Friday 14th February 2014, the then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho sparked off what had always been a spat against his Premier League rival, Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger. The Portuguese referred to the Frenchman as a specialist in failure or so he insinuated, though all was in a response to the latter’s earlier attack against his counterpart. This was in Mourinho’s second stint as Chelsea manager.
It is also on record that nine years earlier, in October 2005, Jose Mourinho had launched a stinging attack on Arsène Wenger, calling the Arsenal manager “a voyeur” and mocking his Premiership rival’s then poor start to the season by saying the Frenchman should speak less about Chelsea and concentrate on improving his own team’s results.
This again was in response to Wenger’s sentiments when he questioned about Chelsea’s draw at Everton and Carling Cup defeat at home to Charlton.
My intention isn’t to create a one sided argument, favouring the more than the two decade North Londoners’ boss. In fact he (Mourinho) might have had much justification to forge his argument, though as unfair as it might have seemed at the time.
Fast forward to 2016 and Mourinho is no longer at Chelsea after being sacked over poor results, after the club had won its 10th English Premier League crown.
The 53-year-old was shown the door seven months after his title in his second tenure which started in June 2013.
Chelsea had finished eight points clear the previous season and had won the League Cup, but before the sack had lost nine of their 16 league games so far and were in an unfamiliar 16th position in the table, one point above the relegation places.
In the other city of Manchester, Manchester United having a record 20 league titles on their name were struggling in the hands of Dutch Louis van Gaal, who had taken over from the David Moyes era.
The club in a bid to improve on their results, after serious deliberation landed on the far travelled tactician as the best to steer them back to glory and the UEFA champions League which had proved elusive in the after Sir Alex Ferguson period.
The award winning manager took over with much pomp and colour, though there were mixed reactions in the football cycles. Not that the same has faded away as such, but there lies a few doubts amongst the doubters, with Mourinho’s latest sentiments aiding that doubting course.
And it is here that I conclude by wondering if the Portuguese has anything in the football world to learn from his 67 year old counterpart.
I say yes, and a big one especially on one particular point –dressing room management.
Wenger has not done so well in managing the Emirates dressing room over the years he has been in charge, but I would comfortably say he has outdone his football enemy thousand times, at least on this one.
From the doctor Eva Carneiro disagreement, to the Real Madrid dressing room split and disagreements with captain Iker Casillas (now at FC Porto), defender Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, to the so called Chelsea players’ sabotage towards the end of his second stint at Stamford bridge etc. At least these are not all, but just those in the public domain.
I think all this emanates from Mourinho’s trade of bowing to pressure, especially when his teams are not performing well and according to expectation. And that is not far from the current situation at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils in seventh in the Premier league standing, having just won once in their last four matches in all competitions.
With his pre-match comment ahead of the Manchester derby in the League Cup, that living in Manchester is a ‘disaster’, especially after a 4-0 thrashing in the hands of his old club, now managed by Italian Antonio Conte, as small as it might seem, I can bet than more of such comments are in the offing, and they will do Man U more harm than gain.
Mourinho must learn to take good care of his dressing room, or his managerial adventure will go on and on, maybe after Manchester United he will head to the east.