The Cynic Column | Here we go, Mourinho

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If you aren’t still drunk from the league title celebrations, you’ll be aware of the reports insisting that Celtic have made an offer to José Mourinho to become their next  manager.

There are some doubts to the validity of the claim made by Sky Sports Italy, with Celtic supposedly denying the rumour and speculation that it’s all the doing of ‘super agent’ Jorge Mendes, in an attempt to push PSG towards his client, Mourinho. So if you think I’m still going to get over-excited and wildly speculate despite this all this cold water being poured on the story , you’ll be absolutely correct.

What’s in it for José?

The foundation of a good rumour is the element of plausibility – the idea that the fairy-tale is just within the realms of reality. This is no different, making us readily accept the conclusion that this could be a good move for both Celtic and Mourinho.

Firstly, it’s no secret that José likes winning trophies, having collected 25 major honours so far in his career. Upon taking the Manchester United role in May 2016, the esteemed manager was placed in a sink or swim position with the rickety Old Trafford side and he went down with the ship – and what a fall from grace it was.

Compared to his first stint with Chelsea, it was almost like a caricature; the bold, bordering arrogant statements that previously struck fear into opposition were now scoffed at by all. His – sizeable – ego will have been hurting enormously. Mourinho needs a new start to soothe his aching self-esteem and start winning trophies again. Where better than a club going for a Treble Treble and on the cusp of a highly coveted 10 in a row? A very achievable domestic clean sweep and a pet project in Europe might be the breath of fresh air José needs to kickstart his career

How can we forgive him?

I know I’m not alone in harbouring a grudge against Mourinho for that game against Porto. Half of that ire he probably deserves and the other half will be from the sheer disappointment of Celtic coming so close and failing.

We could talk all day about ‘anti-football’ tactics, refereeing decisions and everything else that went on in that game,  but we’ve had 16 yearsof that now and ultimately it doesn’t matter. If he does the job for Celtic, he’s the man. When the other genuine alternative to Neil Lennon is seemingly David Moyes, give me José every single day.

There is a worry about Mourinho’s supposedly defensive playing style. Should that be implemented at Celtic Park, stands would empty and rightly so. Fans pay their money to be entertained and our club’s philosophy boils down to playing “pure, beautiful, inventive football”. My old man grew up watching the tail end of the Lisbon Lions era and always told me as a boy that he fell in love with Celtic because win, lose or draw, we played exciting and attacking football.

Many years later, it was the same thing that drew me in. If Mourinho wanted to bring ‘park the bus’ football to Parkhead then I would be the first to grab the pitchforks. But I don’t think he would.

In Mourinho’s first season with Chelsea, 2004/05, he did seem to set up quite defensively as the underdog to topple the near decade-long dominance of Wenger and Ferguson, winning Chelsea their first title in 50 years.

His team recorded – at that time – the fewest goals conceded in a PL season (15), while also keeping the most clean sheets (25), most wins (29) and points (95). They did score 72 goals, second only to Arsenal’s 87 (who were coming off their invincible season).

When Mourinho successfully defended his title the following season, Chelsea scored 72 again, topping the goal scoring charts alongside Manchester United. That many goals in a league that was arguably the strongest in Premier League history does not suggest a team who didn’t know how to attack.

So, do we take him?

Despite his faults, I would accept José Mourinho in a heartbeat. A manager who is apt at setting up a side to dominate possession but also capable of absorbing pressure and counter attack sounds like the perfect recipe for Celtic.

Domestically, we run like cheetahs but once we step into Europe we look as out of it as a sloth on Valium. Give José the reins and watch us run in both. I don’t necessarily picture an Ajax-like route to the final of the Champions League but it’d be nice not to be knocked out by an Athens side that couldn’t put a point on the board in the groups or who doesn’t get embarrassed by cricket scores in the group stages if Celtic did make it there.

Make it happen, Desmond.

Despite growing up, and now studying, in England, Celtic have always been a huge part of my life. I first watched the team with my dad; I fell in love and then there was no turning back. Torn between a statistically enhanced footballing style and a good, old-fashioned get-it-in-the-mixer-and-score style.

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