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Mourinho, Managers, Money and the Modern Day Game

Written by on April 27, 2011 | 17 Comments »
Posted in General, The Training Ground

About the author Kevin – I live in Chicago and have been lucky enough to be around soccer all of his life.  In 2008, he had an opportunity to work in the AS Monaco FC Centre de Formation, the youth academy inside the Stade Louis II.  It was a thrill.  Since then I have bounced around a few other jobs trying to stay involved in the sport.

I love the game and hope you enjoy my article.

Barcelona legend and the man largely seen as the philosophical benefactor to the current brilliance enjoyed by Catalonian fans, Johan Cruyff took a shot at Jose Mourinho in the wake of Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey triumph.

“He only cares about the result and doesn’t care much for good football” the Dutchman claimed.

Removing this zinger from the context of the often entertainingly petty and wonderfully never ending feud between the two clubs, it is a striking statement that poses interesting questions to the modern day manager.

What is the job of the manager in today’s game?  What is the full scope of his responsibilities?

To develop players?  Win?  Entertain?  For the more ethereal of us – promote some sort of footballing purity?  For the more cynical – make money?

I am sure I am taking this debate well beyond the original intentions of Cruyff’s quip, but I think his comment offers an opportunity for reflection.

In a way, Jose Mourinho is guilty as charged.  He is very much concerned with titles.  With the 2011 Copa del Rey victory, the former translator has now won a trophy in each of the last 6 seasons, an amazing accomplishment and a mouth-watering line on a resume for owners around the world.

But he is also without question a tactical Stradivarius and does very much care about Cruyff’s “good football”.

Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid’s footballing accomplishment in the Copa del Rey Final can not be denied.

They played with irresistible passion and murderous intensity.  They were organized and disciplined on defense and decisive and cutting on the attack.  They defeated what may come to be seen as one of the greatest groups of players of all time in the current Barcelona side and finally handed one of the world’s most storied and successful clubs in history their first title in almost 3 years.

Football ideologies aside, even Cruyff after a moment’s thought and the flow of blood evenly distributed away from his head, would have to concede the merit of their performance and the undeniable presence of “good football” on display last Wednesday night at the Mestalla.

With the criticism of Mourinho in its proper place, the more interesting point of Cruyff’s comment lays waiting to be contended.

From Manchester City’s continued rise to relevance on the back of unprecedented spending to Chelsea’s 80 million dollar signing of Fernando Torres, football is big business, and this is news to no one.

Cogs in the wheel, managers are a part of this reality.  In the end, they put the money making goods on the field; however, even Sir Alex Ferguson can not deny his inescapable dependence on and participation in the commercial side of the game.

Managers teeter on a paper thin edge that separates the purity of sport from the necessary commercial realities of the business of football.

And they suffer for it.

They are both held responsible to the interests of the fans, players, and sport as well as those of the owners, sponsors, and marketing departments.

At times, success and failure become muddled.  They take on new meanings as conflicting interest compete to make a manager’s job at best thankless and at worst a losing battle.

I think Cruyff’s quote in a way is almost endearing.  Beneath the snarky, arrogant surface, his words almost vent a frustration with the unstoppable contemporary forces in the game, forces that have brought football to television in HD around the world but threaten to pervert its beauty and simplicity.

With the space shrinking for this voice and perspective to be heard with any meaning, I for one can overlook his hot tempered slight, and appreciate the stubbornness with which he defends his David against the Goliath of unavoidable transformations in the sport we love.

For better or worse, football is always on the move.

 

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17 responses to “Mourinho, Managers, Money and the Modern Day Game”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    For those like our friends McManamon and Wynalda who keep “proselytizing” that Barca will progress to the finals… go take a look at the massive difference on their benches today, it’s enough to make you cringe!

  2. rdm says:

    So now that Real have to chase this series and will be missing Pedro and Ramos what can we expect for the next game? Will it be another 5-0 thrashing?

    It’s like the Spain v Holland WC final all over again, only both teams are Spanish… more or less. 😮

  3. Sometimes what goes up on the screen just does not reflect the moment. Right after Messi’s second goal the tag goes up “11 goals in 11 matches” – it just seemed so out of place.

    Messi scores one of the truly great goals of the season. It would be akin to describing Sgt Pepper as the 11th #1 album from the Beatles (if it was their 11th).

    The goal was just so much more than a goal.

  4. RDM – maybe a 0-0 draw?

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    Can’t believe Madrid started without an out and out striker. If it were up to me, I’d start Kaka and Higuain in the next match and have Ronaldo come off the bench….. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!

    In the US, the match was broadcast on FX Channel and had an American NFL type host who clearly belonged in shoulder pads and a jock strap. I’d like to thank them for forcing me to watch numerous high profile matches on Fox Deportes this season… as my Spanish language skills haves greatly improved!

  6. SL – didn’t they start in the Copa final the same way?

  7. brklynstrr says:

    Mourinho says barca have power and there is no way to stop the refs helping…didnt inter milan win last year…sorry jose…your comments dont jive

  8. J Hughes says:

    Very insightful and well written article “Mourhino…and the Modern Day Game” .
    A story of well paid coaches trying to marshal unbelievable talent and answer to competing pressures.-JH

  9. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – You are correct. I just thought that considering Iniesta’s absence and all the momentum in Madrid’s corner, Mourinho would attempt to throw Pep a curve ball and at least start one of Kaka, Benzema or Higuain.

  10. AntonioSaucedo says:

    Players win and lose games. Managers don’t win games but they can lose them, just like Mourinho did today. We have to stop praising and rewarding destructiveness. Nobody in his right mind would exalt Al Qaeda for 9/11. Mourinho is the Osama Bin Laden of football. And tonight he got punished for his cowardly and un-Real Madrid-like tactics. I hope the next stop for him is a cave in Afghanistan. Or Italy.

  11. Roberto Manita says:

    Well said AS. My thoughts exactly. Jose needs his anti-football tactics run out of Spain. Send him back to England as they love him there. Jose is vastly over-rated as a manager. Great CV sure. Over-rated absolutely. Di Maria is on a yellow (from prior CL matches) and if he gets a yellow in the second half, the Argentine is out of the 2nd leg. What does Jose do at half time? He takes out Ozil for Adebayor. I have no problem bringing on Adebayor but not for Ozil. It should have been for Di Maria (under the yellow card circumstances). Let’s not blindly drink the Kool-Aid that Jose is all that. I’m not drinking it.

    And has anyone noticed just how grey TSO’s hair has gotten recently? He deserves another manita in the 2nd leg … for the love of football make it so.

  12. Soccerlogical says:

    Relax people, its Mou’s first year at the club and in La Liga…. JEEZ!

    PS And to use a simile of Mourinho & Bin Laden is just moronic!

  13. Roberto Manita says:

    At least bin Laden believes firmly in a religion. I suppose Jose does too … anti-football. So yeah, they’re both religious fanatics.

  14. Roberto Manita says:

    Maybe Jose can work as bin Laden’s translator?

  15. Al Harris says:

    Folks, I hardly ever end up on SL’s side, but please, this is soccer or football or whatever; it’s a game. It’s not religion or politics. I don’t like Jose much although I respect his accomplishments, but to talk about him as if he is Al Queda is just asinine. Let’s keep it on the field of play, please. And this comes from a Barca fan before somebody drills me for a sour grapes Real rooter. I just like to see the beautiful game. Let’s hope we see more of it.

  16. Nathan says:

    Dear god to see Mourinho cry & whine after the match just brings shear joy & content to my heart & soul, its priceless! Somewhere up on the Bernabeu directors box Florentino Perez must have been scratching his head and clinching his fists in anger wondering why oh why did he spend over €400 million on this team only to have them sit back like a bunch of scared school girls in a Champions League Semi-Final at the Bernabeu no less… absolutely pathetic!!

    Santiago Bernabeu must be turning over in his grave somewhere.
    Mourinho is such a fool these negative tatics were bound to fail sooner rather than later, the less of the ball you have the more likely you are to commit stupid mistakes trying to get it back, case in point Pepe.
    This especially true when your strategy consists of sitting back deep consistenly fouling the oppostion by unjust means and or time-wasting, all while hoping that your far superior rivals make a mistake and gift you with a goal!

    Mourinho got his just desserts, you know what they say about payback being a you know what. Madrid has no chance in hell of turning this tie around its over and Mou & Madrid would do themselves a favor by not even showing up at the Camp Nou as they will only embarrass themselves further & thats doubly true if they actually try and attack Barça!

    Before making accusations of unjustly won Champions League titles by Guardiola someone should remind Mourinho of how incredibly lucky he was to knock out Barcelona last year, first they had to endure a 20 hour or so bus-ride to Milan thanks to the Volcanic eruption in Iceland then Inter scored a goal clearly offside at San Siro & lets not we forget Barcelona had a legitimate goal disallowed in the return leg at Camp Nou among other non calls, so much for Jose’s conspiracy excuses!

    I can see it now Mourinho will most likely pack his bags or get fired during the summer & return to England & on the offchance that he does stay I can only imagine Guardiola will be even more motivated to stay as long as necessary in order to drive Mourinho away from Spain.
    Mark my words Mourinho will win nothing of note in Spain(a lucky Copa Del Rey counts for little) he will leave with his head in shame & his Spanish adventure will be regarded as a total failure by the world over!

  17. AntonioSaucedo says:

    Zé’s post-game press conference proves not that he’s smart but that many journalists –and some Barça executives– aren’t. Instead of focusing on how cowardly and destructively –hence the comparison with OBL– Real played, everybody’s paying attention to the off-the-field/UEFA nonsense. Zé got away with it for another week. Next week he’s toast though. Having the most expensive footie team ever assembled play like a fearful second-rate side will not be tolerated by the madridistas. Or will it?

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