Published 23/09/2015 at 11:53 GMT | Updated 23/09/2015 at 12:00 GMT
When he surveys the glory of his career in comfortable retirement, smiling fondly as he recalls the countless trophies he won and the records he set, will Jose Mourinho spare a thought for Eva Carneiro?
Will he recall with a pang of regret the time he lashed out and crushed his team doctor, one of the very few women to attain a position of real prominence in her field in the overwhelmingly male world of football? Or will his treatment of her be a footnote in his story to be glossed over?
The human detritus strewn across the path of Mourinho's career is piling up. Rafa Benitez, Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger are among those who have been antagonised and brutalised by a coach who so revels in conflict. But they were opponents asking to be smashed. Waging campaigns on those who would thwart his ambition is justifiable in Mourinho's Total War.
On Tuesday a rather different picture was painted as it emerged that Carneiro is to leave Chelsea as the repercussions of her actions on the opening weekend against Swansea are played out to their bitter conclusion. Actions which, it is widely accepted, were entirely in line with her responsibilities to the team and to the players whose health it was her job to protect.
Carneiro is said to be taking legal action for constructive dismissal and it would be unwise to assume knowledge of the process or the specifics of what has occurred away from plain sight. But the bare facts of the case are enough to condemn Mourinho's awful behaviour in a controversy which even in his career ranks as the most damaging to his reputation.
Chelsea physio Eva Carneiro (PA Sport)
Image credit: Eurosport
His verbal attack on Carneiro was sustained. He appeared to hurl abuse at her and physio Jon Fearn as they made their way onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard – video evidence suggesting he called one of both of them “son of a b***h” - and then traduced the pair of them in a post-match interview despite Carneiro clearly following General Medical Council guidelines to prioritise patient care.
She did her job perfectly well and Mourinho threw her under the bus for it. If this had been an unhinged reaction, a heat-of-the-moment eruption, then Mourinho could have said sorry and moved on rather sheepishly. But there has been no apology, at least in public, so the only conclusion can be that it was rather more calculated than that.
Of all the controversies to envelop Mourinho, this is the most serious. It shows him in his worst light.
Poking Tito Vilanova in the eye during a clasico is Mourinho's most infamous Machiavellian moment; a gratuitous and invasive act of violence. But aside from a sore eyeball for Guardiola's number two, the damage done was minimal.
Jose Mourinho pokes Tito Vilanova in the eye (Gol TV screengrab)
Image credit: Eurosport
The same could not be said for Anders Frisk. The Swedish referee retired from football after he was targeted with death threats having been accused by Mourinho of chatting with Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard at half-time of a Champions League match in 2005. Mourinho was branded "the enemy of football" by a UEFA official as a 16-year refereeing career was destroyed, Frisk's professional life left in tatters.
It might be too much to resurrect the tag now, but "enemy of the medical profession" would perhaps fit after Mourinho's outburst contributed to Carneiro losing her dream job. Her career has been thrown into jeopardy and she has had to stomach seeing a past relationship plastered on the front page of The Sun in the form of an execrable kiss and tell. What precisely did she do to deserve this, other than carry out her duties in the manner expected of a doctor?
Mourinho's behaviour is loaded with significance here. Bringing down Carneiro – with the club reportedly banning her from attending training sessions or matches, as well as entering the team hotel – has a wider significance which makes this the biggest misstep of his career.
As a statement from Women in Football put it: "We believe it is appalling that her professionalism and understanding of football were subsequently called into question by manager Jose Mourinho and it threatened to undermine her professional reputation. She is extremely highly regarded within the medical profession and the football industry.
"We also believe that Dr Carneiro's treatment and ultimate departure from Chelsea FC sends out a worrying and alienating message to the already small numbers of female medical staff working in the national game. WiF hope that by working with football authorities and clubs we can bring about a greater understanding of the barriers that women in the industry routinely face."
A Football Association investigation is under way and any legal action taken by Carneiro following her removal from frontline duties and subsequent departure from the club will ensure the chain of events is carefully reconstructed and analysed. It will be hard to defend Mourinho's contribution based on what has played out publicly.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has overseen the latest sale of broadcast rights
Image credit: PA Sport
As a spin doctor might put it, the optics aren't good on this one – for Mourinho, Chelsea or the Premier League.
There is something important at stake here. What does it say about English football if one of the sport's few high-profile women can be treated in this dismal fashion and so easily disposed of for simply doing her job?
FA board member Heather Rabbatts made her views clear in an impassioned statement on Tuesday night: “I believe that all those who have an interest in these issues and who have a duty to safeguard relevant policies and procedures raise their voice in support of Eva and question how she has been treated. I hope that Eva’s own situation can be resolved quickly and positively, that she will be able to continue to work in a senior position within the game and that steps are taken to ensure that professional integrity is protected and women are properly encouraged to be a part of our national game, including at elite level.”
When George Galloway won the Bethnal Green & Bow seat from Labour MP Oona King in the 2005 general election, his elation was memorably punctured by Jeremy Paxman who greeted him for a live interview with the extraordinary opening gambit: “Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?”
It is tempting to ask Mourinho if, in pursuing his own power agenda, he is proud to have got rid of one of the very few women in elite football. Does he care? Will his own conscience prick him when tales of cups and victories get weary in his old age? Wenger, Benitez and Guardiola have all been roundly mocked by the Chelsea manager for years. But how many women have they treated in such a manner? How many careers have their careless words derailed?