A recent book about José Mourinho has opened up about his Machiavellian dealing with the press. Former tabloid writer Rob Beasley has revealed how he befriended the Portuguese manager and step by step became his trusted lieutenant in the press box. Or perhaps was it the other way round?
The headline-grabbing reviews on "José Mourinho: Up Close and Personal" focused on Mr Mourinho's alleged remarks regarding his relationship with Arsenal Football Club manager Arsène Wenger and interest in vacancies at the FA and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. However, beneath some juicy anecdotes (and some odd ones - like the one about Jennifer Aniston), there is little value in new information about Mr Mourinho's career so far. What I have found more interesting in reading the book was the mechanism that the Portuguese used in controlling the message that went out to both general public as well as his adversaries - be them other managers, chairmen, or even some of his players.
Just like Rui Faria serves in the dugout and Jorge Mendes in boardrooms, Mr Beasley has become José Mourinho's man in the press. Spinning and twisting various stories in the Portuguese's favour and interest, the book is an uncomfortable read. It offers a first-hand account of the "I scratch you back, you scratch mine" phenomenon in media. Naturally, it goes far beyond football and even in this disciple Mr Mourinho wouldn't have been the first person to use it, yet it poses a couple of uncomfortable questions for the author himself. Mainly, doesn't this book actually question some of his journalistic achievements and scoops, as all he had to do in a number of high-profile revelations was to open his mailbox or check texts messages?
Mr Mourinho escapes unscathed from such a publication as the book can only aspire to be his biography, let alone something he could authorise to be written on his behalf. With Mr Beadsley's recent departure from his high-ranked red top newspaper role, it seems obvious that the Portuguese might have already nurtured a new candidate that would make sure that a Mourinho-tinted point of view is represented in the most popular broadsheet titles.
With a few tough weeks ahead and the January 2017 transfer window coming up, take a pinch of salt when reading various gossips and speculations of ins and outs at Old Trafford. If "Up Close and Personal" was to leave any meaningful legacy in football literature, it would to think critically all you read in the media and whose interest it serves.