Perhaps it was the growth of tension before tomorrow night's ordeal by Ronaldinho and Messi at the Nou Camp. Maybe it is that Jose Mourinho truly believes that his success as a coach has put him beyond the judgement of mere football mortals. But, whatever the explanation, he would be wise to review film of his performance at West Bromwich Albion.
He should dwell particularly on the evidence of the outrage his behaviour and that of one of his key players, Didier Drogba, had clearly etched on the face of a rival manager and - here we will be a little cavalier with our terminology - fellow football man, Bryan Robson.
Although sometimes Mourinho seems to imply that the world game was in a state of rather primitive development before his graduation from translator and lackey to Sir Bobby Robson to Special One, surely he must have some respect for great figures from the past and an awareness that, in his adopted football land, few men carry the cachet of Robson.
As a manager at Middlesbrough and West Brom Robson has been touched by both success and failure and now, with his shoestring resources, he fights for survival again at The Hawthorns. Last season he performed a unique feat, leading a team bottom of the table at Christmas to salvation in the relegation battle. This, it might be argued, was an achievement that in some way was as worthy of respect as leading a Chelsea team built on the foundation of Roman Abramovich's wealth to the Premiership title.
However, this is academic. Mourinho, no one can argue, has shown a superb talent for motivating rich footballers at Stamford Bridge, and before that he won the Champions' League with relatively slender resources at Porto. There is no argument here; large aspects of Mourinho's talent are not in question, only his understanding of what might be reasonably expected of a man in his position when football is so riven by cheating and arrogance.
The point about Robson's rage, his willingness to exchange rough language with a fellow manager, is that it flew against his nature.
We know of Mourinho's liking for touchline capers. The finger to the lips, the fist to the sky, the thumbing of his nose. That is his style and, within limits, it can be accepted, far more easily certainly than his outrageous double standards when passing judgment on his own players and those of the opposition, not to mention casually and untruthfully blackening the name of a match official who had provoked his ire. But none of this is the game of Robson, the former Captain Marvel. Robson was a great player, a great warrior and he would no more cheat than he would refuse to accept any challenge offered to him by the game that has been his life.
This is the perspective Mourinho would be wise to consider if he sees again the contorted face of Robson. The West Bromwich manager was most angered by Chelsea's imperious arrival for the second half three minutes late, Mourinho's apparently amused reaction, and then Drogba's portrayal of serious injury right up to the moment when he was next obliged to touch the ball. Robson alleged that this was an attempt to have his player, Jonathan Greening, sent off.
No doubt the Football Association will consider reports on the behaviour of both managers and they will surely look at film which depicts their raw anger on the touchline, including Mourinho's ironic applause of Mark Halsey when he sent off Arjen Robben for a two-footed tackle on Greening.
Mourinho and his supporters were outraged when in the wake of the Anders Fisk affair last season he was accused of being an "enemy of football" by a Uefa official. That was a heavy charge indeed. But then if you look at the latest evidence it has to be asked: was that the behaviour of a friend?Reuse content