Parisian fans have swooped past frustration and sit in their city with nothing but existential angiush. Oh, what could have been. This was their year, and it was led by the mighty Zlatan. That is, until he was reminded of his humanity and sidelined with an injury.
This week’s show sees us take a look at Sam Allardyce picking up where Spain left off in the tactical genius department, Zlatan raising his hands to the lasers in France’s Classique, Roma continuing their perfect start to the Serie A season, and asking the big question: if Jose Mourinho really can smell goals, then what do they actually smell like?
As the fax machines power down, the covers get put back on the helipads, and the transfer window slams shut (for another 119 days at least), this week’s AFR Voice is here to sift through all of the contracts, loan deals and botched bids, and somehow try to make sense of what is becoming quite possibly one of the strangest days in the modern game. Just be sure to watch out for any deal-scuppering imposters in the Manchester area.
This week we’ll also be talking to journalist and Bundesliga expert Archie Rhind-Tutt about Mesut Özil’s big money move to Arsenal, what fans at The Emirates can expect to see from their record signing, and how the first few weeks of the Bundesliga have panned out.
The return is sweet, but Chelsea’s identity must transcend Mourinho
By Isi Lewis
Can’t live with him and can’t live without him, Jose Mourinho is the loveable rogue who gave Chelsea fans some of the greatest nights of their lives and then left them in a heap with a hangover; the ex they tried to get over. And now he’s coming back.
Real Madrid vs Manchester United. The Special One vs Sir Alex. And so the story continues…
The Champions League returned last night, and while Juventus and PSG already have one foot in the quarterfinals, the colossal fixture between Real Madrid and Manchester United kicks off at the Bernabeu. It’s a truer welcome back in our mind. Ronaldo’s hair will be full of gel, Sir Alex will be wearing multiple watches, and Mourinho will certainly leave us with a memorable quote.
Before you head to your mate’s place to swoon over Özil’s eyes footwork for Valentine’s Day, get informed about how these two sides stack up currently and throughout history. [Infographic by Kitbag. GIF by Dale Con Comba. Posted by Eric]
Today, Mourinho turns 50. Since his managerial career started at Benfica 13 years ago, the man who’s known as the ‘The Special One’ became the first to win the league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, not to mention his pair Champions Leagues. As Inter Milan owner, Massimo Moratti, puts it: “he loves to win.” He really does, but he’s also one who loves to entertain.
"I’m a coach, I’m not Harry Potter. He is magical, but in reality there is no magic. Magic is fiction and football is real." - the quotes are really there for the taking.
Wherever he’s been, his name has not been forgotten; although not even Bobby Robson expected Mourinho to have built such an illustrious successful career for himself. This remark is highlighted in a recent documentary, which is well worth your time.
His future remains more uncertain than ever, whether it’s remaining at Real Madrid, seizing the opportunity to coach the Portuguese national team that still lies in the distance, or returning to England. But some things never change: "I have the same or even more ambition than I did before." [Posted by Dom.]
Or rather, it could turn out to be a profitable living. Mourinho has carefully crafted his career, step-by-step, taking over clubs which are in the perfect state to be taken on to a higher level; Mancini has a track record of taking clubs so far, but then hitting the wall. Having already succeeded him at Inter, Mourinho might realise after his visit to the Etihad this week that Mancini is an expert at creating the sort of conditions he loves to inherit.
Mourinho knows what he’s looking for when he moves on. Chelsea were flush with cash and had gone through the awkward settling-in period which such a dramatic change of financial circumstances inevitably brings. Just ask Claudio Ranieri, Mark Hughes and Antoine Kombouaré about it for confirmation. Inter had got themselves stuck at a level of domestic domination but continental stagnation. Real Madrid needed someone to slay the Catalan dragon.
“It is not normal to sell an image of perfection, because at the end of the day nobody is perfect.” - José. May 6, 2012.
You won’t know why I said it. Lots of people think they know me - that they have the measure of me. None of them do, they say it is something in my character, the impulse that drives me - then two weeks later it will be that I’m such a devious planner and that it’s all mind games. You can’t get your stories straight because it really doesn’t have anything to do with me, this perception of yours. It has everything to do with what you want, and what you need.
Is it some sort of surprise that these things come out of me? You all want football to be a narrative, a story with all the component parts. You want characters: some to cheer and others to shout down. It was the television that did this - the same place you could watch The Lone Ranger became the same place your football lives. Therefore, all the plotlines have to be easy for you, so I make them easy: you’re either with me or against me.