Thursday 23 February 2017

Jose Mourinho out to settle old scores with 'Mother Teresas of football'

Sam Wallace

'At least this time, Mourinho is not pretending to be the calmer, more rounded individual he claimed to be when he arrived back at Chelsea three years ago.' Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty
'At least this time, Mourinho is not pretending to be the calmer, more rounded individual he claimed to be when he arrived back at Chelsea three years ago.' Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty

When he comes under attack, or even just finds himself mildly slighted, Jose Mourinho cannot help but return fire.

And so it was at the start of his third spell in English football, installed at Old Trafford, when he took aim at Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich.

This was not Mourinho at his most vicious, although there is still time for that, rather it was him effecting his usual despair at all the hypocrisy he perceives in the world around him.

There was Wenger and Klopp poking fun at Paul Pogba's £100m transfer fee which he could not allow to pass without comment, and then a bit of fun at the expense of an unnamed club that likes to think of itself as the "Mother Teresa of football".

That was unmistakably Bayern Munich whose president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge took Mourinho to task this week for his treatment of Bastian Schweinsteiger, banished from the senior dressing room and out of the plans for next season.

Question

Rummenigge said it was not the kind of thing that would ever happen at Bayern Munich so Mourinho used a question about tomorrow's opponents, Leicester City, to talk about some of the things that did happen at Bayern.

"You have around Europe people who, when you listen to them, it looks like they are the Mother Teresa of football but they aren't.

"You go to many countries and clearly they are happy the way they are. It is not just about them being powerful. It is also to go to the clubs that can be direct competition and every season to steal their best players. So they don't want a league.

"This is the only country where everyone wants this (the Leicester phenomenon) to happen. This is the only country where the football structures allow this to happen.

"In the other countries the powerful clubs don't want this to happen. In the other countries they do not want to have to share the money.

"They don't want to share TV rights. In the other countries they want to be comfortable and know they will always be the top dogs in the Champions League."

Mourinho's notion that the Premier League is the one true competition in European football is deployed against his major rivals outside England when he faces them in the Champions League or, as it is this season with United, the Europa League.

As for Klopp and Wenger, they broke the rule that no manager should comment on the transfer business of Mourinho's clubs, especially if they happen to be spending large amounts of money.

In this case it was the issue of Pogba's impending £100m transfer and Wenger's remark that it was "completely crazy".

For his part Klopp said, not entirely seriously, that if such fees became the norm in football then he could no longer see himself working in the game.

"I heard already two of my colleagues from other clubs speaking about us," Mourinho said.

"I do not like that. It is not ethical. There are things that - when I do them - are not ethical and when others do them, everything is normal. Nobody says anything.

"I do not speak about the others. They can do what they want."

At least this time, Mourinho is not pretending to be the calmer, more rounded individual he claimed to be when he arrived back at Chelsea three years ago.

Ahead of the Community Shield at Wembley - his first game of any significance as United manager - and one week away from the start of the Premier League season, he is settling scores as quickly as possible.

Whether his team are ready for the new season is another matter, after a pre-season hustle around China which included what Mourinho described pointedly as "a week of no work" around the cancelled Beijing friendly against Manchester City.

He was eager to talk up the condition of his players but it is evident from many of his remarks that the preparation has been far from ideal.

They were he said by no means at their peak but had few injuries and had reached what he said was a "good level".

No one knows better than Mourinho the value of a strong start.

© Daily Telegraph, London.

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