You either like him or you don’t. You may even like and dislike him in equal measure. And now apparently, the Inter coach does not like Italian football, and Italian football does not like him.
In an outburst on British television, José Mourinho again shocked the football world in a way only he does. The master of psychology and manipulator of the populous, the man has always used the media to help his teams win, to place pressure on opponents, and to make headlines for his own gratification. In his time in England he was loved for it, and, in his press conference for tonight’s Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow, Mourinho further reiterated his love for England.
There are many occasions where José has used the media to his advantage. His more infamous ones include a pre-game press conference where he shocks everyone by, not only naming his own team, but also by naming the oppositions’! When under pressure towards his final days at Stamford Bridge, he spoke about his having to shop for players he compared to class ‘three’ eggs, an analogy to being restricted in the transfer market
Since arriving in Italy his ability to have the same banter with the media has plummeted. They do not desire his arrogance. They are not slaves to his charisma. His impressive first press conference at Inter saw Mourinho speak in fluent Italian, having reportedly learnt the language in three weeks. He even used Milanese slang, further impressing the crowd. Controversy soon followed however, and in particular his “zeru tituli” (‘zero titles’) slur at rival managers and accusing the Itlaian press of “intellectual prostitution”.
His latest interview displays just how far his relationship with the Italian press has deteriorated. He spoke openly about his dislike of them and how he only speaks to Champions League media. When pressed about his future, Mourinho was cute, ensuring he did not upset his club; “My situation is clear. I am very happy at Inter. I am not happy in Italian football.” When asked to elaborate he declared, “Because I don’t like it and they don’t like me. Simple.”
There may be many reasons for his comments. It is possible that, after such poor recent league form, he is simply aiming to take the pressure off his players. When the teams enter the San Siro tonight, the cameras will be on him and not his team, allowing them the freedom to just play. Many however will see it as a selfish ploy, and a plea to a major club to come and get him, in particular following hot on the heels of his declaration that his Inter contract allows him to leave whenever he desires.
A Champions League title that Inter and their fans so crave may be achievable, but one gets the feeling that it will be their last attempt under the “Special One”. Mourinho has placed himself firmly in the shop window.