Try as he might, Mourinho will always be inferior to Guardiola
Published: 23.06.13 / Written by: David Gold
Jose Mourinho has painted his return to Chelsea in terms of a marriage.
A couple separated. Acknowledging the success Chelsea have had since his departure, he claimed that he was a Chelsea fan, one of them, celebrating their successes under Carlo Ancelotti and others as much as any of the faithful at Stamford Bridge.
What Mourinho is ignoring is that he was never the first choice of Roman Abramovich, and he knows it. The world knows it. Abramovich was courting Pep Guardiola for years, seemingly, only to be spurned like a lost teenager fawning after a date that got away on prom night. Ultimately, Guardiola was picked up by Bayern Munich, a far bigger and more respected club.
Mourinho’s return is therefore one that he makes with his tail between his legs. He tried to take on the biggest challenge of all, and usurp the team many consider the best of all time. Some point to the title won last season with 100 points and claim Real Madrid knocked the Catalans off their perch. Wiser men and women point out that actually, Barcelona just won the title with 100 points, and that the year before Mourinho’s arrival, Manuel Pellegrini got 97 points with Real. And Pellegrini didn’t have Cristiano Ronaldo for two months, which arguably makes his achievement greater results wise.
So with Barcelona celebrating their latest title and equalling Mourinho’s side’s record of last season, the Catalans remain very much on their perch, with Real casting envious glances up at them. Real will come again, but no thanks to Mourinho.
The damage he inflicted at one of the world’s greatest sides will take some time to heal. Fans and players had turned on him by the end, with the Portuguse a hated figure. And no wonder either, the way he tried to portray Real Madrid as victims of a conspiracy dreamt up by Barcelona, UNICEF and other authorities. Claiming Real Madrid to be victims of the establishment is ludicrous, and showed Mourinho’s naivety. Real are the most establishment you can get. Barcelona, the team associated with the socialist struggle against General Franco and from the separatist Catalan region, are the challengers to the establishment. Mourinho was fighting for the establishment, whether he realises it or not.
By a quirk of fate, Mourinho and Guardiola renew hostilities at the European Super Cup in August, when Chelsea meet Bayern Munich. Mourinho will relish the meeting, his love for conflict undiminished it would seem, whilst Guardiola was driven mad by the irritating Portuguese in Spain. But Guardiola remained out on top. His team crushed Real 5-0 in their first meeting. When it came to the gruelling sequence of four Clasicos in a fortnight later that season, Barcelona came out on top. They lost in the Spanish Cup final, but won the league and beat Real in the Champions League semi finals. Mourinho could not handle it, resorting to sending his team out, and Pepe in particular, to physically intimidate Barcelona in the Champions League. The last resort of a beaten man is to resort to desperate measures, and Mourinho and Real did just that.
But the Real players hated it. They did not want to be at loggerheads with Barcelona; they were friends with many of their players. They’d won the World Cup together. Mourinho found at Real that he had a group of players who were not easily impressionable, who were not won over easily by his limited methods, which emphasise speed and physique over skill and technique.
Mourinho returns to England a beaten man. Beaten by Guardiola. And it is the irony of all ironies that he claims to have been reunited in a love affair with a club who were so keen to have the man who left Mourinho’s reputation in tatters. They missed out on Guardiola and turned to Mourinho as their last resort, with Pellegrini and Jurgen Klopp unable to be tempted over. You can bet that if Guardiola suddenly decided he quite fancied Stamford Bridge and sent Roman Abramovich a suggestive text, a severance package with Mourinho would come swiftly. Some love affair this will be.