Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ugly Truth for Jose Is That He Must Go

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ugly Truth for Jose Is That He Must Go

Article excerpt

IT SPEAKS with needless eloquence of a certain coach's allure that, as this football season hurtles towards an explosive finale, the most captivating battle in prospect is the one over Jose Mourinho's future. It shouldn't be this way. What we ought to be debating is the droolworthy possibility of Manchester United and Chelsea meeting thrice in a fortnight, in a three-part series to bring to mind the epic trio of fights between Muhammad Ali and Smokin' Joe Frazier.

First up is the potential title decider at Stamford Bridge on 9 May, 10 days later comes the FA Cup Final and then on 23 May in Athens is the Champions League Final. Neither club is a shoo-in to reach the latter, of course, AC Milan and Liverpool being dangerous respective semi-final opponents for United and Chelsea.

Yet the struggle for supremacy between Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson has an internal dynamic that seems to be driving them towards the most dramatic conclusion to a trilogy Athens will have hosted since the first night of The Eumenides completed Aeschylus's Oresteia.

Hearing the siren call of pretension and lacking the will to resist it, I'm tempted to portray Mourinho as that Greek tragic archetype, the hero whose insanely arrogant belief in his godly perfection attracts Nemesis. Majority opinion, however, sources the real lunacy to Roman Abramovichfor wishing to replace him.

This faction grows by the day, with ever more frequent declarations of disbelief at the imminent sacking of such a successful coach. Its leader, needless to say, is Mourinho himself, who has waged a crude but effective PR campaign to cast himself as a delicate little plant being stamped on by a giant pair of Russian hobnails.

With Chelsea challenging for the Quadruple this is obviously a powerful argument, but I disagree with it profoundly and believe that, however the rest ofthis beguiling season pans out, Abramovich should resist the mounting pressure to change his mind, even if the pair apparently hugged and made up after yesterday's extra-time win over Blackburn. …

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