It’s Sky Sports weekly football show Goals On Sunday. Former Blackburn and Southampton striker James Beattie is due to be the morning guest. But at the last minute he is bumped off. On the sofa is Jose Mourinho.
It’s not the Mourinho way to open himself up for a cosy chat, whilst blandly discussing the relevant issues from the weekends action. And sure enough he has an agenda. Virtually the first half of the programme is given to Mourinho, so that he can vent about Martin Atkinson’s refereeing mistakes from the previous days draw with Burnley. Chris Kamara and co-host Ben Shepherd can’t lay a glove on him.
It’s classic Mourinho. They are very few managers in the English game who can control the media agenda like Jose. He smells and acts on these moments like a classic strategist. He instinctively recognises the time to turn adversity to his advantage.
He doesn’t believe his players are being treated with respect. And for him, it’s the perfect opportunity to send out messages. Firstly to referees…which is that, if you are going to officiate in our games, then I will be watching you. If I do not think you are being fair to my team, then I will let the footballing world know about it.
And secondly and perhaps more importantly, the dressing room. For in giving up his Sunday morning, Mourinho is telling his players that he has got their backs. That I am fighting for you as hard as I expect you to fight for me, and for each other. Referees are not showing us respect. Therefore, he uses the moment to strengthen the sense of conspiracy against his team, and thus re-inforce the feeling of injustice withing the group.
Mourinho’s conviction in these matters is absolute. He will brook no argument. This is how it is. And so his strength becomes the teams strength. Other Premier League managers may feel aggrieved about the way their players are officiated. But none of them carry a sense of injustice like Mourinho.
For him, a perceived sense of injustice is like finding gold. He savours it for all that is worth, knowing that he is building a powerful cause in his dressing room. And when Premier League titles are to be won, injustice is high octane motivational fuel to drive a team to success.