One joke used to demonstrate Brian Clough’s well known lack of modesty has him arriving at the gates of heaven and being offered entry by St Peter, providing he can correctly identify the Holy Trinity. Cloughie points at the three in turn, saying “You’re the Holy Spirit, you’re Jesus Christ ... and thank you for keeping my seat warm, young man!”
Clough never got to manage any of the biggest clubs – and didn’t manage in mainland Europe – but he would have identified with another boss who has just confirmed that he, too, is right not to let modesty get in the way. José Mourinho, Setúbal’s most famous son, has now become only the second manager to lift the European cup in two different countries, and he wants to do it in a third.
Mourinho first won the Champions’ League in his native Portugal with FC Porto: the size of the club’s ambition and presence is not hard to notice, with their home, the huge Estádio do Dragão, or Dragons’ Stadium, looking down over the city. The club has won the Liga four times since Mourinho left, but not the Champions’ League.
The side that has just won Chelsea another Premiership title is at its heart Mourinho’s, and now he has done a treble with Inter Milan. The next stop for this true legend among managers is said to be Real Madrid: if Mourinho can get the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo to remember that, as Rushie used to say at Liverpool, “it’s a team game”, then he will have proved his greatness.
Any less and they’ll sack him. Ask Fabio Capello.