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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019

TV Wrap - Jose and Arsene come together to star on Champions League final night

Once enemies, Mourinho and Wenger were the stars of the show as Michael Owen painted the town beige on BT Sport.

Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger.
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger.

TO SEE VIRGIN Media dedicate a part of their 5.30pm news bulletin to a live feed of the referee arriving at the Champions League final on Saturday evening was to realise that Current Affairs finally had their priorities in order.

Virgin took just the two hours of pre-game build-up to the game, as did BT Sport.

Not that this was necessary – three weeks of forecast, analysis and stirring, Sigur Ros-backed montages meant everything that had to be said or replayed already had been.

That said, Virgin did provide us with some OJ Simpson-style footage of the Spurs team bus driving to the ground, made briefly dramatic when it took a wrong turn.

Host Tommy Martin ba-dum-tished his way through an admirable “late turnaround for Spurs” gag.

With everything about the actual match analysed within an inch of its life weeks ago, Bein Sports went one further and called bullshit on the Darwinian principles of football and, indeed, of life.

They did so by signing up Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger for the final, and perched them high in the stadium like wise philosophers in the sky.

With one of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino finally set to put an end to the ‘Yeah, but what’s he won?’ argument favoured by people like er, Jose Mourinho, our reverse Statler and Waldorf pairing were looking out for the other guy.

“We are here to protect the loser. It’s not fair but it is the reality, it’s not fair to say one of them fail, in the case of the managers even more” said Jose ahead of the game, sitting beside the man he once called a “specialist in failure.”

But that was wartime Jose amid his strict rationing of praise and goodwill.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge Wenger and Mourinho in days more fraught. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

This is peacetime Jose, who is free to grow heavy and decadent on a feast of civil human relations.

“I totally agree with Mr. Wenger” he said at one point, nodding furiously in the direction of the man he once called a “voyeur.”

Truly, no man has ever agreed with such conviction.

Then it was Mr. Wenger’s turn to agree.

“We live in a society where you feel that if you’re not the best you are Mr. Nobody. In our world, even more. What is cruel in this game is that one jumps to the roof and the other cries.”

This isn’t to say that neither of them discussed the actual game.

Jose nicely summed up the clash of styles in the game ahead of kick-off – “We know this is Liverpool; Tottenham can be many things” – and admired Liverpool for representing “pure stability.”

Both pondered the ramifications of picking Kane.

Arsene said eager players convince physios they are fit, so the manager “doesn’t know who to trust”, which brought another vigorous bout of nodding from Jose.

Mourinho, meanwhile, said Pochettino had “many conversations with his pillow” over whether to select Lucas or Kane.

In the end, the Kane gamble didn’t work.

With Liverpool champions of Europe, Michael Owen earned the right to paint the town beige on BT Sport but alas, their post-match debrief filled almost all of this column’s BT Sport Bingo Card.

Rio Ferdinand talking about winning something with Manchester United – check.

Michael Owen saying things of such little consequence that you forget the beginning of the sentence he is about to conclude – check.

An exhaustive discussion about a refereeing decision – check.

A “game’s gone” – check. (H/T Glenn Hoddle.)

Gary Lineker replying to something slightly unexpected by telling a pundit how old they are – check. (H/T Glenn Hoddle.)

A Peter Walton appearance – check.

(For those unaware – Walton is a kind of Tesco Value Mike Dean who tells BT Sport why the contentious refereeing decision under discussion was right all along, and earned brief international fame when he accidentally appeared for a second after Lucas Moura’s winner against Ajax, shockingly spliced into mainstream entertainment like Tyler Durden’s porn.)

The stars of the show however, were Jose and Arsene.

“A very, very average Liverpool” was Arsene’s verdict on the winners’ performance, and said that Spurs will leave feeling they are better than they suggested, but were lacking belief they could actually go and win the thing.

Jose was true to his word at the top of the show, promising that “Mauricio and Tottenham will feel some love at home.”

Looking down from the top of the Metropolitano and the angle of their months away from the brutal white heat of competition, Jose and Arsene had clearly grasped a sense of perspective on it all, and the mad managerial psychodrama they were once a part of. 

Below them, amid his awful sorrow, Mauricio Pochettino managed to bring himself to congratulate Liverpool on their “fantastic season.”

“A gentleman”, declared Lineker.

Jose and Arsene are right – any sport classing Pochettino as a failure has its priorities badly out of joint.

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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