The Unfriendly One

About a week and a half ago, Andres Villas-Boas announced to the world that Jose Mourinho is no longer his avb and mourinhofriend. “We had a great personal and professional relationship before. We don’t have that now,” Villas-Boas said in a press conference before Spurs’ 1-1 draw with Chelsea. “I don’t lose any sleep.”

Villas-Boas scouted for Mourinho at Porto, Inter and Chelsea,  but he wanted to participate in training sessions and contribute to game-day meetings. Mourinho saw AVB for the dangerously ambitious football nerd he was, rejected his requests, and lost a friend.  Or so the story goes.

About a week and half ago, some newspapers claimed that Mourinho dropped Juan Mata, arguably the best creator in the Premier League, from Chelsea’s starting XI not because he thinks Mata is slow or weak or friendly with the Spanish internationals who complicated Mourinho’s final season at Real Madrid, but because he wants to make it clear to the playing squad that He Is The Boss.

We’ve always known that Mourinho is petty and self-obsessed – we have heard the Special One sound bites and seen the video in which Mourinho pokes beloved coach/longtime cancer patient Tito Vilanova in the eye. And we’ve always known that he is stubborn – indeed, it’s often claimed that Mourinho’s stubbornness is among his greatest strengths. (There was that time he hid in a laundry basket in the Chelsea dressing room to circumvent a UEFA touchline ban, or that time he refused to speak to the Italian media, or that time he benched Iker Casillas.)

But the Mata and AVB stories highlight two of Mourinho’s less-discussed traits: irrationality and insecurity. Only an insanely irrational manager would marginalize his team’s best player. Only a fundamentally insecure manager would refuse to promote a talented subordinate.

No wonder Mourinho is losing friends.


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