Jose Mourinho’s return has so far been very underwhelming. In his first press conference he was inevitably asked for a new soundbite; something that would match the arrogance of ‘The Special One’. Instead, the world’s media got, ‘The Happy One’.
Mourinho must have known that this would be pathetic. His face was rigidly blank when spewing this flavourless hack-feed. In this new reality where Jose disappoints football journalists, he strove to be candid and mature in a press conference that failed miserably to live up to expectations. Candid and mature? Jose?
What is going on? Are people finding it difficult to swallow this new, more orthodox manager? Is this the same man who poked Tito Vilanova in the eye?
Is the new Chelsea FC manager the same figure who courted controversy so consistently at Real Madrid?
In a recent interview he almost exclusively said the right things, sticking to that same clichéd mantra that sings phrases such as ‘Take one game at a time.’
Perhaps he took it to a new level when asserting that Chelsea’s Europa League victory against Benfica last May was of no importance. ‘I don’t want to win the Europa League,’ he said, "It would be a big disappointment for me. I don’t want my players to think the Europa League is our competition."
Of course, he is right. For the reigning Champions League winner to fail to get out of the group stages is poor. Consequently, the Europa League trophy can be but a consolation.
But the correctness did not stop there. Mourinho said young squads need stability and that he was there to provide it. "This is a squad that needs a manager for a long time," he said.
We’ll believe it when we see it Roman!
Nevertheless, this is music to the Chelsea fan’s ears; who have had more managerial instability than most since Abramovich took over.
When asked about Torres, Mourinho was suitably philosophical: "Good players in big clubs, they are always under this pressure."
This could not have been more even-handed. And note how careful Mourinho was to avoid criticising Torres.
Yet amidst all the talk of medians and stability there was a Jose-gem, and it is all about Manchester United.
Firstly, Mourinho said that he was disappointed that Sir Alex Ferguson would no longer oppose him in the dugouts. Moyes not good enough for you Jose?
Jibe number one completed.
Then we have the Rooney situation which Mourinho gleefully waded into. We now know that Chelsea made a bid for Rooney that was refused. We also know that Rooney is apparently Chelsea’s only summer transfer target. Yet before the former news was leaked, Mourinho spoke to the BBC, saying:
"I think only David [Moyes] and Roy Hodgson... they are in conditions to speak about Wayne. David is not speaking about what Mata would do in Man Utd, or what Hazard could add to the Man Utd squad. I think I have to be attic [sic] and correct and respectful of the situation.
"I think he is a problem for David to resolve and I think if somebody is a bit worried with it, it’s Roy Hodgson. You know, World Cup season, if Wayne is second choice for Man Utd the national team will be affected, but it is something with them, nothing with me."
There was a familiar glint in Mourinho’s eyes when he spoke that last sentence. The Rooney situation certainly is a ‘problem’ for Moyes to solve, but Jose is clearly not beyond trying to bring that problem to Chelsea and aid Moyes in a back-handed fashion.
And when Mourinho says he is being correct and respectful, he is most probably behaving oppositely.
Bringing up the potential national team issue is also interesting. It is probably true that Rooney not playing regularly will affect the England team come Brazil 2014.
But is it a message to Rooney? ‘Come be first choice for Chelsea and consequently England?’
Or is he cajoling Roy Hodgson to put pressure on Moyes? Either or both ways, Mourinho is destabilising Moyes before a kick has been made in anger. Jibe number two completed.
Moyes’ ascension to arguably the biggest job in football management has been blighted by the Rooney situation. How he would love to settle the issue, preferably with Wayne smiling and playing for Manchester United.
How Mourinho would love either for Wayne to join Chelsea or Wayne to ruin Moyes.
It seems either way, Mourinho and Chelsea benefits. As ever, Jose will seek to win the competition before it even begins.
Don’t worry everyone – it is him after all.
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