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In the wake of the revelations from Canal Plus's recording, it is not hard to have sympathy for Jose Mourinho.
That is because it is impossible to have sympathy for him. The Chelsea manager's manipulation of a media who hang on his every word has deserved a comeuppance and finally he has one.
Canal Plus were in the wrong to make public Mourinho's private comments and have taken the video off their website. There is no overriding interest in these "hot mic" remarks that justifies publication, unlike incidents such as Ron Atkinson's racist rant against Marcel Desailly or the serial misogyny of Richard Keys and Andy Gray. The remarks were merely embarrassing; they were private and should have stayed that way, just as your thoughts about your boss, your colleagues, your friends or your partner should not be thrust into the public domain just because you let them out to another individual.
The difficulty is that Mourinho's own ethical violations and cavalier attitude to truth make him more sinner than sinned against. The victims of his false accusations include such disparate entities as the referee Anders Frisk (driven from the game by a false accusation of collusion with Frank Rijkaard), the Premier League fixture compilers (attacked for being pro-Arsenal on the basis of David Dein's then role at an entirely separate organisation, the FA), and the NHS (when Petr Cech suffered his terrible injury at Reading). His contempt for the authorities was best exemplified by his reaction to the UEFA stadium ban that followed his attack on Frisk, using a laundry basket to be smuggled into the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.
All managers play their games with rivals but few take it as far (it's hard to think of anyone in Europe who has committed a physical assault comparable to the thumb in the eye of the then Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova). Depressingly, far from treating him as the pariah he deserves to be, the media are too often his witless accomplices, trumpeting his recent digs at Arsene Wenger and seemingly blind to the idea that anyone could have scruples about appointing the Portuguese.
Mourinho is so used to getting his way unchallenged that he reacted with bluster and astonishment when his mischaracterisation of his record against Pepe Guardiola was corrected at the press conference before this season's Super Cup against Bayern Munich. Faced with the truth, he just lied.
When the Portuguese put the boot into Wenger recently, he said of the Frenchman's lack of a trophy since 2005: "He's a specialist in failure. If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don't come back."
The Arsenal manager can certainly be criticised - as he has been hereabouts - but for the most part has conducted himself with great dignity throughout his career.
Anyone employing Mourinho does so knowing there is a toxicity surrounding him that can only be dispelled by the sweet smell of success. Machiavelli Mourinho believes that the end justifies all manner of means- if those ends are not acheived, no one will put up with the stink for anything close to eight years.