The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
Avram Grant’s eccentric press conference after Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Everton this week prompted many observers to compare Grant’s curt, uncommunicative responses to the beloved monologues of his predecessor, José Mourinho. Wondering how Mourinho would have handled the questions the media put to Grant? Wonder no more.
Q: A deserved win José?
Mourinho: Yes. No. No, it was not a deserved win. It was deserved because we outplayed the opponents and beat them in the score. But, on the way to the stadium today, I became stuck in traffic. I am a wonderful driver. [Laughter from the press.] But sometimes, English streets, you know…you should come to drive on our streets in Portugal. [Laughter.] Is very sane. And so I am sitting in traffic, thinking about the match, and the man on the radio, he plays a Michael Jackson song. Not good, not good Michael Jackson—not “State of Shock.” It was “Billie Jean,” and I do not like this song. [Extended laughter.] Why do you brag that the woman is not your lover? And so I thought, this man, this radio man, who plays this song, he does not deserve to see Chelsea win tonight.
Q: What particularly pleased you about the performance?
Mourinho: I was pleased with our movement, and our passing, and with the dynamism of Alex.
Q: What in particular pleased you?
Mourinho: He did not play, Alex. But on the bench, he was very dynamic. You should have seen him. He was very important for us tonight.
Q: Is it a relief to win here?
Mourinho: Yes. It is always a relief to win. I am a very good coach, but every time, before the match, it is the same. I am sick to the stomach. On the way here, while I was waiting in traffic, I had to open the door of my car to see if I would throw up on the street. And it is good that I did not, because I will tell you, I drive a very, very cheap car [laughter] and I would not want anything to make it look worse.
Q: You seem lost for words by the performance. Are you more satisfied with the performance or the victory?
Mourinho: Really? I think you should check your hearing, because I am not being lost for words. Also, it is a bad question, I will not answer it. [Laughter.] I will do your job for you, I will give you a better question. “What can you say about the referee’s shoes?” There, I will answer that question. [Laughter.] I can say that his shoes were not good enough, because he runs up and down the pitch, but somehow he cannot run into position to see the penalty on Kalou. I do not know who provides the shoes for the FA, but they are doing a very bad job. Everyone else in the stadium, even though we do not have the shoes provided by the FA, we can see it. On the bench, Alex saw it very clearly. He was very dynamic in his protests.
Q: You seem distracted. Do you have a problem?
Mourinho: I am sorry, I was looking into space for a minute.
Q: Is there an issue?
Mourinho: I am remembering a time when I was sixteen and in love. I was very, very naive, and I said, let us fly away in an aeroplane. But we had no aeroplane. I am sad to remember this.
Q: Do you have a message for the Chelsea fans?
Mourinho: If you are running a radio station, do not play “Billie Jean.” It is a very, very bad song. [Laughter.] What is he saying? “I deny that I have fathered this child.” Why do you deny this? Take Billie Jean into the aeroplane, the world is your tablecloth. Spread out your basket. Drink wine. Have the picnic of love.
Q: They must believe you are still in the title race, do you have a message for them?
Mourinho: Of course we still are in the title race! Sir Alex, he is a wily manager, he is a great manager, but he does not tell the truth if he says we are not in the title race. On Man United there is enormous pressure, because they do not know what they are facing—they have not lived. They have not read books. They have not looked into the eyes of a girl they loved and said, “Why will you give this child up for adoption, I have fathered him, I have done this?” They will make mistakes. It will be very difficult for Man United to win the title now. It is nothing against Sir Alex—he is a brilliant manager. He is a thief; he is a liar. There is no problem with Sir Alex and me.
Q: Does this result mean you are back in it now?
Mourinho: We always were in it.
Q: How many steps have you climbed to undertake this press conference?
Mourinho: That is a very good question. I have not counted the steps. Normally, I count the steps on the way to the press conference. But tonight I was distracted by a boy in the crowd who looked… I thought he looked like… Between twenty-four and thirty-two steps, I cannot say with precision.
Q: You seem less voluble than usual. Is it because of Sky TV moving the game to a Thursday?
Mourinho: No, I do not mind if they move the games. Why should I mind this? I am the same coach on Thursday that I am on Saturday. I am very, very good at my job and I can do it on any day of the week. [Laughter.] You laugh, but this is true. I mind for my players, because they have not gotten the rest. They are very tired, like hamsters. But for myself, if the same radio man is in the station on Thursday as he is on Saturday, it makes no difference. The memories I have are the same memories. The mind I have is the same mind. Maybe on Saturday, the referee’s shoes would work better; I don’t know. [Extended laughter.]
Q: Are you upset? Do you feel you have been misrepresented?
Mourinho: Why would I be misrepresented? All I say is perfectly clear. Once, I was in love. Now, the world is a radish. Maybe your typewriters would work better on a Saturday? I am very, very good at giving press conferences.
Q: Did Michael Essien faint?
Mourinho (shrugs): Perhaps he saw something that reminded him of a lost time.
Q: Michael Ballack?
Mourinho: He did not have the dynamism of Alex.
Q: What’s his problem?
Mourinho: In Portugal, no problem. In England, you cannot always have a dynamism like Alex. Alex was greatly dynamic on the bench tonight. I wish he was here behind the table now, so you could see his fierce expressions.
Q: He’s not here José.
Mourinho: In England, no. In Portugal, maybe. The soul, it is a foundry, where iron is cast. If you are lucky, you are cast into a lamp, and the light shines on you. If you are unlucky, you are cast into something ugly and pointless, like the engine of my car. Put this in your papers. Believe in this. I am very wise. Remember.
by Brian Phillips · April 19, 2008