Having labeled himself “The Happy One” upon his return to the Premier League, Jose Mourinho spent the first six months of his second tenure at Stamford Bridge in uncharacteristic docile fashion, as he cut a calm and relaxed figure on the touchline.
With the season approaching its business end, however, the Portuguese has shed the clothes of the affable, easygoing manager he had been wearing since August and has returned to his old, belligerent, self.
Mind games, frustration, fear of failure. Whatever prompt Jose’s latest outburst has also brought back the Mou of old, a man who is happy to take on his rivals off the pitch as much as he is determined to outmanoeuvre on the pitch.
Arsene Wenger and Mourinho exchanged heated words over the weekend, but the Frenchman is not the only manager to have had to bear the brunt of Mourinho’s tongue, as the list below illustrates.
1) Pep Guardiola
“I would have been embarrassed to win that title (the Champions League in 2009) because it was won with the scandal of Stamford Bridge and this one will be won with the scandal of the Bernabeu. I hope one day Josep Guardiola wins a Champions League title as it should be – perfect, spotless, without any scandal,” barked Mourinho after having been sent off against Barcelona.
“I don’t know if it’s to give publicity to Unicef or their power at UEFA. I don’t know if people just like them. I don’t know and I don’t understand. Where does all this power come from? No-one else has a chance really. Why don’t they let other teams play against them? If Barcelona are honest, they know this is happening.”
The “translator”, as Mourinho was known during Guardiola’s playing days when the Portuguese was part of the late Sir Bobby Robson’s staff at the Camp Nou, didn’t win many friends upon his return to Catalonia with Inter in 2010 for the Champions League semifinal.
Mourinho’s men survived a second leg played with 10 men for over an hour, before the Portuguese burst on the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate in typically understated fashion, finger pointing towards the sky, wheeling away in celebration.
When Mourinho took over at Real Madrid, he added a new dimension to an already fervent rivalry, his and his side uncompromising approach by many seen as as the anthesis of Barca’s stylish football under Pep Guardiola.
Mou often turned things personal in his personal tussle with Guardiola, who famously lost his cool during a press conference claiming that “In the press room, he [Mourinho] is the f*****g boss.”
2) Arsene Wenger
Having been called a “voyeur” by Mourinho in 2005, Wenger claimed the Chelsea boss was “afraid of failure”, which sparked a rather contrite reply by the Portuguese.
If he is right and I have a fear of failure it is because I don’t fail many times. So maybe he is right?
“The reality is he’s a specialist because eight years without a piece of silverware, that is failure. If I did that in Chelsea I would leave London and not come back,” boomed Mourinho on Saturday.
With Arsenal and Chelsea both involved in a title race likely to go down to the wire, it’s safe to say that his particular rift is yet to see its final chapter and whoever will deliver the next psychological blow could well go a long way in securing his side a trophy this season.
3) Manuel Pellegrini
After accusing West Ham of parking the bus at Stamford Bridge to secure a 0-0 draw, Mourinho continued with the motoring analogy by claiming that Manchester City were like “a Jaguar with L-plates”.
Mou’s not so subtle dig was aimed at Manuel Pellegrini who, in the Chelsea manager’s mind, isn’t exactly the right man to oversee a star studded squad such as City’s, as Mourinho seemed to insinuate the Chilean is still finding his feet at the Etihad.
The feud between the two, however, has a longer history, given the pair clashed when Mourinho replaced Pellegrini at the Bernabeu, with the Chilean manager taking charge of Malaga.
“If Madrid were to fire me, I wouldn’t go to Malaga. I’d go to a top-level team in Italy or England,” said Mou, after Pellegrini had steered Real Madrid to a second place finish behind the all-conquering Barcelona or, has the Special One put it, Real Madrid were “the first of the losers”.