The Prince and the Courtier

Part I: The Prince

The first in a two-part series intended to illuminate the philosophy of football as practiced by La Liga’s premiere Josés, ‘MouMou’ Mourinho of Real Madrid and ‘Pep’ Guardiola of FC Barcelona, and thereby edumacate fans worldwide on the sport of soccer, the art of coaching and Renaissance and Golden Age speculum texts.

Today we consider MouMou and Niccolò Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ (c. 1513), a treatise  inspired by Ferdinand I of Aragón and dedicated to the great Lorenzo de Medici of Florence.

On loyalty:

A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests. –Machiavelli.

“A return to Inter? I won’t exclude it. But I always want the best for all.” — MouMou

On timeliness:

Whosoever desires constant success must change with the times. — Machiavelli.

“I want new risks, new experiences, and now is the moment to decide.” –MouMou

On fear:

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both. — Machiavelli.

“If [Real Madrid] do to me what happened with Alcorcón, they’ll be dead and buried to me.” –MouMou

On principle:

The end justifies the means. — Machiavelli

“Look, [Chelsea’s] not entertaining? I don’t care; we win.”  — MouMou

On order:

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it. — Machiavelli

“I intend to create the football team in relation to my image and my football philosophy.” — MouMou

On morals:

Politics have no relation to morals. — Machiavelli

“I am not concerned about how Chelsea are viewed morally.” –MouMou

On intelligence:

There are three classes of intellects:  one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, and the third is useless. — Machiavelli

“Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains. Sometimes you have ugly people who are intelligent, like scientists.” –MouMou

On preparation:

War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans. — Machiavelli

“He knows everything about his players – what time they go to bed, what they eat, how long they train. Mourinho wants to control every aspect of their lives.” – Portuguese journalist Neto, on MouMou.

On revenge:

If injury has to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. — Machiavelli

“If they don’t touch me, I won’t touch anyone. If they touch me, I’ll be ready to hit back even harder.” — MouMou

MouMou quotes from:,,

Machiavelli quotes from:,

Categorized as Barcelona

By SoccerMom

SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. My mind boggles when i think of the amount of research, arbitrary thinking, cross-subject exposure (psychology, classics, literature, sports), cross-cultural exposure (Spanish, American, Roman) and pure effort that goes into your pieces SoMa.

    A day will come when i wont just pretend to understand completely (by that i mean every single line, pun, innuendo) your posts just to act cool.

  2. Yuck… this is like submitting a final year thesis quoting only wikipedia. C’mon, Soccerlens,!?!?! Why not go all the way and use quote that are not even vaguely what Mourinho said?

  3. i can.t understand everything soccer mama!different language and culture it.s a problem for me!but very clever article..btw mourinio has change my mind this season.i dare to say that in the future(after 5 years)i will like to be our coach.



    1. That article wasn’t great to me because of a couple of lines…

      “Like poorly matched see-saw partners, when one is on the floor, the other is in the air.” Referring to Barça and Madrid.

      Because he says this, he forces himself into a corner and has to find fault with us and goes on to say

      “Barcelona are only one point behind, after their win at bottom-placed Zaragoza, but despite Messi’s continuing brilliance, the team doesn’t look quite so happy any more. They certainly looked leaden-footed against Copenhagen in midweek.”

      Stupid journalism to me. We aren’t so happy anymore? Why? Oh, because you made up some see-saw nonsense and because Madrid scored 6 and are playing well, we HAVE to be worse off. Not what I expect from Phil Ball. Sorry.

    2. i see what you mean, but we havent been dispatching our opponents with ease, we are poco acertado de cara al gol, whereas RM is putting opponents to the sword. course these “trends” change every couple games so its dumb to say too much about it. though it does seem that there is rarely a time where both teams are “flying high” — theres always a fly in the ointment for one or the other…

      and yeh sure it is a journalistic maneuver to create drama and make small things look big, see many posts on this here blog…. 🙂

    3. Also, Rosell’s name was consistently misspelled through the whole thing. That’s just sloppy.

  5. the squad for copa:pinto,mino,bartra,adriano,fontas,puyol,abidal,maxwell,mache,tiago,dos santos,pedro,bojan,jeffren,nolito,keita.the
    team will travel in plane and then with helicopter!

  6. This should probably go in the other thread, but I’m going to put it here because this one is more current. BFB got a shout-out from Dirty Tackle:


    And I’m also going to repost my response from that thread. Mods can delete if it seems redundant:

    “I actually object to the description of what Alves did as “diving”. Diving is when you simulate being fouled. Dani was genuinely and cynically fouled when the ref wasn’t looking. Smacking someone in the head is a red card offense no matter how you look at it. Give me one good reason why Dani should have let Ponzio get away with that. Did he exaggerate the contact? Probably, but then I haven’t had surgery on my ears, so I have no way of knowing how much that smack hurt. Did he make a meal of it? Definitely. To an embarrassing extent? Yes. But I can’t fault him for going down. If Ponzio was stupid enough to do something like that, he should pay for it, just like Villa had to pay for his moment of madness.”

  7. SoMa with the goodness!

    Note that is more reliable than not, by the by. Their opinion pieces are sometimes misguided, and their match reviews are often hilarious. But as a source of news, quotes and information, we shouldn’t confuse them with some of the more scurrilous BritRags (that’s English publications, as opposed to head rags that Britney Spears uses while working out).

    For the record.

    1. Sometimes. Sometimes not. Like most entities that have to work across many different languages.

  8. is good only if you read their news and interviews. They always warn you if its ‘reported’ or ‘confirmed’.
    As for their opinion pieces, match reviews and player ratings: they SUCK.

  9. Popped back in to prep for Pep’s piece when I noticed that, Geez, you all are a tough audience!
    I’ve already written my thesis, thanks, but at heart I’m a Wikireadin’, cut-n-paste kind of girl.
    Like Pinto’s tweet, it’s just for fun, y’all.
    But in the interests of the just journalism:
    Quote 1: Well, o.k. I could find video and of-record reporting on the press conference but no independent (besides other webrags) confirmation of MouMou musing over his future in Milan. Would Madrid report that, anyway? But I did find something amusing in the Italian press (see channel 7), in which Moratti sighs over MouMou’s departure as that of a man who cheats on his wife but still loves her and manages to escape through his paramour’s boudoir window or some such fun stuff.
    Quote 2: On novel risks and experiences: You can find this at and at on May 24 2010.
    Quote 3: The fun ‘you are dead to me’ ala Ike Brovslovsky is widely quoted, but I first read about it in El Pais ( on October 24, 2010. Note that today MouMou had to go back and reassure everyone that he was not going to murder any of his players if they lost a Copa match.
    Quote 4: The entertaining-vs.-winning remark is quoted all over England; a more reliable source might be the Telegraph ( on March 14, 2010 courtesy of Mr H Winter.
    Quote 5: Chelsea’s morality or lack thereof is quoted by the BBC Sport site on October 31 2005. A veritable library of Mouness, there.
    Quote 6: See El Mundo ( as reported from the EFE, on February 20, 2006.
    Quote 7: The Neto remarks are reported in the London Observer Sport Monthly, check Mr M Honigsbaum’s piece on August 1, 2004.
    Quote 8: As reported by BBC Sport, 2 November 2005.

    I should make clear that of course I took some of these quotes out of context for comic effect. Mou’s ugly scientist refers to the turf conditions at Stamford Bridge prior to the Barcelona game in 2006; his Mafia-like references to “hits” are a high point of the fiesty debates that went on between him, Ferguson and Wegner during the spicy Premiership season of 2005. But that’s so boring. Everyone knows that. Who cares about mowing the lawn?

    Meanwhile, I’ve made it pretty clear that while I may not be a fan of Mourinho, I absolutely relish his presence in La Liga. He is a Barroque foil to Guardiola’s monastic reserve, and there is no doubt that his Madrid is faster, stronger and meaner. So all you EE types out there, chill.

    Finally, Machiavelli has gotten a bad rap. Now ‘Machiavellian’ means you are mean. Not nice. But Nicky was just one of many writers who were producing these kind of ‘Prince-for-Dummies’ manuals, and the Medici were trying to rule Renaissance Florence, not some Berkely yoga studio. I’ll do something similar for our Pep next week.

    Go watch a football match.

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