In 36 hours on these shores, Jose Mourinho was involved in a
bigger controversy than all 20 Premier League managers have managed all season
- and that includes the scandal of Phil Brown's
fluffy pink pencil case.
Greater Manchester Police have obviously sorted their war on
guns and drugs because they have the time and inclination to investigate a claim that
the Special One clobbered a United supporter (appropriately enough from East Anglia) in
the face as he left Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
So did, as Mourinho's
growing army of critics would have it, the s**t really hit the fan?
We have absolutely no evidence other than what the United
fan, Inter and the police have said - namely that he did, didn't and might have.
But, much as ED would love to add the thumping of a fan to
a rap sheet that already includes impersonating laundry and fighting police
over a dog, the claim seems far-fetched for one reason only: It is unlikely
that Mourinho could so much as pick his nose without first summoning a
paparazzo to capture the event for posterity, winking and delivering pithy
Even though Jose had just quaffed some expensive wine with
Alex Ferguson, clearly nothing will come from this storm in a glass of
Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The greater concern for the Portuguese is the gradual
erosion of his carefully cultivated image as the best manager in the world.
You see, even though Inter are well clear atop Serie A,
things are not going too well for the Nerazzurri. While we Brits lapped up his
arrogant self-aggrandisement on the grounds that it was quite funny, the
Italians just find him obnoxious and they don't
much rate him as a manager.
Mourinho is known in Italy as 'The
Special Zero' - a fairly lame pun
but indicative of a growing feeling that he might not actually be that good.
Clearly, he wants the Manchester United job. But where
previously the only question was whether United could tolerate his king-sized
ego, there is now a genuine concern that he isn't
up to it.
He was brought to Inter to win the Champions League, but
managed just two wins in eight games including a home defeat to a Cypriot ghost
town. Wednesday's performance was
their best of the season in Europe by a long
way, and they still ended up on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.
These are not his players - as anyone will attest who saw him
spontaneously combust as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli and Adriano
started crashed hit-and-hope 40 yarders into the crowd.
If Mourinho were in the business of punching people, he would probably start with a few of his own players.
- - -
One man who definitely did punch a fan is Brian Clough, a
fictional version of whom stars in The Damned United, a film adaptation of the
excellent book of the same name, which is released on March 27.
ED snuck into a preview last night, disguised as a cleaner,
so if you're interested in what somebody
else thinks about a film you could see yourself in a couple of weeks, this is
your lucky day.
The Damned United follows Clough's
Les Reed-esque 44-day tenure at Leeds in 1974, interspersed with scenes from
the previous six years at Derby
County which chart his
growing obsession with then-Leeds boss and quite literal don of cynical
football Don Revie.
As with all good sports films, it's
not really about sport. Instead, it is basically a love story between Clough
and his long-time assistant Peter Taylor, with Revie as a rather odd bit on the
The climactic scene is a homo-erotic belter, featuring Taylor feeding Clough the
words of a grovelling apology that includes the majestic line: "I'm sorry for being a t**t."
The late 60s and early 70s ambience is captured perfectly,
Saltergate starring in the role of Derby's Baseball ground.
But the football sequences are less convincing, particularly
when it comes to the Leeds squad.
For a start, they have their full names printed on the back
of their tracksuits for easy identification (good job Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
wasn't playing for them in those
And the senior players - Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles -
are rather curious caricatures of themselves.
Clearly, Bremner was a short, stocky man, but he is played
by an actor with the precise physical attributes of a weeble. They might as
well have got Matt Lucas to play the part.
The disparity between the film and reality is shown up when
Bremner's Charity Shield scrap with
Kevin Keegan is interspersed with real archive footage - the Leeds
skipper loses about three stone in half a second.
The film ends with a flash forward from 1974 that shows
Clough winning back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest,
but also delivers a crass and total character assassination of Revie, who is in
no position to defend himself having been dead for 20 years.
Not that he didn't
deserve it, according to captions which, in three short lines, brand Revie a
failure, a mercenary and a crook.
remember exactly what it says, but the film might as well accuse him of
sleeping with animals, funding North
nuclear programme and deliberately sneezing in old ladies'
faces whenever he got a cold.
Still, as long as you're
able to get your head round the concept of fictional account of real events, it's a good film and Michael Sheen - a sort of
big-screen Rory Bremner who also does a mean Tony Blair and David Frost - is excellent
So, if this were Heat magazine, there would probably be a nice,
easily-digestible rating here to save readers the bother of trawling through
So here it is: ****
That's a rating,
not a swear word.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I am currently having to use crutches to walk as I
recently underwent surgery on a knee injury and - astonishingly - one of the
officers even tried to grab the crutches in order to prevent me from 'escaping'."
Victor Anichebe on getting nabbed by bungling police outside a Knutsford
jewellery shop. ED obviously sympathises with the Everton man, but isn't sure about his claim that being a Premier League
footballer is necessarily incompatible with committing a crime.
FOREIGN VIEW: The Italian papers prefer to focus on Mourinho's on-pitch problems (spoilsports) but Corriere
dello Sport has David Trezeguet sticking the boot into Juventus boss Claudio
Ranieri for taking him off during Tuesday's
game against Chelsea:
"I did not understand the substitution at all. Yes, I am very disappointed
as we were winning 2-1 and we just needed to score one goal to go through."
COMING UP: Our bumper weekend team news bonanza is just
hours away, as are the weekly Fantasy column, plus exclusive musings from Jim
White and Danny Murphy. All ED wants to know is why nobody visits the site on a