composing your CV as it shall surely be needed shortly again.

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In all it's ugliness and excessive forms, the sheer desperation of Premier League managers to deflect, and inflict, harm away from themselves and onto others appears to dominate so much of what we now consider to be regular football coverage.

What remains so blatantly apparent however is the fact that all of Mourinho's games, and the histrionics of Klopp or Conte, and the insults thrown at referees by Wenger, and the media-savvy sorrow of Allardyce & co about "no opportunities for English manager", and Benitez's weekly lament about no funding, etc, are so very visible now due to the success of a man who is quietly keeping his own counsel.

Pep Guardiola has built up something of a tolerance for Mourinho's actions. He has seen what the "little man" can do up close, and, knows he ought to be wary of diving in alongside him. Guardiola indulges in his own histrionics, but in a crazed kind of passion that resembles an archly football man speaking in Cruyffian tongues. Guardiola has by and large made his own opportunities (or certainly seized the first he was offered at Barcelona.) Guardiola puts himself in positions where excuses will only reflect poorly on himself.

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When the Catalan scorns the tough winter scheduling, few demonstrate much pity - his is a wallet that knows no bounds. Yet, one suspects he expects no pity either. For the rightful slack he received for his unusual behaviour toward Nathan Redmond, his practical enhancement of Raheem Sterling's game demonstrates that he was probably onto something - even if his transmission needs some work.

Although even they are not beyond all scrutiny in terms of the foundations upon which the team is built, without Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, this Premier League would be scarcely worth paying heed to.

In a seemingly growing obsession not with the cult of manager, but the cult of the personality of the manager, he is the most high profile devotee to a cause that lured us in in the first place; football.

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See Also: 'It Was Really Deflating' - Declan Rice Had To Overcome Chelsea Setback


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