José Mourinho has been many things in his big career: a coach, a mentor, an interpreter, an assistant, a winner, a controversial figure, an analyst, and.... a puppet? Yes, that’s right. A puppet with his own tv show about football. And Eurovision. And Halloween. And so much more. Eat that, Guardiola and Conte!
More than 12 years ago, there was a ‘special’ show on tv. Quite literally special: SPECIAL 1 TV. A comical take on the world of football and especially the Premier League. It once started as I’m On Setanta with José the puppet as host, answering calls from famous names like Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez, Didier Drogba, or Sir Ale Ferguson about Premier League matches, transfers, etc. Later on, he gets help from Wayne ‘the boy’ Rooney and Sven-Göran ‘it’ Eriksson as sidekicks. In January 2009 the popular show Setanta was surprisingly canceled but it soon made a comeback as SPECIAL 1 TV. And it only became better afterward.
There are a lot of hilarious moments and running gags, like Dave from Newcastle who is obsessed with Shola Ameobi. There’s Fabio Capello who José calls cabbage and never lets him finish his words. The countless number of times Mourinho says ‘I’m fantastic’ in the camera or “shut up Sven” are always funny, it never gets old. José always calls Wenger ‘Voyeur’ because he thinks Arsene is secretly jealous of his success and doesn’t leave him alone.
From time to time, sidekick Wayne also brought along his puppet baby Ronnie (Cristiano ‘no tracking back’ Ronaldo) causing some situations like Ronnie wanting milk or singing about waxing his chest and other... uhh, vital parts of his body. Mourinho’s arch-nemesis, Arsene Wenger, gets some air time as co-host and the World Cup 2010 in South Africa is also one of the recurring themes in the show, with special attention to the England NT. José even gets calls from a certain Nelson from South Africa and Barack from Washington supporting him.
Various mails and tweets from viewers and professional footballers all around the world spiced things up. I, for one, loved how Mourinho always introduces the ton-load of tweets and mails he receives in a weird sort of sexual way. ‘You’ve been doing it on me steadily from all angles’. ‘You’ve been pouring it all over me’. ‘You’ve been doing it on me so much, if you were a disease, I would be riddled!’. Yeah, that’s my kind of humor.
I think one of the strong points of the show was its characters and their enlarged personalities. José is arrogant, has a massive ego, and thinks he’s fantastic and the main star (spoiler: of course he is). He just tells everybody to shut up when he’s losing a debate and doesn’t care about others’ opinions. Sven is José’s favorite victim and often humiliates himself, dancing like a clown or dressing up like a nun or a Christmas elf.
Wayne has a thick Scouse accent and has a problem pronouncing the footballer Kaka or every other word starting with c-, sc- or ch-. He is actually the most intelligent and versatile one of the bunch (who knew?). Capello’s strong Italian accent looks straight out of a The Godfather movies. Drogba, Beckham (not the smartest caller mind you), Wenger, Roy Keane—their accents really are all on point.
The details of the puppets themselves are quite amazing and the likeliness with their real-life counterparts is uncanny. Capello’s chin, Rooney’s ears, Mourinho’s magnificent grey hair, Sven’s big forehead, Wenger’s sad eyes, and sharp nose. After a while, you really start to believe it’s them hosting this show. Most episodes last approx. 5-6 min which is perfect for the format—It never slows down.
If you were/are a fan of the series or just curious about this show: every episode is on YouTube thanks to user/my hero Doitchampions so it’s easy to start a marathon today and binge-watch until midnight. Yes, it’s that good. Honestly, there are so many good moments I cannot list them all here. There are probably some golden quotes I’m forgetting right now. Certainly, give it a try if you like absurdist humor.
Oh and don’t forget...