Jose Mourinho, manager of moneybags west London club Chelsea FC, is winning trophies and losing friends.
He seems to be admired, envied and hated in approximately equal measures, often simultaneously by the same confused football aficionado (or ‘pub bore’ as they’re often known).
Why the confusion?
Mourinho is talented, very successful, intelligent, usually more polite than most football managers ever are, handsome and smart (in both senses). Envy seems an obvious response, but then the modern sports fan has a plethora of envy models from which to choose, so many in fact that envy becomes boring and hence fades away.
The admiration, too, is explicable. Most non-Chelsea fans would, given only the slightest nudge, acknowledge a respect for the man’s prodigious achievements.
The problem, it seems, is the hatred. Why do the great steaming masses (yes of course this includes me) rise up in a universal expectoration of bile at every perceived faux pas, every smug look, every statement expressing calm and certain superiority?
The question is not whether Mourinho commits these solecisms: every week provides a new instance of a Mourinhism that raises the hackles of stout-hearted, stout-drinking English yeomen. The question is why, in a game full of managers who are crooks, criminals, drunks, bullies, cheats, egotists, liars and backstabbers (excluding the sainted Strachan, who always got away with everything by virtue of not pretending to be a saint), is a little bit of Continental cockiness the new Worst Thing in the World?
I think it’s the scarf.
Follow that link at the top again, and this time examine the man’s scarf. Follow its contours, the precision of the draping, its raffish sweep. This is a scarf that has been put in its place. This scarf is being worn, worn by a man who knows how to wear scarves. (Make no mistake, this scarf is being worn that way for effect: Mourinho also deploys the straight up and down position of scarf in its proper context.)
If ever you needed evidence of the sartorial sensitivity of the British man (you probably did), this is it. The British male has very firm views on the place of scarves, and that place is unequivocably in the cupboard.
This is an attitude bred in from the playground. Scarves are to be worn only when it is freezing enough to make breathing painful. To be bescarved otherwise is to be a mummy’s boy, and therefore beneath contempt. Scarves must therefore be surrogate jumpers: as bulky as half a sheep and nearly as impossible to manage. There is axiomatically no such thing as a light scarf for men in Britain.
For adults, an even more horrifying category than the mummy’s boy is opened up. A man wearing a scarf stylishly self-evidently belongs to at least three of the following groups:
- A playboy
- Hiding something
- Southern European
Given that any combination of these would currently get you marked down as highly suspicious in any self-respecting public house in the country, and therefore a top ten candidate for being placed under house arrest by Charles Clarke. Therefore, with inexorable logic, Jose Mourinho is almost certainly a spy, and should be deported immediately.
I rest my case, m’lud.