Jose makes a real dogs' dinner of Cup final week

Last updated at 00:45 19 May 2007


As a potentially rabid canine is one of the few creatures capable of stopping Cristiano Ronaldo, it may be worth Jose Mourinho registering his fugitive Yorkshire terrier in time for Saturday's FA Cup Final.

As the comedian joked at Thursday night's Football Writers' dinner - where Ronaldo completed his clean sweep of personal awards - missing paperwork would not disqualify Mourinho's mutt from joining West Ham, so why not go the whole nine yards and risk a pitch invasion by the dog-catching unit as Chelsea labour to end a chaotic campaign with more than just the Carling Cup?

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Mourinho waxwork

The temptation to construct imagined dialogues between Mourinho and the police this week has been too good to resist.

While the dog Leya, aka the Belgravia One, was going missing in a street that was once home to Lord Lucan (I kid you not), the increasingly eccentric Chelsea manager was doubtless telling his inquisitors: "You attack Leya because it is Chelsea dog. You don't do same to Manchester United dog. In this moment, we fight everything, even Rabies Order Act of 1974.

"We have 85-page dossier which show many dogs in Liverpool with wrong documents. But I think it's easier to attack me and my family, who mean more to me than football, in case you missed it when I said it before, one thousand times."

A favoured pressure reducing tactic of Mourinho's is to deflect attention from his players by making himself the story. Or that's the charitable interpretation, anyway. It may just be that he has a persecution complex and a limelight addiction.

Either way, nobody would have bet on his next trick being a dash from the Chelsea Player-of-the-Year dinner to inflame a stand-off between his wife and crying children on the one side and police officers who had called round to check a pooch's paperwork on the other.

In a sensational development on Friday - when is there ever anything else where Mourinho is involved? - Sir Alex Ferguson's adversary raised the spectre of a police raid on the Chelsea dugout midway through "Abide With Me".

Speaking in an interview on Portuguese TV, Mourinho is reported to have said: "Maybe I'll be arrested before the Cup Final. The dog is on holiday and will stay on holiday while the people are dishonest, and while they won't forget that I am a foreigner, a public person and while they don't treat me as a normal person.

"When a dog with three months of age is the front page of a newspaper in this country you cannot believe the things you read."

Right there is the perfect self-synopsis of Mourinho's endlessly fascinating character. Break it down and you see that he's saying: 1, They're all out to get me - I'm uniquely persecuted.

2, I will fight them on the beaches, or in the mews. 3, It's because I'm from Portugal. 4, My privacy is being invaded. Hell, my dog's privacy is being invaded.

As his DNA is now on the national database, following his arrest and caution for obstructing the police by making a dog vanish, it's presumably possible that scientists could clone a whole tribe of Jose Mourinhos and send them into management.

But really, one is plenty for us to be entertained and infuriated by. The two reactions have achieved equal weight this week, because even as people are chortling on trains and sniggering in pubs over the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (a free gift for headline writers everywhere), he has managed to snatch back that warmth by calling on Ronaldo not to dive and hinting, darkly, that the police are after him because he's "a foreigner".

This will go down a storm in police canteens, where officers are often heard to say: "Let's leave the murderers and rapists today and nick a few Portuguese millionaires with dogs."

The constabulary now join the Reading ambulance service in Mourinho's public sector doghouse. And while there is congruity in John Terrier's boss choosing such a snappy little animal, there is also a lot to like about him being done for obstruction: a motif for his whole managerial career.

This season he has obstructed Roman Abramovich and survived, obstructed another set of visitors to Stamford Bridge to extend his home unbeaten record, obstructed referees with relentless psychological pressure, and now obstructed a force he is highly unlikely to beat: the law of the land.

Our world could fairly be divided into those who cross the road to avoid a fight and those who dodge the traffic to get to the other side so they can join in.

Leya's owner either starts the conflict himself or gallops off towards it. Hence the requirement this week for him to submit his fingerprints to Britain's national records.

His victims have waited a long time to see an evening paper headline like, "Mourinho arrested in rabies raid". As a minimum this year, he has won the Carling Cup and put Portuguese slapstick on the map.

WELCOME TO FOOTBALL'S NEW REALITY, ADRIAN

Adrian Chiles sent the old Wembley hare running with his assertion that neutrals "should be ashamed of themselves" for going to Saturday's FA Cup Final at the expense of Chelsea and Manchester United fans, who are sharing 50,000 of the 90,000 tickets.

There has also been concerted pressure this week from supporters' groups angry that 21,000 of the 25,000 seats for each club are priced from £60-£95. Meanwhile 6,000 Club Wembley or debenture members luxuriate like Roman emperors.

England games, FA Cups, the Rolling Stones - it's all the same to the towels-on-sunloungers brigade on whom the Football Association depend so heavily to foot the bill for the ground's egregious cost.

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Adrian Chiles

Football's New Reality is starting to bite its audience. And here we see the true bill for the Klondike stampede. Full marks to that excellent financial watchdog David Conn this week for revealing that the Glazers have lumbered Manchester United with £663million of borrowings and annual interest fees of £62m.

You have to read that figure twice to appreciate its proper magnitude. No wonder Old Trafford ticket prices have shot up 14 per cent.

All this will feel immaterial when a line of blue gladiators stride out beside 11 in red and the cauldron rocks with the energy and fervour we pour into our national game.

As a "neutral" with a job to do I feel privileged but not quite "ashamed" because the FA Cup belongs to all of us, not just the competing teams.

Anyway: can you imagine the soundtrack of abuse if 90,000 Chelsea and United fans were crammed into a single auditorium? You would need earmuffs. At least the suits and the "football family" will dilute the animosity.

MICHAEL ESSIEN will probably be trapped at centre-half again on Saturday. John Terry says his indefatigable Chelsea colleague took to the job after "five minutes" on the training ground.

Marvellous. What a guy. But what a waste. For my money Essien's incarceration in a defensive role in the Champions League semi-final at Anfield was a major reason why Liverpool crept through. Managers worship versatility. But for players it's a curse.

A SILVER LINING FOR BECKHAM

David Beckham must be used to trophy-envy by now, so if his old pal Ryan Giggs becomes the most decorated player in domestic competitions with a fifth FA Cup medal to add to his nine League titles, then the exiled Golden One will add the full Wembley unveiling to his lengthening list of missed opportunities.

England v Brazil on June 1 is another. But hang on. With four games left, Real Madrid lead La Liga for the first time this year and it seems increasingly likely that Beckham will be riding round LA with a Spanish championship gong.

Hope so. Four months ago Madrid used him as a dartboard for cheap corporate indignation, but he scrapped his way back into the team. Stand aside Barcelona and let symmetry prevail.

CHANGE OF PACE IN THE CARIBBEAN

Anti-freeze injections used to be obligatory in the England dressing room when batsmen marched out with their tooth-picks to fend off West Indies pacemen.

The blood ran to ice, the paramedics tensed. In the stands there was the sense of yeomen striding to their doom.

Nowadays, you see the odd belligerent spell from a Jerome Taylor but never the institutionalised hostility of Holding, Roberts, Garner, Marshall, Ambrose or Walsh.

The absence of menace in the current Caribbean pace attack prompts one to imagine Brazilian football without dribblers or All Black rugby devoid of slashing pace.

West Indies bowlers were never meant to wheedle batsmen out. They are supposed to machine-gun them back to the pavilion. Pray it's only cyclical and not a permanent lowering of masculinity's flame.

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