Towards the end of their acting careers and particularly in cameo roles, Peter Lorre and the theatrical knights Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud perfected the art of scene stealing, throwing in improvised lines designed to disconcert, flamboyantly drifting off their marks to hog the shot or generally "chewing the scenery". In football the master of limelight larceny, José Mourinho, needs no such tricks. Pitting the Portuguese and his team against the world is a familiar pre-match ploy and when vindication comes, he expresses his euphoria physically.

On Tuesday night, however, when celebrating Cristiano Ronaldo's late, dramatic winner against Manchester City with the knee-slide once-favoured by Billy Bremner and revived by Didier Drogba he seemed even more delirious. In the past at times there has been an element of calculation about it but this was spontaneous, probably tinged with relief after beginning the week by criticising some of his squad and changing the team.

This was more Mourinho contra mundum than any match preceding it, about his judgment and methods as much as his team's. His exceptional gift as a manager has been to make his words sound like war drums in players' ears and having gone out on a limb following his side's patchy start to the season Ronaldo's goal triggered a war cry from him that was part triumph, a natural reaction when a game's carefully laid rhythm explodes in the last 15 minutes and you ultimately emerge unscathed, and part defiance of the doubters.

He also trashed a decent suit, his grass-stained trousers looking like the evidence of guilt of a guest who got lucky at a garden party. His previous highlights did not offend his tailor though they did antagonise a wider audience. In 2004, when Porto went ahead late in the tie against Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16, he scampered up the Old Trafford touchline, hopping, skipping and jumping with his arms spread into a Y-shape.

At Internazionale in October 2009, Mourinho celebrated Wesley Sneijder's injury-minute winner against Udinese with his tongue out and rolling his fists as if he were preceding the funky chicken move in The Hustle. Even the club's president, Massimo Moratti, said: "It was a bit strange but the important thing is that we won." When Inter prevailed over the defending champions, Barcelona, in the European Cup semi-final the same season, he shot off across the Camp Nou pitch, one arm outstretched with his index finger pointing to the sky à la Denis Law and with a look of justification on his face that brought to mind Brian Glover's smirk in Kes when Mr Sugden converts his respotted penalty. Mourinho even ended his spree with Barça's keeper, Víctor Valdés, in his face. He breaches the manager's accepted etiquette repeatedly, but that very lack of decorum is an essential part of the bond he makes between himself and his clubs' fans.

"After playing football, there's nothing like it again," said Kevin Keegan last year. "Management is a pale attempt to hang on to the excitement." Yet Mourinho did not enjoy a stellar career, something he has in common with almost all of us. For him management is the excitement and the manner in which it captivates him would be the same for the broad majority who only watch him.

Other managers' repertoires are more limited. Even in 1993 when Manchester United were wobbling against Sheffield Wednesday on their way to winning their first title since 1967, it was Brian Kidd who provided a more memorable image than his boss. The assistant encroached on to the pitch, flung himself in the air and dropped to his knees when Steve Bruce scored the decisive goal that was so late it was almost posthumous. Sir Alex Ferguson at that moment was enraptured but did not cross the line. Now he confines himself to the arms aloft shuffle characterised as a "dad dance", but I prefer to see that as a homage to Michael Douglas's seduction scene in the disco in Basic Instinct, albeit with less garish knitwear.

Bob Stokoe was the first manager I saw getting carried away by the emotion of victory when he ran across Wembley in his trilby, gabardine and tracksuit when Sunderland beat Leeds in the 1973 FA Cup final. It took a decade for anyone to seem so similarly intoxicated by the moment that their inhibitions were cast aside as if transported by rapture. Manchester City supporters again had to look on at a blithe spirit in 1983 when David Pleat did his audition for Watership Down at Maine Road while wearing Richie Benaud's cast-off clobber to greet Luton Town's survival at City's expense.

It is galling when you are on the receiving end but better an engaged manager by far than one of the growing band of scribblers who, like earnest gallery visitors, spend more time taking notes than looking at what they are there to see. It should not take Mourinho to show them how to enjoy themselves.