Ken Early: Mourinhoball will be real winner of the World Cup

Pace, power, and passion: José’s kind of football is on its way back to the top

France midfielder Paul Pogba is among the players who have dominated in the tournament. Photograph: Franck FIfe/AFP/Getty Images

France midfielder Paul Pogba is among the players who have dominated in the tournament. Photograph: Franck FIfe/AFP/Getty Images

José Mourinho has kept busy during the World Cup with a punditry gig on RT (formerly Russia Today). Listening to his analysis, you quickly realise that you are actually watching early Manchester United 2018-19 press conferences. He’s praising Paul Pogba for humbly submitting to a water-carrying role in front of the French defence, or he’s wistfully rhapsodising about the amazing qualities of Ivan Perisic, the powerful Croatian winger he’s spent the last two years telling Ed Woodward to sign . . . and so on. José never really switches off.

But what’s even more notable is how happy he looks: grinning, relaxed, the soul of good cheer. Maybe the strength of this impression is due to the contrast with his normal demeanour. Mourinho is happy because he loves what he is seeing on the pitch. Last season he was often accused of being yesterday’s man. Russia 2018 suggests that, when it comes to the international game at least, José’s kind of football is on its way back to the top.

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