The Special One is back. More prodigal son than black sheep, Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea in a welter of exaggerated humility, which touched the fans, the players and his stinking rich patron Roman Abramovich.
But what’s that around his waist? Could it be that the Special One has a layer of burgeoning fat? There is also a hint of chubbiness in his handsome face and the sexy, tousled silvery hair, that made him look both cool and saintly, has been cheapened by blonde streaks, which robs it of its natural beauty and hints at a bit of vanity.
It’s a good job Jose isn’t looking for a gig as player up the road in Sunderland, where manager Paolo di Canio, declared war on the lackadaisical attitude of some of the modern players, who are on big wages and aren’t delivering.
“If you ought to be 88 kilos and you are 104.8 kilos then you won’t like my regime. It’s just unprofessional, an insult to a real professional.”
Paolo set himself the task of identifying and eliminating players’ bad habits. He obviously found a lot he didn’t like, because he’s banned ketchup, mayonnaise, coffee prior to training and coke and ice the night before a game.
Taking a leaf from the book of fellow Italian, Giovanni Trapattoni’s attitude to singing, Paolo also forbids his team to sing on match days, while Giovanni did his banning the night before a game, as Andy Reid will never forget.
Most significantly, Paolo has banned mobile phones at training and in the dressing-room.
“I’ve said that from now, if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in their bag, I’ll throw it in the North Sea. They’re banned. I say that because it’s not acceptable. I’ve told the players that I’ve adapted to them and been lenient, but I’ve also told them what is and isn’t possible in a new environment.”
This is a sanguine moment in the battle against the scourge of the mobile phone and the culture that goes with it, a lifestyle that is empty and vapid. Texting across a crowded dressingroom, with headphones on, is unlikely to impress Paolo, The Extra Special One, as ideal pre-match preparation.
When they are not kicking a ball, footballers are exactly the kind of fodder that social networks and tabloids thrive on. They make huge money, drive the most expensive cars and rattle around in big mansions with a proven WAG wife, who will hardly be settled in before she sees her footballing spouse’s follies on You Tube. The web catches more than flies.
What’s even more baffling is that the boys are stupid enough to think that their nightclub shenanigans will go unnoticed and unreported. It says a lot about their lack of savvy, but how do you bring them to their senses? Paolo.
If Paolo, The Extra Special One, seems like is a bit of a fascist, its because he is. Confessing openly his admiration for the Italian fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, Paolo makes the distinction that “I am a fascist , but not a racist.” He has landed himself in hot water several times by use of the fascist salute before matches.
“I will always salute as I did because it gives me a sense of belonging to my people … I saluted my people with what for me is a sign of belonging to a group that holds true values of civility against the standardisation that this society imposes upon us.”
I’m with Paolo. Footballers don’t have to act like typical footballers. The standard of celebrity culture in Britain is appalling and Paolo is right in taking a stand against the cokacolanisation of the world, where individualism constitutes a threat.
The Special One, on the other hand, pours sexist petrol on the already blazing inferno of anger at the objectification of women in the media.
Peter Bardsley, one of the veteran hard chaws at Sunderland, doesn’t like Paolo’s new regime and when Sunderland lost their first game 0-1 to Fulham last Saturday, Bardsley reacted to receiving an Instagram photo of the tunnel at the Stadium of Light by disloyally posting a mocking caption.
“Great opening day..Hahahahaha hahahaha.” Bardsley was immediately suspended and his future is now in doubt.
It’s not really a fair fight between The Special One and The Extra Special one. Mourinho has a squad of football virtuosi at his disposal. By comparison, Di Canio has a Chelsea tribute band.
But I’m backing Di Canio, hoping that he’ll get good enough results to prove his point that just as you would maintain a car, or a horse, a footballer should service his talent and not get lulled by celebrity into unprofessional behavior, on and off the field.Article Written by Shay Healy First Published in The Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 24th August 2013 Shay Healy’s latest eBook ‘The Danny Boy Triangle’ is Out Now on Kindle 2.99 Free Kindle Reader – download app