It wasn’t the fact that Saturday night’s Champions League final was a poor game that left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I hadn’t expected much from Bayern Munich who are an ordinary side and probably over-achieved in reaching Madrid. What did it matter that they had twice as much possession as their opponents? Inter well knew their having the ball didn’t mean they knew what to do with it.
Nor was I upset that Inter Milan shrugged off 45 years of disappointment by finally realising their dream of European domination once more. I think it was an apt conclusion when, en route to the Spanish capital, you’ve knocked out the clubs that became champions of England, Spain and Germany.
But, to me, Jose Mourinho showed a lack of respect, a lack of class, by announcing in the immediate aftermath to German television that he was to become the new manager of Real Madrid even if subsequently he back-tracked a little at the post-match press conference. Manuel Pellegrini was, clearly, a ‘dead man walking’ but he hadn’t actually received the bullet.
And I’m not even sure Real were happy that it came out like that. Last Thursday I interviewed their Director of Football, Emilio Butragueno — remember how the striker was known as ‘The Vulture’? — for the programme I present on World Service. Privately, he admitted there would be an ‘announcement’ yesterday: Pellegrini would be sacked and the search for a new manager would begin; presumably that’d last maybe an hour!
Of course, it was always going to happen anyway. Inter Milan certainly knew and accepted what was coming and were looking around themselves for a new coach last week. Can you believe they’re interested in Rafa Benitez?
However, as I say, a bad taste . . . Mourinho knew the questions were coming, could easily have side-tracked them but clearly preferred to be centre-stage in the publicity following Inter’s triumph.
It comes with the package. By being only the third manager to win European football’s most prestigious prize with two different clubs, the Portuguese emphasized that, perhaps alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, he is currently the best in the business. The total tactical eclipse of Barcelona meant that was proved before the final.
However, if he was made of chocolate he’d probably eat himself . . . mind you, if I looked the way he does, I’d probably do the same! Worse, he’s still only 47: there’s a lot more of Mourinho to come.
I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if he went further than Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld by making Real the third club he’d win the Champions League with.
Further, if, as I believe, he has eyes on succeeding Sir Alex — provided the timing is right — who’d bet against him making that a ‘fourth’?
There is only one cloud on his horizon — the football he preaches is hardly ‘expansive’. Real consider they must ‘honour’ the game as well as collecting trophies and it’s the same at Old Trafford. Will Mourinho compromise? Whatever, I can’t wait to return to the Bernabeu next season.