I didn’t watch Spurs beat Man United on Monday night but as a sports nerd I was following events on my phone. The score-line of 3-0 to Spurs (playing away from home) was one to get the eyebrows twitching. The sports journalists at the game will have eagerly awaited the post-match press conference sensing blood.
The Man United manager, Jose Mourinho is known for drama and he didn’t disappoint. The brief press conference descended into him barking respect repeatedly at the journalists as he walked out. Nobody got the sense that this was a belated tribute to the recently departed Aretha Franklin.
It’s not unusual for football managers to lose the plot given the massive pressure and intense scrutiny they face. Memories of Kevin Keegan and Rafa Benitez ranting incoherently whilst thinking they’re occupying the moral ground high ground come to mind.
In Mourinho’s case the subject of his ire was that the journos only wanted to talk about the game they had just watched, a big game, in which his team (unfortunately in his view) had lost heavily to a rival. Jose wanted them to remember his previous triumphs and show a bit more respect for his achievements. Rather than talking about the three goals his side had conceded, what about talking about the three Premiership titles he’d won. Nice try but never in with a chance. At that moment, fairly or unfairly those three titles were utterly irrelevant to the night’s action and its shock result.
Somehow it felt that Mourinho wanted the press to forget about the present version of himself – the manager of a losing team and instead pay homage to the legendary version of himself with the glittering résumé.
It’s a feature of celebrity today that a huge amount of effort goes into famous people and the people that serve them creating the right image. People want to present the best version of themselves – what they look like, what they’re quoted as saying and seen to be doing. Celebrity magazines are full of staged photo shoots, casting people in the best light possible. Ultimately these versions of people are two dimensional, they can’t capture all people are or create a wholly new version of them. At times celebrities can have some control of the image of themselves that’s projected but at some point it will be more interesting for the press to uncover the real, warts and all version.
However much Jose Mourinho wanted the press to bow in respect to his collective achievements all they wanted was a new story. At that moment, it seems to me that he had to get over whatever he thought his career represented and deal with the hole he was standing in. Whether or not he wanted to do that in that moment with the press was up to him but his future success will depend on dealing with now not harking back to past glories.
The old saying is that pride comes before a fall. Our human nature is to build ourselves up to make us feel good about ourselves. In his early days, Mourinho enjoyed building up his own myth, declaring himself to be the ‘special one’. Sooner or later when we build ourselves up and rely on our own abilities we will come up against our deficiencies.
We instinctively try and play the role of God in our lives to get things the way we want. The problem is we’re not God so we’re not up to the job.
The Bible says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. He opposes the proud because they’re on the wrong track. He alone is God and our attempts to boss life end badly.
Humility is the way forward – not putting ourselves down but seeing ourselves as we are – able but fallible and in need of help. Where we humble ourselves, God offers his grace, his resources – his power, guidance, wisdom and character – more than anything his faithful patience to bring out the best in us.
When the tough questions get asked, the answer is humility, which to have a healthy life should lead to accountability within community – to having people who can impart wisdom and kick us up the backside when required. I hope Jose has someone he can trust who can have a word, who can tell them that it’s not all about him and that when like the rest of us his inability smacks him in the face that is often just what is needed.
This article first appeared on www.christiantoday.com