James Lawton: Mourinho gives lesson to Europe's big spenders

Jose Mourinho's assault on the highest ground of European football, a wonder of upward mobility since his days as Sir Bobby Robson's interpreter, was given its most brilliant thrust by the kind of player who is always likely to burst beyond the tactical rigour of a Champions' League final.

Jose Mourinho's assault on the highest ground of European football, a wonder of upward mobility since his days as Sir Bobby Robson's interpreter, was given its most brilliant thrust by the kind of player who is always likely to burst beyond the tactical rigour of a Champions' League final.

Naturally, Mourinho found him in Brazil. The Porto coach, the man Chelsea want to swim in the vale of tears left by Claudio Ranieri, signed teenager Carlos Alberto in the January transfer window. It was a deal that wouldn't have required Roman Abramovich to reach beyond his back pocket, but in the game which once a year defines the state of European football it served as another impressive statement on the acumen of the 41-year-old who drove a great hole through Manchester United's season with a last-minute triumph at Old Trafford.

It was also a timely lesson for the Russian oligarch, who is preparing more investment in the world market, that signing footballers, for some higher purpose than a flurry of publicity, is something that requires more than a capacity to outspend any rival. Also included in the guide to life at the top of the European game, the point that pursuing 5-0 victories, a goal dear to the heart of the Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, is usually something that belongs in terrace fantasies.

The second lesson came when Mourinho removed Carlos Alberto after an hour ­ just 21 minutes after he had broken the deadlock with a goal of beautiful skill and fine timing. The Brazilian floated a perfectly placed shot beyond Monaco goalkeeper Flavio Roma after a cross by Porto's Paulo Ferreira had bounced off a defender. It was an instinctive strike, the kind of instinct that grows in Brazil along with the coffee beans.

But that was one fine piece of work. Another was the man who came on, Russian midfielder Dmitri Alenichev. Mourinho decided that he wanted more security to protect his lead, but as Monaco's coach Didier Deschamps, who as a player won everything out there from Champions' League to the World Cup and as a coach this season had picked up the hugely expensive scalps of Real Madrid and Chelsea, threw everything into attack, Alenichev simply guaranteed victory.

First, he ran brilliantly alongside Mourinho's master playmaker Deco, to provide the means of a one-two that allowed the latter to gather a perfectly weighted return pass and send the second goal past Roma. Deco was nominated as Porto's most important player by Mourinho before the match, and the way the Brazilian-born midfielder took his chance, with absolute control, was another bonus of a night the Porto coach could only have designed in his most specific dreams.

As Monaco stretched themselves to the point of breakdown, Alenichev struck again with the third goal. The immaculately clad Mourinho, who is also admired by Liverpool and, now, probably all of European football raised his arms to the sky. It was his sky, his stadium, his game, and though some say there is a streak of bumptiousness in this high achiever, it would be a dead spirit which begrudged him a moment of his triumph.

His team didn't just beat the conquerors of Real Madrid. Relentless defence, led by the wonderfully resilient Ricardo Carvalho, squeezed the life out of brilliant players like Fernando Morientes and the man who destroyed Chelsea in the semi-final with his superb wing play, Jerome Rothen, and then Porto went over to the business of wiping away all doubts about their superiority.

Mourinho had promised football that would be infinitely more positive than that produced by the defensive titans of Italy, Milan and Juventus, in this game last year. In the end it was another point of confirmation of his unbeatable sense of what constitutes a successful preparation for a big game. It was a victory built on the soundest foundation of all ­ secure defence and attacks that could be launched so fluently by Deco.

It is widely believed that, wherever Mourinho chooses to develop his career, he will take Deco with him. For the club who make the signing, it will be an extra bonus. Deco's play has sometimes carried a sharper touch but he always has a hard purpose in a team which had been brought to its moment of great trial with superb judgement. Mourinho's substitutes worked, dream-like, and so did his fundamental belief that you make a football club with trust.

If Chelsea do lure football's man of a moment of great achievement, they are plainly acquiring a huge asset. He has proved he can win the greatest club prize. He can also teach the most crucial lesson. You build success in football on judgement and heart and instinct, not just the dull outlay of vast amounts of money.

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