COMMENT: Can they really be that tone deaf? Or just willfully ignorant? Whatever it is, those pundits claiming confusion over Jose Mourinho's "manhunt" comments need to get out of their bubble and take a closer look at what the Manchester United manager has faced this season.
It's not genius. It's not perceptive. Need to know why Mourinho is always scowling? It's easy. Take a look at the coverage. A serious look. This isn't about criticising a manager's tactics. His approach. Even his response to criticism. This has become personal. Nasty. Ugly. But not from the manager. No. This is all one way traffic. And this is why Mourinho talked about a "manhunt" after that glorious comeback against Newcastle United.
Rio Ferdinand branded the Mourinho claims as "laughable". Paul Scholes wished the manager "would stop moaning". Between the two of them, Ferdinand and Scholes boast over 800 appearances for United. But you can wager they've never had a national newspaper brand them as a "stain on football". Just as you can bet neither has been described as "drowning in his own bile". Indeed, another claim this season is Mourinho hasn't just damaged United, but has "soiled" the entire Premier League brand.
For certain journalists. For certain media sources. This is personal. They've thrown it all in. Personally invested everything in seeing Mourinho gone. There's no way back now. How does a writer who, in terms of profile, regards himself at the level of Mourinho, find a way to portray something positive about a man whom you've described as a "stain" not a month earlier? The short answer is you can't.
Yes, Mourinho has snapped back. But he's never taken it to a personal level. He's not singled out an individual reporter to call him a "stain" on journalism. He's not pointed a finger at an op-ed writer (if any of them actually venture to a presser these days) and described his work as "bile". But this is what he's having to face down this season - and you'd like to think there'd be at least some ex-pros who could relate.
Do they open the newspaper in the morning? Scan the news sites online? As much as those sitting on the TV sofas are claiming bewilderment at Mourinho's response, the very same accusation can be leveled at them for missing how toxic some sources have become towards the Portuguese. Even Mike Ashley, the much beleaguered Newcastle United owner, has had Dennis Wise and Tony Jimenez fighting his corner in the press this season...
Of course, there'll be some who say Mourinho should just take it in the chin. Turn the other cheek. But that's not Mourinho. That's not how he's made. The idea that the same man who all those years ago created an opportunity for himself. Who convinced Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting CP to give him a job as a translator. Who fought with everything he had to build a dream career for himself. The idea that same man is now going to meekly acquiesce. To allow others to define him in such a personal, vindictive way. It's ridiculous.
No-one owns this game. No opinion is rock solid correct. This game has a wonderful way of leaving even the most self assured with egg on their face. Going into the weekend, one scribe described Mourinho and Rafa Benitez as yesterday's men. It was the entertainers who were the future. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. That's whom every manager should aspire to be. Yet by Sunday night, Liverpool and Manchester City had played out a drab stalemate at Anfield and 24 hours on, we were all still trying to recover from the five-goal thriller at Old Trafford. For the actors in this game, the only certainty is the uncertainty.
Yes, Mourinho doesn't help himself. And yes, United could do with a cheer leader at the head of the club. But that's just it. That's Mourinho. He's flawed. Like all of us.
But it's no flaw to want to defend yourself. To fight back. With it all now so personal, believing Mourinho will simply doff his cap and accept it is the stuff of, well, the same that had him being sacked this weekend...