Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Boring Mourinho? You’re a spoilsport!

Published:Friday | May 1, 2015 | 5:00 AM

The English Premier League season is winding down. Chelsea, who are sitting comfortably at the top of the league with a 13-point lead, need only to win one of their last four games to win their fourth title in the last decade.

Chelsea's brilliant run this season cannot be denied. Once they got their noses in front, they have never relinquished the lead. They allowed an eight-point gap to slip and were level with Manchester City at one point, but they have for the entire season been at the top of the tree.

As an aside, although he has spent virtually all season leading the tables, Chelsea's coach Jose Mourinho has never been recognised as Coach of the Month. This accolade has been given to others who haven't put together the kind of results he has. It does make you wonder how much emotion, as opposed to unbiased analysis, goes into these Coach of the Month selections.

 

heavy criticism

 

Despite Chelsea's post-to-post effort, Mourinho has faced heavy criticism for his supposed boring style. It got to the point where Arsenal supporters openly booed Chelsea last week during their 0-0 draw. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Mourinho have never seen eye to eye, and Mourinho once describing Wenger as a "specialist in failure" may still be hurting. Other managers have also criticised Mourinho for his 'dull' style of play.

I find the whole thing hilarious. I have discussed this with many Jamaicans here, and many are also of the view that Mourinho is boring and is not their idea of a good coach.

This business about attractive free-flowing football is all well and good. We all want to see that, but most of the criticism that Mourinho is facing is coming from rival fans or from people who really don't have too much investment in the results of these games and merely want a spectacle. These people, therefore, ought not to be taken seriously.

 

results REALLY matter

 

When results REALLY matter to a fan, no good result is boring. When next Jamaica lines up at the National Stadium for a World Cup qualifier against the USA or Costa Rica, for example, I care not HOW we play. What is important to me is whether Jamaica can get three points. If we win those games, I will find the game exciting! Sure, I want to be entertained, but the best way for my team to entertain me is to beat the opposition!

Football coaches, generally speaking, can't be overly concerned with entertaining fans. That can't be their mission statement. Those in Jamaica who criticise Mourinho are strange people who reason about sports conveniently. I can't think of any other sport where coaches get criticised for being boring when they are getting results.

If Jamaica's Sunshine Girls win the next World Championships, Jill McIntosh will be lauded, irrespective of how the team plays. If Phil Simmons can turn around the fortunes of the West Indies and make us start beating the big teams again, nobody would talk about him being boring, whatever the team's style of play.

I want the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA. How they do it is irrelevant and immaterial. Why do football coaches have to operate by different rules? This business about football being a beautiful game is a cliche that has caused our thinking to be warped. Sometimes, you have to grind out ugly results, as happens in every other sport, and the coaches who can consistently do that must be praised, not pilloried.

Football coaches are there to come up with strategies to beat the opposition. Mourinho's so-called 'park-the-bus' mentality has made him one of the most successful modern-day coaches, and that is how he must be judged.

So what if you park the bus? Why do opposing teams have a problem with a team that parks the bus if that team is consistently outperforming you?

Floyd Mayweather is known to be a better defensive fighter than the more explosive Pacquiao. Can you imagine how stupid Pacquiao would sound if Mayweather outpoints him tomorrow and Pacquiao then criticises Mayweather for being boring?

We in sports tend to place too much emphasis on style as opposed to substance. I can't see how a coach's team is leading a league by 13 points and is receiving any criticism whatsoever!

Mourinho does rub people the wrong way. He is brilliant at the mind games and at times acts like a spoilt brat, but he is a football coach. He is not a religious leader. Only Manchester City have scored more goals than Chelsea in the English Premier League. The 'boring' talk is, therefore, stupid and unfair. Let's give the man his due.

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host on KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.