'Everyone's taking the p*ss out of you!' - Jose Mourinho's touchline tantrums have made him a laughing stock
In his very first press conference as Roma coach, Jose Mourinho insisted he was a changed man. "I won't be the one going looking for trouble," he promised. "I have more experience now. I'm more solid emotionally."
If that claim sounded borderline comical at the time, it looks downright ridiculous right now.
On Tuesday, Mourinho's Roma were beaten 2-1 at Cremonese, damaging their own hopes of finishing in Serie A's top four, while at the same time gifting a first victory of the season to their hosts.
It was a humiliating result for Mourinho, but his conduct was even more embarrassing.
Shortly after half-time, the Portuguese, incensed by a perceived foul on Marash Kumbulla by Frank Tsadjout, began remonstrating with the fourth official, demanding an explanation for the lack of a free-kick.
It's been reported that Marco Serra told Mourinho to "Mind his own f*cking business" and "Sit down, everyone's taking the p*ss out of you."
Mourinho was only further enraged, probably because he knew that the fourth official was right.
Mourinho the meme
One of the most decorated managers in football history, who was both dismissed and suspended for his touchline tantrum, has become a laughing stock, his pathetic petulance now the subject of a multitude of memes.
We've probably all seen – and laughed at – the gif of Mourinho sitting calmly on the bench before realising a decision has gone against his side and then hurtling towards the fourth official to complain.
Last season, meanwhile, we were also treated to the 'amusing' image of Mourinho being forced to watch his side's clash with Spezia on an iPad on the team bus having been hit with a two-game ban after being sent off – and kicking the ball away – in a 2-2 draw with Verona.
Jose Mourinho watched Roma's game against Spezia on an iPad from the team bus due to his touchline ban 😅— GOAL (@goal) February 28, 2022
📸 IG/nunosantosgkcoach pic.twitter.com/SXALMf3kZt
However, there's no denying that a decreasing number of people, particularly those working within the game, still see the funny side of Mourinho's behaviour – or that of his backroom team.
Indeed, it's worth noting that when Mourinho was sent to the stands, he was able to sit alongside Salvatore Fonti, who is still serving a one-month touchline ban for insulting referee Michael Fabbri and threatening a Cremonese director after the two side's previous meeting, in the Coppa Italia.
And that Roma had two members of their coaching staff suspended at the same time was wholly unsurprising.
Mourinho's 'shocking' attitude
Earlier this season, Mourinho and his assistants disgraced themselves in a shameful spat which saw Roma goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos involved in a physical altercation with Bodo/Glimt boss Kjetil Knutsen.
Both men claimed self-defence, but both were suspended by UEFA, infuriating Knutsen, who was disgusted by not only by Santos and the suspension, but also Mourinho.
Knutsen said: "[Mourinho's] type of attitude is shocking. His values and his way of coaching are so far from what I represent. It’s incredibly disappointing to see such behaviour from a coach with so many titles and who has been part of the sport for such a long time."
Nobody else who has followed Mourinho's career was in the least bit surprised, of course. He has plenty of previous, so there was little shock when he found himself at the centre of another ugly episode just a few days later, when another member of Mourinho's coaching team disgraced himself by mocking Salernitana over their potential relegation from Serie A.
Mourinho apologised and yet even then couldn't resist a snide comment of his own, with the 59-year-old electing to take yet another shot at Bodo-Glimt.
"We are civilised people, what happens on the field ends there," he said without a trace of irony. "Nobody will be waiting outside 45 minutes later to punch someone in the face."
However, Salernitana director Walter Sabatini wasted little time in tackling Mourinho's claim that he and his staff were "civilised", accusing them of "ignoble behaviour".
“With every refereeing decision, everyone pours onto the pitch from the bench, it’s unjustifiable," he fumed in an interview with DAZN. "We can lose to Roma, but not like this.
"I know full well that as soon as he hears this he will say I’ve never won anything and therefore cannot speak. I have not won 25 trophies, but I am a serious person and deserve respect nonetheless. But I see arrogance [in Mourinho]."
He's not the only one. In Roma's very next league outing, against Napoli, Mourinho accused the officials of conspiring against his side. An unsurprised Luciano Spalletti simply refused to dignify that claim with a response.
The worst disciplinary record in Serie A
Mourinho's supporters will obviously argue that this was just another masterful move straight out of the Portuguese's playbook, diverting attention away from a shockingly poor performance from his players.
Certainly, the way in which Mourinho said he didn't want to get into the fact that Serra was from Turin and Roma host Juventus on Sunday while... you know... getting into that fact that Serra was from Turin was classic Jose. The desperate threat of legal action against the fourth official was also typical of the man.
But the fact of the matter is that Mourinho has now picked up a yellow or red card on eight occasions in less than two years at the Stadio Olimpico.
What's more, with his third dismissal of the 2022-23 campaign, a 60-year-old man now has the worst disciplinary record in Serie A this season – and not just among coaches, but players too.
Is that amusing? Perhaps, but it's also arguably a little sad. And undeniably counterproductive.
Mourinho incapable of change
It's worth noting that the Cremonese clash was still 1-1 when Mourinho had his meltdown. He may be a "magician" in terms of his powers of motivation, but he's no use to his players if he's not able to take his seat on the sidelines.
Red cards aren't really comical. They're costly. Mourinho wasn't there for his team when they needed him on Tuesday. Nor will he be present when they face Juve in a game they could really do with winning to boost their Champions League qualification hopes, as they're in very real danger of being overtaken by a side hit with a 15-point penalty earlier this season.
One wonders, then, if the joke is beginning to wear a little thin, particularly at Roma.
They knew, of course, exactly what they were getting when they hired Mourinho. Despite all of the drama that comes with the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United boss, they were drawn to his "passion" and his "personality". He also said he'd grown up, that he'd matured, that he'd change.
But the truth is that Mourinho is incapable of change, and one wonders how much longer his employers will be willing to put up with this tired old act if it jeopardises their hopes of Champions League football.
Indeed, it's telling that in spite of the fact that Mourinho did an incredible job rebuilding Roma during his first season at the club, winning the Europa Conference League, there have been constant signs of tension and mounting reports that the club and the coach will go their separate ways this summer if the Giallorossi fail to finish in the top four.
His suspensions are hardly helping, then. Indeed, as the Gazzetta dello Sport wrote after his latest sending-off on Tuesday night, "Mourinho certainly doesn't give peace of mind."
Neither to the team nor the board.
Still an 'enemy of football'
One obviously has to acknowledge that if Serra is found to have spoken to a coach in such disrespectful and foul-mouthed fashion, he should be reprimanded.
However, Mourinho's two-game touchline ban is also merited. He is, after all, a serial offender. He's by no means the only culprit, of course, but he is the worst still operating at the very highest level.
And in a toxic era for football in which the number of referees is decreasing because the level of abuse is increasing, the behaviour of Mourinho and others has very far-reaching consequences, as he well knows, given his involvement in Anders Frisk's retirement.
Remember, it's been 18 years since he was labelled an "enemy of football" by Volker Roth, the chairman of UEFA's referees' committee, and his treatment of officials has hardly improved in the interim.
On the contrary, it's actually worsened, which is why so many coaches, directors, officials and fans have either had enough of him – or are now taking the p*ss out of him. He's become a farcical figure.
The man who derived so much pleasure from mocking others over the years is now the butt of the joke, meaning even those who still find Mourinho's antics amusing are no longer laughing with him, but at him.