By 90Min
October 08, 2018

Feeling sorry for Jose Mourinho is not a natural occurrence. It is disorientating, weird - very much unnatural. But it may have been what quite a few neutrals were feeling at the half way point of Manchester United's clash with Newcastle on Saturday. 

His players were limp, lifeless and abysmal. Bereft of confidence and every essence of the 'United' way, the Red Devils looked lost in the face of a Newcastle team rife with every contrasting emotion. 

Of course, you may have been laughing at Mourinho's fate - it's completely understandable. But it was also palpable inside Old Trafford as to who they blamed for the malaise of that opening 45 minutes. As Gary Neville predicted in his articulate five minute rant on Friday night, the home support were well and truly behind their manager - pointedly clapping him off as he walked/ran into the dressing room. 

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As a Chelsea fan, that first half was a mixture of both - exhilarating, yet poignant. Because Blues supporters are all too familiar with peaks and troughs of a Mourinho campaign. The troughs are drastic, and dreary when it's happening to your team, but joyous for the neutral onlookers. The highlights are just as stirring. That's what he inspires.

Every cut away to Jose on the touchline, of which there were many, was utter Box Office. Whatever you think of him, the man is a walking headline, exuding emotion and charisma from every sinew of his body as he prowled his technical area and beyond. And on Saturday, he was in full WWE heel mode.

Most opposing fans dislike (even despise) the Red Devils. Yet, when Juan Mata's free kick flew in - which shouldn't of been a surprise, given the Spaniard's unbelievable conversion rate - and Anthony Martial's sublime equaliser slapped the net, and Alexis Sanchez salvaged a win, opposition fans likely couldn't help but smile, just as they had when Newcastle scored.

It's not that United clawing back momentum on their way to a vital victory brought Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool joy - it didn't. But you better believe Mourinho's performance did. And it wasn't because he had proved the doubters and us media Einsteins wrong, because he hadn't really - it was a closely fought tit-for-tat win over relegation candidates. 

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It was instead out of unbridled excitement at watching all of the Premier League's wondrous narratives going through a roller-coaster ride of conformity and rebellion. The vultures were circling, and Mourinho somehow evaded them, offering a customary 'shhh; and even an inaugural pinky finger to signify...well, you decide.

Because, no matter how we dress it up, it is the personalities that make the English league the world leader, not necessarily the quality of the players.

Arbitrary or not, you can't argue with the fact that since the league's creation in 1992 (and even more so going back further) out of 78 possible berths, only 11 players have been in the top three of the Ballon d'Or nominations, with Micheal Owen and Cristiano Ronaldo as the sole winners. 

Even now, with the stark disparity in funds between other European leagues, the players aren't tangibly better on our shores. It's the managers that set Richard Scudamore's enterprise apart, and particularly their idiosyncratic personalities.

No man has set the managerial tone in England quite like the Portuguese tactician. Even if his tactics are evidently on the wane, his media manipulation has groomed a generation of coaches to step up to the theatrical plate.

For younger fans, the 55-year-old has been a near-constant in their lives. Even when he wasn't operating in England, he was still taking shots from afar; ousting Chelsea and Manchester United from the Champions League at Inter and Real Madrid respectively.

It must be said he's also done some fairly reprehensible things, and his influence has always teetered on the precipice of good and evil. But that's what makes him who he is, and why he is who is today.

Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

In the tiresome back and forth with Paul Pogba, it was taken as verbatim that the Frenchman is the more marketable of the two for United. That's hard to argue with, but as for who does more for the Premier League, positive and negative, it's the Portuguese provocateur all day. 

And, if you unequivocally reject everything the man represents, then find comfort in the fact that this is almost certainly not sustainable - it has merely prolonged the inevitable. 

We are in the rest within the storm, and though the clouds have momentarily cleared, they are merely regaining strength for the next tempest. Chelsea away, anyone?

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