Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho is a confounding man. As loquacious as they come, he'll speak with confidence and intelligence about his team and his in-game strategies one second before charging off on rants defending his legacy, criticizing the current English Premier League and, yes, even slamming Steve Nash the next. It's this mix of unparalleled cockiness and confidence in his legendary coaching abilities and his insecurity about his legacy that make him one of the most fascinating men in sports.
In a wonderful interview in the Times of London on Sunday, every angle of his complex and sometimes contradictory mind is on display.
He's the best coach in the world, and he knows that. And he'll let you know it too. He's won everywhere he's been, and his accomplishments are so ridiculous you almost wonder if someone made a typo when you read them. For instance, his teams haven't lost a home league game in seven years.
However, he's used his success at every team to launch himself on to a new challenge. He'll build an unprecedented legacy this way, winning everywhere with the most prominent teams in the world. Still, as someone who is only loyal to himself (like a Roger Clemens, for instance), he'll never be loved by any fan base. This, combined with his pathological competitiveness, make him fiercely defensive about his legacy and his teams' performances.
For instance, when asked about Chelsea's EPL title this year:
"First of all, I'm happy
Chelsea did it. I want it very clear I'm happy they won it. They had the
record of goals. But please don't compare this Man United with my Man
United. Don't compare this Arsenal with my Arsenal. My Arsenal was a
that won the league without one defeat in 2003-4. Don't compare this
Liverpool with my Liverpool. And don't compare this Premiership with my
Premiership. Don't compare because you cannot compare."
And, when talking about Inter's "defensive" posture against Barcelona:
"When I read some
comments from some, I don't want to say stupid people . . . For example,
read a comment from one of the best basketball players in the NBA, Steve
Nash. He was saying that Inter could play that game with 10 goalkeepers.
Fortunately, he plays basketball. He understands nothing about football."
There's never a dull moment with Jose Mourinho. And on Saturday, this overwhelmingly accomplished coach has a good chance of winning his second Champions League trophy -- before he moves on to face new challenges and continue building (and defending) his legacy.