How should we describe present day Jose Mourinho?
Plenty have tried. Far from the Special One, the handsome rogue with the glint in his eye during his first Chelsea spell, he has tried on the Happy One and Humble One for size, but neither quite fit. With the mask of contentment slipping early in his Spurs reign, could he soon be the Forgotten One?
Or we could forgo the “adjective” One tabloid stylings and call Mourinho what he is: the resolutely negative friend among Premier League managers.
We all have one – the buddy who sees only the cloud and never the silver lining, the one who can find fault with anything fun. This is later day Mourinho in his behaviour towards the clubs he manages.
In the beginning, he is all sweetness and light, the charismatic new arrival who has a great sense of humour and says all the right things. His second Chelsea spell brought the 'Happy One' declaration, he said that Manchester United was a big club 'of a different dimension' to others he had worked at, and insisted that at Tottenham he would be 'humble' and added 'it’s not about me, it’s about the club.'
But soon, things turn sour. You might not even notice at first. It’s just the odd offhand comment here and there. Suddenly none of the things that used to be fun are anymore. There are problems with everything.
At Chelsea there was the reference to his players as 'young eggs' who would only be ready for the top level 'one day', but not yet. At Manchester United there were bitter complaints about 'spoiled' young players and a perceived lack of signings, particularly at centre back, even after the club had sanctioned £30m each on two defenders.
At Spurs he’s been unhappy with injuries and a lack of reinforcements, telling anyone who would listen that Champions League qualification would be 'a miracle'. Lest anyone forget, this team qualified for it in each of the last four seasons under his predecessor and reached the final last time out. It's not like he is managing Norwich.
But this is what Mourinho does. Like your negative friend, he convinces you that everything is a problem. He tells you your players are useless, the young prospects will never make it, and none of the new signings are expensive enough.
He tells you that he doesn’t want to play dour, slow, reactive football but that he has no choice — it’s your club’s fault that his football is bad.
And if you don’t like it, well, it could be worse, thank your lucky stars you have a serial winner like Jose by your side. After all, what other manager would even look at your club with its expensive squad and recent history of success?
He convinces you to lower expectations. Manchester United, the Premier League colossus, one of the most expensively assembled sides in world football? Second place is as good as it will ever get, and the Community Shield counts as a real trophy now. Tottenham Hotspur, Champions League finalists? Even qualifying next time will be a miracle.
You really wish you could cut your negative friend out of your life but you just can’t. You remember the good times. He used to be different. He used to be fun. If you just hang in there, maybe the fun friend you remember will come back.
You might think you deserve better. But Mourinho the negative friend is here to keep you down, and wants you to be thankful for it. The sooner Premier League clubs wise up to his act, start blocking his calls and unfriend him, the better.