"Another book?" was Jose Mourinho's immediate response when it was put to him that Luis Suarez had, in his recent autobiography, cast doubt over whether even the Chelsea players believed in their manager.
It has become a common theme for Mourinho this season. In Jorge Valdano's recent autobiography, the former Real Madrid general manager said that the Chelsea manager was the "triumph of ego over intelligence". In his book, Roy Keane wrote "I'm not sure I would have liked playing for Mourinho. And if you really want to annoy Mourinho, simply mention the El Pais journalist Diego Torres' book on his time at Real Madrid.
Either way, this time, Mourinho was unwilling to let it go. The story recalled by Suarez was an unusual one, claiming that during Chelsea's 2-0 win at Anfield in April, one of Mourinho's players had sympathised with Liverpool's frustration at what they saw as time-wasting tactics. The Chelsea player himself was never named.
Suarez wrote: "I even asked one of their players. 'What do you want me to do? If he [Mourinho] makes us play like this, I have to play like this,' he replied. 'If I don't, I won't play. What would you do?'"
By way of response yesterday, Mourinho went off on an earnest monologue about an offer he had received from a publisher to compile a book of pictures about his career - "a memory book", as he called it after consultation on the right description with his press officer. "But not," he said, "a book to talk shit and to criticise people and to say negative things about people who belong in my career."
Curiously, Mourinho placed his hand over his mouth when uttering the key word, as if that might reduce its effect on the following morning's back-pages. It came at the end of a press conference during which Mourinho had otherwise talked with emotional detachment about that game on April 27 when Chelsea came to Anfield and broke a lot of Liverpudlian hearts.
"It gave the title to Man City, as simple as that," he said of the 2-0 win that day for Chelsea which ended Liverpool's 11-game winning streak. "Liverpool, with a point in that match, would have been champions. Without it, they lost the title. It meant nothing to us."
The defining game of last season, it was so memorable that Steven Gerrard's first-half slip to let Demba Ba in on goal is still sung about around the Premier League to this day, even in games in which Gerrard is not playing. For Liverpool, it was a match that will remain lodged in the psyche for as long as they wait for a 19th title. For Chelsea, however, it signifies something different.
Mourinho has still not forgiven the Premier League or Liverpool for not moving the game forward a day to give his team more time to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid the following Wednesday. As he prepared to take his side back to Anfield today at full strength, with Diego Costa starting the game - even though he has been left out by Spain - he was still chewing on that decision.
"When people make the decision to make us play Sunday, when you have the Champions League semi-final second leg three days later, it's because they don't want you to compete and they want you to go to lose. Liverpool did what they had to do: try to have the easiest possible game to be champions.
"They needed one point to be champions. We did what we had to do there: don't participate in the situation some people wanted us to participate in. We would do the same if the situation was the opposite: if Chelsea had to play City rather than Liverpool, with two matches to go. We did what we had to do. I don't think the people who made the decision did a good, professional job."
It is all part of Mourinho's "clowns" theory, previously espoused, that Chelsea were expected to go to Anfield and roll over. Mourinho said that he expected all six of those Liverpool outfield players on the substitutes' bench at the Bernabeu to play today. He also warned Rodgers that if he loses, he can forget about the title.
"Liverpool know that, if they lose, they are 15 points behind. Obviously it's not over but it's difficult. If they win, nine points behind is different to 15. It's a very good motivation for them. So I expect them to try to win." (© Independent News Service).