In the spirit of a work of fiction, this book begins with a bang. The first paragraph describes vividly how Supercoach Jose Mourinho broke down uncontrollably, on learning he would not become the next Manchester United Manager
The Author Jose Torres is a well-respected Spanish journalist, and not to be confused with a former Chelsea forward Fernando Torres, who might also have been included in such a biographic work. If the book is essentially more fact than fiction, it undermines Mourinho’s repeated claims of his unwavering love of Chelsea Football Club.
This and other claims in the book are open to the criticism that they would hardly meet the Wikipedia criteria for credibility through two citations of credible published sources. The author does not include a list of references, although he does indicate in the text where these references may be sought.
‘Prepare to lose’
The English translation of the original Spanish title of the book is Prepare to Lose. The chapter with the same title makes another sensational claim, that Mourinho conceived a bizarre plan when coach for Real Madrid. This requested his team to play for a deliberate loss against Barcelona as part of a longer term plan to draw attention to injustices visited on Real Madrid. Mourinho allegedly explained to his players would enable him to justify his repeated claims of widespread conspiracy against Real by EUFA, including scheduling arrangements and referees influenced by FIFA to make decisions biased against Real.
For readers unfamiliar with world football, when Jose was coach at Real Madrid, Barca was replacing then as the top team in Spain, and perhaps in Europe. Pep Guadiola was being talked of as the best coach, and Messi as the greatest player in Europe, perhaps the world. This world-view was increasingly one of the stories disputed by Jose in his post-match press conferences.
If there were a ‘plot’ against him by the footballing authorities, Mourinho’s plan to deal with it is presented as a baffling and irrational fantasy. The team would prepare for a match with Barcelona to lose (hence the title of the Spanish version of book) so that Mourinho could then in a press conference, using his exceptional rhetorical skills, unveil the dastardly plotting against the club.
A pattern of behaviour?
The author of the book might be making up a malicious calumny against Jose. Or he might be reporting a leaked version of what actually took place.
In evaluating these possibilities, I could not forget a memorable interview of Mourinho made recently after the book had been published and during Chelsea’s dreadful start to the 2015-16 season. The interviewer asked only one question. Jose went off on an extended rant creepily like several described in The Special One.
Did Jose order his players to prepare for a game which he wanted to lose? Are the claims invented? In the review mentioned above, the reviewer remained ambivalent, urging readers to decide for themselves. At very least, his press conferences recently are consistent to those described in the book in their repeated reference to enemies of Chelsea and himself: and in particular to referees and football officials
A good read
Reliable or not, this is a good read. There is plenty of evidence that the author knows his football, and writes convincingly about on-field action. His accounts of Mourinho’s behaviours are mostly self-consistent and plausible. it is also a description of a ‘pure’ Charismatic type so brilliantly described many years ago by Weber and more recently by David Potts.
Is he Steve Jobs in disguise?
And there I would have left it, a good ol’ damning with faint praise review of the book. Except for a viewing of the biopic Steve Jobs on the day after I had finished reading The Special One. For two hours I watched Fassbender’s chilling portrayal of the great designer, visionary, and entrepreneur.
As portrayed in the movie, Jobs comes across as brilliant, self-obsessed and ruthless. it was a brilliant description of the pure charismatic type. So much so, that we left the less than Apple perfect modernity of the Cinema complex discussing the similarities between the film of Steve Jobs, and the book about Jose Mourinho.
The question on my lips might have been transmuted into a chant from the football terraces:
Are you Steven Jobs,
Are you Steven Jobs,
Are you Steve Jobs in Disguise?
Pity the book did not fit perfectly into my pocket. Steve would have not let that happen.