After years and years of using mental tactics to get under the skin of managers in the Primeira Liga, Barclays Premier League, Serie A and La Liga, it had finally appeared for much of current season that Jose Mourinho was going to let the Chelsea players do the talking. Although The Blues have sat at or near the summit of the Premier League for most of the year, it appears Mourinho can’t fight the urge to go after opposing managers mentally as he is again using the bully pulpit to try and best top four opponents Arsenal and Manchester City.
The first instance of going after his peers came against Manuel Pellegrini of Manchester City after Mourinho claimed his counterparts were “the little horse in the (Barclays Premier League) title race.” These comments have sparked a war of words over the last week and brought up tension that never subsided from comments that Mourinho made when he followed a sacked Pellegrini at Real Madrid back in 2010. The fact that City and Chelsea are about to square off in a quarterfinal FA Cup clash is no surprise.
As if playing around with Pellegrini was not enough, Mourinho has gone after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for what seems like the millionth different time. The two went after each other repeatedly during Mourinho’s previous stint with Chelsea from 2004-07, and in December he said this about his counterpart: “Boring Chelsea? I agree. I played against them 10 times and I never lost, it’s boring. Funny, funny Jose? 10 times they don’t win once.”
As if this wasn’t enough, just this week Mourinho added this about Wenger: “He’s a specialist in failure. I am not. The reality is he’s a specialist because eight years without a piece of silverware, that is failure.”
Of course these comments that direct at Wenger do have some truth in them as Arsenal have not picked up a trophy since 2004. Additionally, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are separated at the top of the Barclays Premier League table by a grand total of three points and all of them are still competing in the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup. There is little doubting that Mourinho is simply attempting to get the best out of his squad. But is attacking other managers really going to do that? And is it going to look like anything other than petty attacks in the meantime?
The answer to the first question is that it won’t help the Chelsea squad improve on the field, and it does look like a childish move on his part. Additionally, this move backfired when repeatedly attacking former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola when the two went against each other for two years in La Liga as Mourinho only won two trophies in two years and compiled a head-to-head record of 3-4-4 that even he would admit was disappointing.
While the nature of the two teams’ relationship was a bit different than the current Barclays Premier League trio, the fact of the matter is that getting involved in bickering matches only ups the ante on the players of Chelsea. The fact that Mourinho recently admitted “everything I say or do is mind games” only exacerbates the point that no one is listening or even cares about what he says besides fans and the press because it is all just white noise.
So instead of letting Mourinho spew out nonsense, football fans around the world should call on the self anointed “Special One” to focus on tactics and team selection, better known as things that actually affect the on-field performance and actually win trophies.