David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
OK, so maybe I've been a wee bit negative about Jose Mourinho over the years. Honestly, though, who hasn't declared a fatwa on someone after a few beers or wished them a hot lead enema? But I never wanted to see the guy go. So rather than dance on his grave — mostly because my knee still hasn't healed — I want to tell you why I loathed him so passionately.
It's not because he introduced himself to the Premiership with the words "I am the Special One." Nor is it because he eschews the traditional tracksuit ensemble most managers in favor of a wardrobe worthy of Richard Gere in American Gigolo.
No, the reason I hated Mourinho — and I'm only going to say it once and never speak of it again — is he's so fucking good. After all, you couldn't detest someone who managed a bottom feeder. They'd be, literally, beneath contempt. But Mourinho? He won the European Championship (at Porto), the Premiership two years in a row, the FA Cup, the Carling Cup and for all I know he could probably join NASCAR tomorrow and win the Nextel Cup.
So how stupid is it that the Russian billionaire Roman Ambramovich sacked Mourinho? This is dumber than when he brought in Shevchenko and Ballack to the tune of $60 million, only to have them turn into the Chan Ho Park and Ryan Leaf of the Premiership. This is dumber than when he hired an Israeli pal Avram Grant to oversee "technical operations" or, as I now think of it, "Belichick in on him" to make sure he picks the team he wants. The Mourinho ouster is even dumber than the time Abramovich slept with a 23-year-old Russian model — we've all been there, save Leitch — and it cost him $155 million in his divorce. Screwing Mourinho will only cost him the Premiership for years to come.
So what exactly did Mourinho do that warranted sending him to the Gulag? It's hard to say. For three years we endured the relentless drumbeat of his paranoid rantings; the refs were out to get Chelsea ("filho da puta" — son of a whore — was his Portuguese term of endearment for them), the other managers were jealous because he had won everywhere he went, the English police were trying to kidnap his dog. At the same time, he transformed Chelsea from an underachieving collection of future stars (Lampard and Terry) into a relentless, ruthless juggernaut that dominated English football.
Chelsea's sheen of invincibility, of course, began to disappear last year in a farrago of injuries and internecine feuds (yes, I'm still using my daughter's SAT vocab flash cards) and evaporated for good in the last couple of weeks with a loss to Aston Villa and draws against Blackburn and Rosenborg (I got excited too, Dad, but they spell it with an "o," not an "e"). Far from sounding like a distant cousin of mine, Rosenborg looks more like the Aryan Nation and play about as well, which in Norway makes you champions. When Chelsea could manage nothing more than a 1-1 tie with these husks of smoked salmon, Ambramovich had seen enough for his billion dollar investment . Mourinho had committed the one sin that is unforgivable to the eleventh richest man in the world - he bored him. He had tolerated watching Chelsea lose out to United last year for the league title, but he simply couldn't endure another season of grind-it-out efficiency on the pitch. Win or entertain, comrade, and the Special One did neither lately.
So it was time for him to go (probably back to Portugal to coach the national team to upcoming Euro glory). Chelsea, of course, will miss him and, in the spirit of these days of atonement, so will I.