José Mourinho is a schoolyard bully supreme, a man who radiates machismo but rarely does anything to justify it. Lest we forget, for example, he once jabbed his finger into the eye of an opponent before scuttling away in case things got rough:
This is the kind of underhand act that has come to define the Portuguese coach’s career since he first slithered into our consciousness a decade or so ago.
And if there’s any other person of renown who projects a similar air of posturing, craven megalomania, it’s Donald Trump, an equally vituperative individual who just happens to be in charge of a massive nuclear arsenal rather than a football club.
When they first came on the scene, both men were seen by some (the ‘some’ must really be emphasised here) as a breath of fresh air. Straight-talking, ostentatiously virile patriarchs who told it like it was, and who weren’t afraid to poke the establishment bear.
Whatever you felt about them, they shook things up. Mourinho by challenging the Wenger-Ferguson executive in his early years at Chelsea; Trump by forging a political path that alienated both sides of a similarly arcane duopoly, the Democratic and Republican parties. And they did so in much the same way: by antagonising and blackening the names of all those opposed to them.
This approach brought them huge success: Mourinho a pile of trophies, Trump a Presidency. Consequently, they now find themselves in charge of two superpowers going through relatively tough times. And it looks as if this responsibility might be getting to them.
These days, Trump resembles a paranoid, doddery grandfather frantically gibbering on about conspiracies and ‘Fake News’. He has created an us-against-them atmosphere among his supporters, a zealous and intransigent band of lackeys for many of whom he is infallible – despite a growing sense of weary exasperation with his antics in the wider population. He grumbles on ad nauseum about ‘respect’, yet shows none to anyone who has nothing to offer him.
Just replace the third word of the previous paragraph with ‘Mourinho’ and you have a pretty accurate summation of the Manchester United manager.
These men are masters of obfuscation. Specialists in half-truths who spout tin-foil hat nonsense in order to conceal their own shortcomings. How often have we seen the Satsuma Stalin bleating on about Crooked Hilary’s emails, CNN or Kim Jong-Un as part of a scrambling effort to keep the focus away from his mistakes and missteps?
Aside from literally putting the safety of the planet in jeopardy, there’s little moral difference between Trump’s madcap smoke-and-mirrors and Mourinho’s constant attempts to shift the focus onto referees, opponents or, most recently, loud music and cartons of milk.
And yet, despite their incessant barrage of misdirection, the tide may be turning against them.
For The Donald, time is surely nearly up: the monstrous, arcane organisation he heads appears to be slowly edging him towards the exit door. For José, after defeat to Manchester City – and his greatest managerial rival – the cracks may start to widen. Perhaps, for the first time in the careers of these two men, they may be sensing that the only way from here is down.