Jose Mourinho is widely regarded as the best manager in the world, and is the self-proclaimed 'special one'.
His reputation preceeds him, both as a keen tactician and for his relationship with the media.
Gabriele Marcotti of the Times writes both as a prosecutor and defense in the debate about whether Mourinho is the special one...or not...
You can expect to hear a lot about Jose Mourinho over the next few weeks. Playing in the Champions' League final and possibly moving to the world's biggest football club will do that. Plus, of course, there is nobody - and I mean nobody - in the game who has such a talent for putting his point across and turning the media into some kind of megaphone (for better or worse, sometimes it backfires).
There are many who think Mourinho is the greatest manager in the world, perhaps the greatest in history. There are some who think he's been largely the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time and that he simply has sold himself better than most. Is the truth at either extreme? Or is it somewhere in between? You be the judge.
You don't like the way he plays? First off, it's not defensive, it's balanced. And, in fact, this year, it's balanced offensively. How many sides in Europe play three strikers (Eto'o, Milito and Pandev) plus a guy like Wesley Sneijder? Not many. Is it dull? Well, he's paid to win, not to entertain. And winning is certainly entertaining if you're a fan of whatever club he's managing. Were you not entertained by the masterclass at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea? How about when he demolished Barcelona? He does what needs to be done and, when he needs to do so, he raises his game. That's the mark of a great manager.
Unlike you, I would argue that his time at Inter actually showed intelligence and courage. It took intelligence not to throw the baby out with the bathwater but instead take what worked from his predecessor's side - namely, Ibrahimovic - and make it work for him. (By the way, how well is Ibra doing without Mourinho? Exactly my point). And it took courage to try something new and then admit your mistakes and change. Rather than critciizing him for his ill-fated winger experiment with Mancini and Quaresma, you ought to be lauding him for having the guts to try something different, recognizing it didn't work and then coming up with something new that did work. The last time an Inter manager reached the final of the Champions League was in 1972. That was before any of these Inter players were even born, even Javier Zanetti, who is seemingly a hundred years old. Inter used to be the biggest basket case in world football. Now they're taken seriously. That's what he has brought to this club. Belief.
Maybe he's not a tactical revolutionary, but the simple fact of the matter is that it's not just about giving instructions, it's about getting your players to execute. And when Mourinho speaks, people listen. Don't take my word. Talk to the guys he's managed. Except for Shevchenko and, maybe, Adrian Mutu, they all love him. Why? Because he's a leader of men, because he connects with people in ways others don't. Even the volatile teenage mind of Mario Balotelli, albeit after much struggling, eventually fell and gave in to Mourinho. Balotelli was a model citizen in Inter's last two matches, despite his earlier tantrums. Why? Because Mourinho eventually got through to him.
And it's not just the players, it's the fans. What, you don't think that Chelsea supporters, Double or no Double, wouldn't giftwrap Ancelotti and courier him back to Italy if it meant the return of Mourinho? It's the same story at Inter. The fans adore him. The man has had seven full seasons as a manager. In that time, he has won 16 trophies and, by next Saturday night, it could be 17. At 47, he could become the youngest manager ever to win his second Champions League. And, I might add, he has not lost a home league game since 2002.