The Special One enacted his Second Coming today, stepping over hundreds of swooning hacks to give his first proper press conference since being re-named Chelsea manager.
The deeply satirical Guardian Football Blog writers have rendered their verdict on Real Madrid's ex-coach in England in The Fiver this morning. The trouble from our perspective is that the press in Spain can't help missing him! This week, there have been few prominent players with the Spanish National Team who have not been baited for a quote. Pity the players for the fact that everything they say (and that includes "no comment") can be taken as derisive, or insulting, or un-supportive, or overly supportive depending on how it is spun out of context.
And pity the journalists. It's footballing silly-season. There are only so many transfer stories you can invent before running out of ideas.
Now there are exceptions, of course. Take noted football moralist, philosopher and aesthete Xavi Hernandez who said this week that a great club cannot play football like Real Madrid did under Mourinho. Normally one would assume a quote being taken out of context, but Barcelona's midfielder apparently is continuing his quest to become a walking and talking and deeply amusing and somewhat lovable parody ("we dominated possession against Bayern!") of his own somewhat sanctimonious and greatly quotable self.
The quote on possession was not made up, incidentally.
Sound like an innocuous comment? Headlines ranged the full gamut from the scandalous - "Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos Lash Out At Mourinho" - to a far more restrained and downright boring - "The Press Will Miss Mourinho More Than The Players." It's becoming a veritable game of pick-your-interpretation.
Pity Andres Iniesta too. His throw-away line on Mourinho damaging the league has generated one hundred headlines and a riposte from the man himself ("I broke Barca's hegemony"). Of less interest, predictably, was the faintly desperate "But I don't want to talk about that anymore" that formed the second portion of his sentence.
Perhaps the most graceful note struck this week was from Iker Casillas following Alvaro Arbeloa's comments condemning the dressing room and Albiol's more cryptic ones implying a split in the dressing room over those comments. Arbeloa was largely right, said Casillas.
He has his own point of view and that's it. The most important thing is that I'm back playing. Have I spoken to him? There's nothing to talk about, it's his opinion and you have to respect it. Most of what he said was right.
It was an intelligent move straight out of the school of agreement as a means of diffusing tension.
We live in hope, anyway!
Florentino Perez In Marca
There was nothing particularly interesting about the second portion of the interview. Nothing new revealed, for example. Though to be fair: Perez can have his moments of self-parody too.
Ancelotti is a coach we like, I'd point out that he has nearly signed for Real Madrid twice before. He's won two Champions Leagues, knows how to handle big-name players and is used to working under pressure... Missing out on coaching Real Madrid for a third time would feel like a curse for him.
Here is a link to Marca's own English rendering of the interview.