Jose Mourinho's influence goes beyond ceding possession, eponymousing Claude Makelele and looking raffish in a double-breasted overcoat. No manager has done more to popularise one of football's most overused phrases – to be in a moment.
There was a time when only Spanish or Portuguese coaches used the construction, a team "in a good moment", a player "in a tough moment" etc. Their momento, usually understood as a generalised period, is rendered in English as "a moment", which seemed both fleeting and awkward. Now it sounds almost natural, even from native English speakers. "We're not in a great moment," said Frank Lampard after Chelsea's defeat to Arsenal last week, identical words to Graham Potter after losing to Newcastle in November. Tune in next season to hear the Mauricio Pochettino reprise.
Nobody has been in more moments than Mourinho. The current Roma manager took the Manchester United job "in a stable moment". When watching Andy Murray at Queen's in 2019 Mourinho said Murray was "in a special moment in his career". Tottenham were "in a difficult moment" 10 weeks before Mourinho was sacked. Who knows what sort of moment they find themselves in now, or how to describe Mourinho's current moment?
It has involved winding up referees, a journalist and a club which may be pursuing him. Is he in a mischievous moment? In a combative moment? Is that any different to any other moment he has been in for the past 20 years? No, he is in a Mourinho moment.
We are a little more than 18 months beyond his nadir, conceding six in the Europa Conference League to Norway's Bodo/Glimt, less an eminent football team more the midpoint of a URL. Clearly the ECL is guilty of the same mistake as Scotland against Brazil in 1982, it made Mourinho angry. He went on to win the competition last year and therefore qualification for the Europa League.
Now Bayer Leverkusen stand in the way of another European final, with Mourinho's side 1-0 up from their Europa League semi-final first leg, and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly considering an approach. "If they called, they didn't find me," said Mourinho, laughing it off for now, in the way you might laugh off Jagerbombs at the start of an all-day crawl before ordering 16 at 3pm.
He claimed he wore a microphone on the touchline for Roma's game against Monza because he had been burned previously by referee Daniele Chiffi "I'm not stupid, you know," Mourinho said. "Today, I went to the game with a microphone. I recorded everything. From the moment I left the locker room, to the moment I returned. I protected myself." Sadly no dramatic tearing of the shirt to reveal a wire by the fourth official who smelt a rat, or, thankfully, any long boat rides with Tony Soprano and associates.
Then before a rematch against ECL final losers Feyenoord, Mourinho told a Dutch journalist not to cry before giving him a Conference League keyring (£14.99 + £3.95 shipping. Run, don't walk to Uefa's online shop). Roma won 5-2 on aggregate.
Overall there is a sense of a manager who has rediscovered the joy of mild evil. Keyrings and covert recordings are so much nicer than poking Tito Vilanova in the eye, or eviscerating Luke Shaw until he is a mere husk of a full-back and Mourinho now looks like a wry silver fox again, not his most recent English incarnation as a tamed shrew. He is back to being provocative rather than sullen.
Perhaps his absence helps. By the end of his Tottenham stint he was a fading photocopy of his former self, a man whose name belonged in inverted commas. Now his shenanigans in Italy arrive like scrawled postcards and feel like an enjoyable throwback, not the paranoid ramblings of that sad man who lives at the hotel.
After Spurs and taking the Roma job he appeared to be moving in less distinguished circles. Portugal was thought to be his next move as recently as December, but Benfica or Al-Hilal would have been equally plausible. Now the credible PSG link suggests his stock is rising again.
He turned 60 in January, an age at which Sir Alex Ferguson had six more Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one Champions League ahead of him. PSG could match another phrase beloved by European coaches: "a beautiful project". Mourinho, written off and consigned to history, might just be back.