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Portuguese man of awe
Tony Cascarino: Jose Mourinho’s ability to out-psych Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger is one of the reasons why Chelsea will win the Premiership. Another is Thierry Henry’s lack of application in big games.
Tony Cascarino, 19 Nov 2004
Everybody goes on about the mind games between Fergie and Arsene Wenger, but the hands-down winner this season in that department is Jose Mourinho. While the others squabble like silly little kids, he’s telling the Premiership bigwigs which weekend they’re going to win the league so they can send the trophy round to Stamford Bridge.
Then there’s the “5-4 is a hockey score not a football score” line he came up with after the Arsenal v. Spurs game – brilliant! He’s got the same wonderful confidence/arrogance that Muhammad Ali had when he was Heavyweight Champion of the World. It gets up people’s noses, sure, but it’s not idle boasting. If you look at their respective performances this season in both Europe and the league, Chelsea have been a better side than Arsenal.
The Gunners’ biggest strength, Thierry Henry, can also be their main weakness. I remember being at Loftus Road last season when they played Fulham and thinking, “This guy’s taking the piss!” No mater that they’d won the Premiership at this point, you don’t stand there in front of 20,000 people quite patently not giving a monkey’s about the outcome. He’s got the ability to be the best player in the world, but that pretentious attitude leaves him a bit short of what he could be. For the first half-hour of the Tottenham game he was exactly the same as he was a few weeks back at Old Trafford – anonymous. He wasn’t trying to impose himself on the game, which is highly unprofessional and offensive to the fans who live for those derbies and the bragging rights victory in them brings.
Talking of derbies, I think Celtic are going to have a torrid time of things on Saturday at Ibrox. Juninho is nowhere near an adequate replacement for Henrik Larsson, and John Hartson, Chris Sutton and Neil Lennon are all 33, 34 and nearing the end of their careers. Modern day football is all about athletic ability and, I’m sorry, there’s precious little of that at the moment in the Celtic team.