Jose Mourinho has never been shy about stirring the pot. It would have been strange if the Portuguese had returned to England not as the Happy One, but as the Low-Key One.

Any such fears have been eradicated by his markedly public pursuit of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney.

From declaring his admiration for the forward to explicitly warning him that he needs to play first-team football.

Mourinho's public voicing of his views on the 27-year-old is a challenge to the Premier League champions disguised by innocent rhetoric.

In short, Mourinho is up to his old tricks. The only difference here is that he more than anyone is aware that Sir Alex Ferguson would not have countenanced these tricks.

The last time the former Everton forward was widely known to be unhappy at Old Trafford, back in 2010, he submitted an official transfer request.

Ferguson fended off interest from rivals Manchester City with a masterful press conference declaring his hurt at Rooney's actions. 

The forward signed a new contract; no third party was involved as the duo settled their differences.

Moyes is a stern and uncompromising figure unafraid of standing his ground. But he is feeling his way into a job that his apprenticeship at Everton could only ever partially prepare him for. 

Mourinho is cannily seizing upon this.

The footballing world is now fully aware that Chelsea have submitted a bid for Rooney. 

The silence from Moyes and the player himself is all the more significant when contrasted with Mourinho's brief but significant commentary at press conferences.

Ferguson would have nipped this in the bud either way. Either he would have publicly lambasted his colleague, or forced Rooney to state his position.

Instead, the silence is deafening. Moyes appears understandably reticent to wade into a political minefield, while Rooney is understood to be remaining passive so as not to waive bonuses and payments from United - bonuses which a transfer request would negate.

But simply by offering a comment here, a warning there, Mourinho is playing what could become the defining transfer saga of the summer on his terms.

Stating that Rooney is his only transfer target of the summer is a masterstroke. 

A player indisputably short on confidence will feel loved and appreciated, and therefore attracted to the ostensibly magnetic charms of Mourinho.

In a situation with no obvious signs of resolution, Mourinho is on the front foot. 

He no longer has to comply with the monopolistic rule of his great friend and rival Ferguson. And a good job too.


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