Sometimes football pundits use words like spirited and headstrong for players who are more accurately described as batshit insane. Manchester United target Pepe isn’t one of these, because anyone who has ever seen him take to the field already knows he plays with the crazed intensity of a bull chasing down a drunken thrillseeker on the streets of Pamplona.
The Real Madrid centre-back’s sketchy reputation isn’t exactly undeserved. Pepe hit the headlines in 2009 when he deliberately kicked a fallen opponent. Twice. In full view of the referee.
A few years later, he saw red for Portugal in their World Cup opener against Germany, after headbutting Thomas Muller, because why not?
A player like Pepe isn’t usually at the top of your shopping list when you’re trying to steady a ship that’s sailing through a never-ending post-Fergie storm.
For starters, United are desperately short on leadership following the departure of elder statesmen like Giggs, Scholes and Ferdinand. After taking on the captain’s armband, Rooney has tried his best to fill the void, but the England striker has long lost his tenacious streak, and lacks the assertiveness to rile up his support cast.
And then there’s the fact that they don’t really have a genuine bastard among their ranks. Sure, you wouldn’t want to find yourself alone in a dark alley with Ibrahimovic, but he has that soothing Swedish voice and a winning smile. Pepe is a man you just can’t help but hate – and history tells us that’s an important part of any title-winning team (just ask Roy Keane).
Mourinho is no stranger to touchline shenanigans but there is nobody at United really capable of embodying his passion and desire on the field. Pepe, who has already worked with Jose during their time at Real, would be the perfect man to transmit his coach’s mentality onto the players.
Put Pepe at the heart of United’s backline and visiting strikers at Old Trafford will learn the meaning of the phrase Theatre of Screams.