One thing we can all agree on, I think, is that hardly does a José Mourinho press conference pass without something quote-worthy. Following yesterday's loss in the penalty shootout lottery, he declared his team the better of the two sides - certainly not an outlandish claim over the first 90 minutes, 11-v-11 - and then went ahead and made some seemingly silly comments about refereeing and red cards that happen whenever he plays against teams managed by Pep Guardiola.
"I played two or three times with 10 men against Barça. I went to Inter and played a Champions League semi-final, one hour, with 10 men against Barcelona. I go to Real Madrid, I played again a Champions League semi-final with 10 men."
"Now I come back to Chelsea and played a Super Cup final with 10 men again, and go to analyse the actions and make your conclusions. I’m unlucky. Just that."
Hey, I thought we took José's tinfoil hat away from him! Plus, you know Mr. Manager, Guardiola's not the only common thread in all those matches.
But if we look a bit closer, is there something more subtle hiding behind the overt insinuations of conspiracies and cosmic injustices?
"If you ask me in pure terms, rule by rule, yes it was a second yellow card. But you don’t do this every action in that way."
So really, there's nothing to complain about is there? Even Mourinho recognizes that Ramires's tackle was a (yellow) card-worthy offense. Dangerously coming over the top of the ball like that, one could easily make an argument for a straight red, even. So what's Mourinho's game? If he agrees that it was a second yellow, why frame his response to the obvious question in such a contentious manner?
"People who earn their living in football always feel there’s a very important rule: the passion for football. If you are in love with football, you don’t kill a final with a second yellow card like this. You don’t kill the final."
"There were many other yellow cards that the referee didn’t give. There was a situation with Dante in front of me, with his first yellow card, and it was not given."
"A good English referee would have stopped the game and told Ramires: ‘Look, you’ve not hurt anyone but you mustn’t do that again.’ Or tell the Bayern players: ‘Don’t dive. Don’t try and provoke. Play a fair game."
José's playing the long game. The Super Cup is lost, there is nothing he can do about that and he certainly cannot undo Ramires's latest rush of blood to the head. But he can do his utmost to try to influence future decisions and by playing to the football sensibilities of future officials, he is trying to do just that. Perhaps he has just shifted the balance in favor of Chelsea, however slightly, whenever a referee has to make the next split-second decision.
I think my favorite part is the "good English referee" line. Now that Sir Alex Ferguson has left a power void, Mourinho is stepping up and making a bid. Dear Howard Webb: you're his, now.