When it comes to comedic touchline moments, few do it better than Jose Mourinho. From his infamous moment of hiding in a laundry bin to his knack for winding up opponents, and let’s not forget the memorable moment when he booted Olly Murs at Soccer Aid, Mourinho is known for his funny antics. However, this weekend, the enigmatic manager took a different route, leaving fans both bemused and touched by his latest display of quirkiness.
In a pre-season showdown between Mourinho’s AS Roma and Albanian side Partizani, the Portuguese mastermind once again found himself at the centre of attention. With Roma comfortably leading 2-0 and just 11 minutes left on the clock, Mourinho unveiled a tactical twist that left everyone scratching their heads – he decided to bring off newly-acquired midfielder Houssem Aouar, intentionally finishing the match with 10 men.
Aouar, who recently signed for Roma, appeared confused as Mourinho beckoned him over amidst the ongoing play. The brief exchange between manager and player left Aouar realising he was being subbed off early. The fourth official briefly interjected, but Mourinho and Aouar strolled back to the bench as Roma soldiered on with a numerical disadvantage.
But what were the reasons behind this? Sources close to the situation revealed Mourinho’s multifaceted reasoning. Corriere dello Sport divulged that Mourinho’s decision was motivated by his desire to balance the playing field. Partizani had found themselves a man down after their manager, Zoran Zekic, made a substitution error. Attempting to replace an already-substituted player, Zekic was left red-faced as the referee declined his plea for a correction, forcing Partizani to trudge on a man short.
As soon as Mourinho realised what had happened, he saw an opportunity to level the playing field and make the match a fair contest once more. By sacrificing Aouar, he aimed to create a balanced contest where both sides had 10 men apiece. To make his decision easier, the rough treatment Aouer was getting from the opposition risked causing a risk of injury.
As Roma gears up for the upcoming Serie A campaign, Mourinho’s unique approach to the pre-season encounter provides a refreshing reminder of the character that football desperately needs. While his offbeat antics continue to raise eyebrows, moments like these shed light on a different side of the Special One – a side that harbours great humility.