An important game, a debatable red card for a red shirted protagonist, and two larger than life personalities who have their own unique way of seeing the world they inhabit . You maybe forgiven for thinking this will be all about the cause and symptoms of Manchester United’s elimination from the Champions League by Real Madrid, but no I am leaving the narrative for someone else and focusing on the hyperbole.
This piece is therefore more about what was said, than what was done. It joins two-time periods and two comparable “cup related” incidents and is populated by similarly enigmatic “larger than life” characters punctuated bt two memorable quotes.
Two extrusion’s – both high kicks – is what unites the events to which I refer: Nani’s on Alvaro Arbeloa’s during the recent Manchester United Real Madrid Game and Eric Cantona on a Crystal Palace Fan 23rd january 1995. However what it is that defines them both is the bizarrely enigmatic quotes, by equally enigmatic characters, that the individual action spawned. No one can forget the sound of drooping jaws being manually eased back up from the floor, and the puzzled looks, after Eric Cantona unleashed his famous Seagulls quote: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
The statement, in and of itself, is suitably intriguing, and has been the source of much speculation. As to the meaning, one can only presume it is a comment on his fame, position and the magnetic “pull” he has had on the media throughout his career. Of course Cantona “The King” to the Old Trafford faithful was centre stage, and it his quote about the event that came to dominate.
Similarly a quote from the 5th March 2013 game may come to overshadow events, even that of the decision made by the Turkish referee which currently dominates. If I say I am drawing parallels with another character, like Cantona who is not short on self belief, then there only can be one candidate. And that is “The Special One”, Jose Mourinho.
Though certainly not as enigmatic as the famous quote by Eric Cantona, the Jose Mourinho statement regarding Sir Alex Ferguson, heard on Radio 4 Today 6th march 2013 within a Mike Ingham Sports report, is also a show stopper.
When answering a question about the wisdom of Wayne Rooney’s late entry to the Champions League game Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager said “we shouldn’t question Ferguson’s team selection” or Sir Alex’s decisions generally -or do I mean universally?
“Sir Alex, won the right over the years, of every decision is correct, and every decision should never have a question mark in front. He is the best, he is the top; he creates an incredible history. You are nobody; I am nobody, to put a question mark in front. And his team was very well organised. Defensively it was fantastic”.
“The Special One” tag might soon be commuted to the “omnipotent one” or even “The Riddler” or plausibly even “Jose Enigmatico” The “after this statement. He not only subverted the natural law of football by lauding another manager at a screaming pitch usually reserved for a deity, but more importantly he said he was a “nobody to put a question mark in front!” An alternate reading is he is the somebody who can put the question mark behind: and Real Madrid certainly asked some footballing questions of Manchester United over the two ties.
Beyond a new nickname Jose Mourinho may have gained something else after his press conference comments. His paean to the virtues Of Sir Alex Ferguson, a man who will have a big say in who is his successor, cannot have gone unnoticed and there will soon be a vacancy in a very hot seat (i.e. The Red Devils”). Perhaps a “high kick”, an elimination and a red card brings out the best in the red devils? Short term Chelsea Hopes (FA Cup Tie) not and long term Jose Mourinho hopes so.
Mourinho knows that his position would be cemented in Folklore if he could win the Champions League with five separate clubs. It brings “high pressure” but that is his best game. if you can’t do longer do more with more!
As with the Press conference on the night the last words must stay with Mike Phelan; and on this basis he has the potential to coin a few enigmatic comments of his own.
“I think it speaks volumes. We all saw and witnessed a decision which seemed very harsh, possibly incredible”. A comment on the game? Or prescient one on not giving Mourinho The Manchester United Managers job? Or maybe even on his fate when he is not even interview for the job?