Earlier this week Jose Mourinho gave an interview where he lamented the lack of equality in the press coverage that is dished out to the top six.
After losing two consecutive games in August, Manchester United were deemed to be in crisis and newspapers, websites and bloggers alike all sharpened their studs and duly went in with both feet. But now that Spurs had also endured back-to-back defeats where was their castigation? Where was their walk of atonement?
This was the upshot of his complaint and it is all too easy to view it as typical deflection from the Portuguese scowler. More so it can be judged to be an indulgence in his favourite topic of media persecution and this after Mourinho himself first kick-started the ‘United in crisis’ narrative into life by turning every pre-season presser into a grief counselling session.
Yet if you ignore the motivations and transfer the large chip from his shoulder to the floor it is undeniable that the inveterate agitator actually has a valid point on this occasion. It’s just that he misses the rather obvious root cause for it a thousand times over.
For it is not that Spurs receive favourable press coverage compared to United. It is that Mauricio Pochettino gets favourable coverage to Mourinho.
The reasons for this are so outstandingly obvious as to not need detailing here. We all know how each manager’s personality differs and while one is more than happy to play with fire, fuelling headlines with regular meltdowns and snide opinion, the other is consistently diplomatic. A small but pertinent example of their yin and yang is how they individually handled the immense frustration of being deprived of new players this summer. Mourinho went on the attack.
He shouted from the rooftops and bad-mouthed his board, his misfortune, and even, bizarrely, his youth players. He created a soap opera; writing the script, playing the lead role, and penning the theme tune all by himself. The Spurs gaffer meanwhile towed the company line and declared his squad to be of the utmost quality.
In general the self-assured Pochettino gives the media just enough to report so they’re happy. Mourinho meanwhile ensures he is always centre stage and is a bear to be baited.
Naturally then when things go south one coach fends off a maelstrom of flak while the other is largely left alone and there are other reasons too for this disparity. Mourinho’s stature and CV is definitely a factor because his higher pedestal leads to a more dramatic fall. The hundreds of millions more that he has spent over his rival is also a consideration.
This, however, is not a discussion as to why one manager gets worse treatment than another. The fact that this is so is a given. And the reasons are transparent. What really intrigues is why they are the sole focus of our attention to begin with.
Because this summer United erred. United as in the club; the board; the institution. After being handed a shortlist of transfer targets by Mourinho – namely defenders to address a long-standing problem area that has held the team back for seasons – the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and his suited cronies failed to deliver and boy has it shown on the pitch.
Yet have they been called out for their failure? If anything the opposite has occurred with the media taking the club’s side and mocking Mourinho for his subsequent strops while highlighting the money he has thus far spent.
Over at Spurs meanwhile where do you start with their shortcomings in recent months? A nonfulfillment to strengthen a terrific but stalled squad was negligent in the extreme while the ongoing stadium fiasco is turning the fine name of Tottenham Hotspur into a national punchline.
Barring a few tutted what-is-he-likes aimed at Daniel Levy you have to wonder where their thoroughly warranted criticism is. Could it be that because Pochettino is personally undeserving of flak there is no flak at all?
That is the suspicion because we increasingly reside in a football environ where only managers – and rarely the players – get dog’s abuse if results plummet; where a club’s mistakes are redirected to the dug-out; and all we care about when a fan-base or referee disgrace themselves is how the manager reacts to it.
Wholly this is a consequence of the cult of the modern-day manager and because many of them have cultivated that high esteem – presumably through arrogance – perhaps they are not deserving of much sympathy. But of ourselves we must ask: how did it come to this? Why do we need a face, and voice and personality to focus all of our attention on, when previously a name, or position, or club would suffice?
United and Spurs should be getting an equal amount of denunciation for their campaigns so far. Sadly, with the contrasting individuals in charge, that was, and is never going to happen.
[brid autoplay=”true” video=”298768″ player=”12034″ title=”Watch The FFC Accy Show We’re picking winners all over the place!”]