Posted August 28, 2013

Jose Mourinho: The Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of Trolling

Plus more from the second weekend of the EPL season

Riffs

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There are two types of trolls in this world. There’s the mouth-breathing, keyboard-smashing YouTube comment section gen-pop, who antagonize through sheer force of will. One second you’re gleefully watching a chubby bulldog puppy eat a cupcake, the next you’ve been bamboozled into a disturbing comment section discussion about an Illuminati conspiracy to ban all-terrain vehicles (“Der commin’ for our quads!”)

Those trolls are easily discarded.

But then there’s the other, most sinister breed of troll — the winking, shoulder-shrugging, vaguely-French saboteur who prefers a more subtle form psychological manipulation. If you’ve ever been dragged to a party that you didn’t want to go to, you’ve surely been forced to talk to this person. “Madoff? He was merely providing liquidity,” the troll might say. “But I suppose you don’t really understand the market.”

Jose Mourinho fits into this latter category. The Chelsea manager is 50 years old. This is sometimes hard to remember, because Mourinho so often employs the devious psychological theatrics of a 10-year-old child. All summer long, he’s been telling want-away Manchester United striker and Bosley-success-story Wayne Rooney that his parents don’t love him anymore. Come to Chelsea, Mourinho said. We’ll let you stay up late and drink Stella and get quasi-fat, so long as can still score goals.

This kind of emotional manipulation goes on all the time in the Monopoly-money economy of world football. But it’s important to remember that Rooney is a borderline nutter who cannot fall asleep at night without the noise of his wife’s hairdryer, so Mourinho’s tampering was especially exploitative. If I was second choice at my club, I would want to leave, too, Mourinho kept hinting in the press.

Yikes. That’s some devious Daddy-Issues psychology.

As this sad courtship stretched out all summer long, savvy observers kept asking, “Why in the world do Chelsea even want Rooney?”

True, Rooney is just 27. But he looks like a black-and-white photograph of a soot-faced 27-year-old from wartime Britain — brined in hardship, hard liquor, and bean rations to look prematurely crusty. Nevermind the fact that Rooney looks like he’s seen some things, he’s also not the type of big, talisman striker that Mourinho has previously employed to conquer England and mainland Europe.

Besides, United had already rejected two Chelsea bids for Rooney. Yet Mou prattled on, insisting that Rooney wanted to leave.

So what game was Mourinho playing?

On Monday, as Chelsea took the field at Old Trafford, it all became abundantly clear. The mood in Manchester was electric, but chaotic. As Rooney walked out of the tunnel to play for/against his future club, United supporters chanted “Rooney! Rooney!”

Then the visiting Chelsea fans cloyingly chanted the same.

It was totally bizarre, and exactly the kind of melodrama that Mourinho relishes. If you have ever watched studio wrestling, you already knew how this match was going to play out. Mourinho power-strutted up and down the sideline, channeling his Vince McMahon spirit animal. He instructed his team to collapse, defend, and when things were starting to go pear-shaped, simply roll under the ropes and take a little time-out at ringside ala Ric Flair.

Chelsea snuffed all life out of the game.

Deadlocked at nil-nil, Manchester United threw players forward in the game’s waning moments in a last-ditch attempt to score.

Then it happened. Pure, unfiltered Mou. A classic troll.

Chelsea desperately cleared the ball away from their goal, and it bounced in the direction of Mourinho, who stood with his tippy-toes on the edge of the white touchline. A blue shirt and a red shirt raced frantically toward the ball, and for a moment it looked like we were about to see an acrobatic battle to save it. Just as the ball floated over the white line and not a moment before, Mourinho reached out his arms. He didn’t just grab the ball. He passive-aggressively shoed it away, wasting another four seconds.

It was totally pointless, which is precisely why it was so utterly infuriating, not just to the 70,000 United fans in attendance, but to the millions watching his “massive” clash on television who had to settle for 90 minutes of nothingness. It almost seemed as if Mourinho preferred drawing to winning, just to deprive the United supporters of the most basic of pleasures — raging on radio call-in shows.

To cap it off, Mourinho flailed his arms in a scissor motion to his players, as if to say, “Stop trying. This is over.”

And it was. After the game, Mourinho twisted the knife once more in his post-match interview, “praising” Rooney for his effort in the face of a made-for-TV drama that was singlehandedly orchestrated by Mourinho himself: “He was fantastic,” Mourinho said, pulling his best Who Me? face. “After that he wants to leave? He has to say. Or he decided now he doesn’t want to leave any more. His problem.”

His problem.

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Stoppage time

  • Big ups to Cardiff City, who shocked Manchester City 3-2 in their first home game since being promoted to the Premier League. No ‘big club’ loses to minnows with quite the ramshackle ineptitude of Manchester City. Also, City keeper Joe Hart looks like he’s a Bluetooth and/or glittery-T-shirt enthusiast.
  • Arsenal did Arsenal things at Craven Cottage, slicing through a lackadaisical Fulham side 3-1. Lukas Podolski continues to be the best striker in the world in totally meaningless situations. Surely now Arsene Wenger will have him on the bench because he hyperextended a feeling.
  • Tottenham continue to penalty kick their way to the EPL title.
  • Liverpool’s front three are dangerously creative and their back seven dangerously mundane. Sixth place, here we come. Why did Chelsea let go of Daniel Sturridge? His goal against Aston Villa was pure class. Speaking of which …

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Goal of the Week

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool. Check out the dummy by Coutinho to make it happen.

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Dive of the Week

Chelsea’s Ashley Cole tackles himself. Shameful.

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Tweet of the Week

Paddy Power visualizes the scene after Chelsea snatched Brazilian playmaker Willian from the grasp of Tottenham.

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Chant of the Week

Cardiff City fans to Manchester City:

You’re just a s**** Man United.
A s**** Man United.

Too true.

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