It had started in glory, but like with most leaders, it eventually became too much. That infallible leader had to go. The public clamoured. The conspirators decreed it. It was in the interest of the better good. They came in plain sight. What’s worse; it wasn’t the blows of Casca, Cinna, or even Cassius that downed Julius Caesar. It was the sight of his old comrade, Brutus stabbing him in the heart which brought the most pain and betrayal.
Et tu Brute?
Then fall Caesar. Has José Mourinho seen his conspirators coming? Mourinho might have waged a brave trench war against his enemies in Manchester but he no doubt felt his knees buckle like Caesar when he heard of Antonio Valencia’s internet activities during the week. There was no newspaper sting involved. There were no illicit actions to be condemned. Valencia’s offense was graver, more hurtful and damning; having liked a post on Instagram calling for his manager to be sacked.
Et tu Brute?
Then fall José. Were it any of Mourinho’s other acolytes, the pain might not be so egregious. Had Paul Pogba or Anthony Martial lent their support to the criticism of Mourinho, it would merely fuel an already burning fire. But it was Valencia. The epitome of a Mourinho player. His new Ivanović. The player whom Mourinho once said he had tried to sign for Real Madrid. A warrior if ever there was one. A player whom José Mourinho has trusted implicitly to carry his message onto the battlefield.
Valencia was chosen by Mourinho to be captain when it appeared that Mourinho did not have many true eligible contenders to be captain. The former Wigan man has epitomised commitment to the cause since joining United. Valencia has been a devoted servant in Manchester but exertion alone is not enough to warrant captaincy. He has many more talented and inspirationally vocal teammates but Mourinho chose Valencia as he set the standard of acceptable performance level in a José Mourinho dressing room.
Perhaps Mourinho wanted his own voice to be the loudest.
In defence of the Ecuadorian, he has never given an interview in English during his time at Manchester United and one of the criticisms of his choice as captain was his inability to speak English. He might have translated the incendiary Instagram post into Spanish, but did he really? Is it more likely that Antonio Valencia decided to ‘like’ a picture posted on an Instagram account in his honour because he liked the picture, presumed the post was supportive and wanted to return the kindness?
Mourinho went to great lengths on Tuesday night to look magnanimous on the Old Trafford pitch following United’s draw with Valencia CF. Mourinho hugged Valencia players and congratulated them on their performances. He didn’t seem bothered by the distractions of life. But had we seen this before? We had indeed. It happened in 2013 when Mourinho’s Real Madrid defeated Manchester United and Mourinho, then the Real Madrid manager, then seeking the Manchester United job, sought out the United players and support.
Julius Caesar opined that it is far easier to find men who would volunteer to die for a cause than to find those who would endure with patience. Mourinho would have considered Antonio Valencia one of his most trusted martyrs, one honourable enough to die for a cause and support his manager. Valencia’s Instagram debacle will no doubt have been the blow which will have hurt Mourinho the most.
Et tu Antonio?
The die is now cast. There are indeed conspirators afoot at Old Trafford. José Mourinho knows that. Watching the performances against Derby, West Ham and Valencia CF on Tuesday night highlighted that something is indeed rotten in Manchester. Paul Pogba is a supposed conspirator. But Pogba did not play in the game against Derby and was substituted against West Ham. Mourinho has changed his team sheet so much in recent weeks that identifying the true conspirators has become almost impossible.
The Portuguese does not know whom he can trust, but it is possible that his enemies are now so pervasive in Manchester that it does not matter from which direction the fatal blow comes.
It is unlikely that Mourinho will suffer exactly the same fate as Caesar. His demise will not be fatal at least. But Jose’s day of judgement will come, and it is likely to be far sooner than the Ides of March.