believes that a sour Jose Mourinho can have no complaints after what was a shameful third instalment of the El Clasico foursome
Last Updated: 28/04/11 1:09pm
During his three years with Chelsea, comparisons were regularly drawn between Jose Mourinho and late, great English manager Brian Clough. The Special One was the next Old Big 'Ead. The similarities were there - winners, self-confidence and masters of promotional pantomime.
Success was all-important to Clough, but he also believed that winning at all costs was not essential. The former Derby and Nottingham Forest boss used to chastise Leeds United, who he of course managed for an ill-fated 44 days, for a perceived lack of morals. The past few days have demonstrated that there sits the difference with now-Real Madrid manager Mourinho.
Clough once said: "The bloke who pinches £2million will sit back in his bungalow in the Bahamas or wherever the hell he goes and say, 'I've been an out and out thief and I've had the most success'. It just depends which standards you are looking for."
The obvious response is to suggest that the regular attacks on Leeds were a forerunner of the mind games which are so prominent in modern football and were used by Mourinho in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona in an attempt to unsettle opposite number Pep Guardiola.
But what could be certain is that Clough would never have resorted to the on-field spoiling tactics of Mourinho at the Bernabeu. It was supposed to be a festival of football on Wednesday night, yet it developed into a disgrace and Real's manager was the agitator in chief.
The Portuguese should have no complaints, but has been attempting to portray himself as the victim. Having spent his pre-match press conference goading Guardiola, his tactics and the resulting performance of his team in the Spanish capital was nothing more than a sham.
When stoking the fires to such an extent before kick-off, it was always going to be a gamble as to which side would benefit from the intensified atmosphere and scrutiny. Angel di Maria calling for bookings, the half-time scuffle which saw Barcelona's substitute goalkeeper, Jose Pinto, sent off, the windmilling arms of Emmanuel Adebayor and Marcelo, the dismissals of Pepe and, as a result, Mourinho - it was embarrassing to watch.
Messi: Two brilliant goals
Barcelona were not free from blame, but at least in Lionel Messi's brilliant two goals and the more understated contribution of Xavi, arguably the greatest team in history eventually let their football do the talking.
However, even as Mourinho was ordered away from the dugout for his sarcastic response to Pepe's red card and was comically sat just yards away having been passed a patio chair, he could not resist smirking and milking the spotlight. It goes back to the Clough comparison - winning is all that matters to Mourinho and if things do not go his way then distraction tactics are employed. These sagas seem to follow him around, particularly against Barcelona, who he worked for as an interpreter in the 1990s.
Despite holding Barcelona to a draw in La Liga and then snatching an extra-time win in the final of the Copa del Rey, the third instalment of this El Clasico foursome was evidence that he accepts Real cannot overcome their bitter domestic rivals on ability alone. There is no better illustration of the perceived need to stifle Barcelona than the sight of Karim Benzema and Kaka twiddling their thumbs on the bench.
Defeat is a dent to personal pride to The Special One and he has been clutching at straws when suggesting there are conspiracy theories to ensure Guardiola and company are at Wembley on 28th May. It is understandable that there is annoyance at being reduced to 10 men four times against Barcelona this season, but it is also a case study of a bad loser. Barcelona are quite right to be consulting their legal team.
It should not really have come as a surprise. Mourinho's tactics have always been that of frustrating and suffocating the opposition when there is the slightest sense of inferiority or weakness. If, as is often suggested, Mourinho is the man who will eventually succeed Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United fans could be forgiven for feeling a little unenthusiastic at the prospect, having grown accustomed to the current diet of attacking and brave football at Old Trafford.
Mourinho has to accept that defeats happen in football. His approach to the second leg will demonstrate if there is any form of remorse or whether he is holiday home-hunting in the Bahamas.