Ken Jones: Mourinho lowers benchmark for anger management

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It may come as a surprise to the younger element of football supporters to learn that not many years have slid by since coaching from the touchline was strictly forbidden and managers were required to remain in their seats.

It may come as a surprise to the younger element of football supporters to learn that not many years have slid by since coaching from the touchline was strictly forbidden and managers were required to remain in their seats.

No matter how vigorously the football fraternity argued for change, pointing out time and time again that it was often necessary to refresh the memories of players while matches were in progress, the rule was rigidly enforced, if not always obeyed to the satisfaction of the authorities.

What brings this to mind, although in fact it has been at the back of my mind for some time, is the incident during the Carling Cup final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, last Sunday when the Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was dismissed from the dug-out for making a provocative gesture in the direction of Liverpool fans.

The fact that Mourinho has since apologised, and been defended by the League Managers' assistant chairman Frank Clark, who saw nothing to justify the attention the incident has been given, is neither here nor there.

What we are talking about here is the frequency with which the actions of managers and coaches fill our television screens, exhibiting their highs and lows, their pleasure and frustration, the focus suggesting that they and not their players are central to proceedings.

Let's turn back the clock a bit. Either in books or on television, most people, I imagine, are familiar with the shot of Alf Ramsey sitting calmly on the touchline in the closing moments of the 1966 World Cup final as Geoff Hurst broke away to seal England's victory over West Germany. It would have been easy, it would have been forgivable, for Ramsey to join in the celebrations. But the story goes, and I believe it to be true, that his only response to the leaping bedlam all about him was to tell England's trainer Harold Sheperdson to sit down.

That was nearly 39 years ago. As Duke Ellington said, there have been some changes made. Before we get on to Fifa's introduction of technical areas from which coaches can now make their instructions and admonishments heard without incurring the wrath of officials, it is worth recalling that Franz Beckenbauer, as manager of West Germany at the 1990 World Cup finals, probably set the fashion of watching games from a standing position. It was taken up in this country by Kenny Dalglish during his time as Liverpool manager, and soon became commonplace.

I once asked Beckenbauer why he chose to watch matches from ground level when a loftier position afforded a view from which he could observe more clearly the shifting patterns of play and any unforeseen tactical problems set by the opposition. Pointing out that he had coaches in the stand who would supply any relevant information, he said, "I think it's important to see things from the players' perspective and be close to any problems they might be having."

Both as a club manager, and when England coach, Terry Venables invariably watched the first half from a seat in the stand, the second half on the touchline, a common practice in British football. "Once the game has started, the coach concentrates on matters about which he can do little until the interval," Venables said. "You may want to make substitutions in the second half so it is better then to be closer to the play. As for Mourinho's gesture on Sunday, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Players do it all the time and nobody accuses them of incitement."

To my mind this is loose thinking. Both in Barcelona last week, when he accused the home team's coach Frank Rijkaard of visiting the referee's room during the interval - who, in their right mind, would take such a public step to influence an official? - and in Cardiff, the Chelsea manager took things too far.

When referring to Sunday's incident, the fourth official Phil Crossley said: "It is in my jurisdiction to make sure Mr Mourinho keeps strictly in the technical area. But he went 10 or 15 metres along the touchline. That's not acceptable behaviour. I felt it was a public order issue."

A personal point of view is that Fifa was courting trouble when it conceded to coaches the right of close contact with their teams during play. On the other hand, you may feel that coaches can't win. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

England's elimination from the 2004 World Cup by Brazil, failing to take advantage of Ronaldinho's dismissal, brought Sven Goran Eriksson under heavy fire for remaining stoically in his seat as the game slipped away from him.

Lack of passion is not a charge that will ever be delivered at Mourinho's door. It is in his blood. If only he'd calm down.

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