Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho appears to have taken a thinly-veiled swipe at Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes.
It's no great secret that the Red Devils have benefitted from their star playmaker's efficiency from the penalty spot since he arrived at Old Trafford last January, with Fernandes - who earns £180k per week at Old Trafford - netting 15 from 16 attempts for United.
That makes penalties responsible for more than half of the Portugal international's 27 United goals, something which seems to have irked his compatriot in the Spurs dugout.
While discussing Heung-min Son's scoring record for Tottenham after a strike in the north London club's 3-0 Premier League win over Leeds United took the South Korean international to a century of Spurs goals, Mourinho said...
"To get the Puskas award, to be scoring 100 goals for Tottenham and to be maybe in the top three Premier League scorers without penalties. Some players score 10 goals a season on penalties and I'm not speaking about Harry Kane, by the way."
Perhaps on its own, the comment could be regarded as a general discussion of how some of the front-runners in the Premier League's Golden Boot race are dependent on penalties to keep their tallies competitive.
However, Mourinho has some prior form here. The former Old Trafford gaffer previously said of Fernandes: "Bruno came in, was fit, played very well, improved the United team and also proved to be a great penalty taker, one of the best in the world, because he had about 20 to score."
And The Special One recently took a dig at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after the United boss joked about Spurs complaining to UEFA officials regarding the size of the goalposts in Tottenham's Europa League clash with FK Shkendija.
Mourinho said: "I understand that for him the dimensions of the goalposts are not important for him. What is important for him are the dimensions of the 18-yard box. He would never accept to play with a 17-yard box. I think he would prefer a 22-yard box. For him it would be better."
GIVEMESPORT's Christy Malyan says...
Mourinho just can't help himself sometimes. Despite often being misjudged as grumpy or sour, he's got a reputation for witty remarks and scathing quips, something that was seen in small doses during Tottenham's All Or Nothing documentary. Perhaps this was just another cheeky comment that slipped out - if, indeed, it was aimed at Fernandes, which still isn't 100% clear.
Then again, the more cynical analysis would be an attempt at mind-games, something Mourinho is equally notorious for. Currently second and third respectively, United and Spurs are probably the most viable candidates to beat Liverpool to the Premier League title this season.
With that in mind, there's an obvious logic in trying to make United's penalty record a media narrative. Only Leicester have won more spot kicks than the Red Devils this season and Fernandes is obviously incredibly proficient at putting them away.
Shining a light on that has the potential to put more pressure on officials when judging United's penalty appeals, which in turn could dent their chances of finishing higher than Spurs.
In this instance, there hasn't been a huge reaction to what Mourinho's said, but don't be surprised if similar comments are made by him over the next few months ahead of United and Tottenham's Premier League clash in April - which could well be a season-defining encounter for both teams.News Now - Sport News