Sport on TV: Wine and whine as Fergie wants more time added on
Sunday 09 December 2012
Jose Mourinho is such a curious bird, with such dazzling plumage, it would be entirely natural if David Attenborough did the voiceover for a documentary about him. The Special One has, of course, been ruffling feathers ever since he converted himself from Bobby Robson's translator into one of the great football managers. In a sport not renowned for advancing the cause of humanity, he represents an evolutionary tour de force.
So it's no surprise the makers of Mourinho (ITV4, Monday) should have consulted Desmond Morris. The anthropologist calls him a "witch doctor" who knows how to "work some magic". What category Sir Alex Ferguson falls into is not specified – screaming banshee, perhaps – but His Imperial Highness is also interviewed in depth and is surprisingly generous about his former nemesis at Chelsea. "I give him a lot of stick, you know, a lot of stick," says Ferguson of their wine-swilling encounters in his office. "And he laughs it off. He's got that sort of personality." How Chelsea could do with him coming back.
In terms of footballing evolution, the great unknown is who will take over from Ferguson at Manchester United, and the incumbent makes no bones about the fact Mourinho could do the job. But Sir Alex is worried that Jose will overtake his haul of 45 trophies. What if he carries on until he's 65? "In that case he would have 50-odd trophies. He's a greedy bugger." So now we know why Ferguson is refusing to retire.
The idea of Mourinho sitting around supping Fergie's burgundy in the company of Big Sam and 'Arry is an intriguing one. He obviously manages to endear himself to his rivals with his charm, even when he rubs them up the wrong way, and that charisma rubs off on his players. Morris says he is "the only manager to celebrate in exactly the same way as the players. That makes him the leader of the gang." It works like a charm.
Not everyone, however, has been seduced by the siren voice. Chelsea's reporting of Frank Rijkaard for allegedly chatting to the referee in a match against Barcelona, resulting in death threats to the official, was a low point even by Chelsea's standards, and Mourinho has not endeared himself to a sequence of Barça bosses. The club seem to be his own bête noire, even before he went to Real.
To see Mourinho whispering into the ear of Pep Guardiola as he was trying to give instructions to his Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the touchline, you could almost see the old translator's skills at work. No doubt Mourinho, with his winning record, doesn't even like losing anything in translation.
* Hats off and in the ring for Andrew Flintoff after he won his first, and hopefully only, professional boxing fight. But it was rather strange that the eight-month build-up should be recorded in a three-part documentary for Sky while the actual fight was shown on BoxNation.
In the concluding episode of From Lord's to the Ring (Sky One, Thursday), Flintoff had a warm-up fight in Belfast before the big night, in which he was told off by trainer Shane McGuigan for crossing his legs when he sat in his corner after the first round. If he had sipped a glass of sherry he could not have provided stronger evidence that he is not a natural pugilist.
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