There are thinly veiled attacks, then there’s this.
During his first press conference as Manchester United manager on Tuesday, Jose Mourinho was asked if he felt like he had something to prove following his firing at Chelsea last season.
[ MORE: Full transcript from Mourinho ]
Mourinho, 53, has delivered two UEFA Champions League titles, league trophies in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, plus he’s now been given a three-year deal to lead Manchester United back to glory.
The Portuguese coach came out all guns blazing and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the opening line of his response was directed at one manager in particular: his old pal Arsene Wenger.
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Take a read of this.
“There are some managers, the last time they won a title was 10 years ago. Some of them, the last time they won the title was never,” Mourinho said. “The last time I won the title was one year ago. It wasn’t 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It was one year ago. If I have a lot to prove, imagine the others. The reality is that it was never important for me. I play against myself, that is my feeling many, many times. I feel like I have to prove not to the others, I have to prove to myself. That is my nature. I would never be able to work without success. That’s my nature.
“I have to always find the reasons why I have questions towards myself and the people working with me. It is my nature. That is why I could approach this job in a defensive point of view saying ‘yes the last three years the best we did was fourth, the best we did was an FA Cup’ and I could go into that side. I can’t go. It is my nature. We used to say in big clubs, and I’ve worked in some big clubs before, obviously Man United by the social point of view is a completely different dimension. The reality is that when people have year after year a certain type of menu, the menu has to change for better, not for worse.”
I believe the term “burn” is appropriate here.
Of course, Mourinho has won three Premier League titles with Chelsea across two different spells but after delivering the PL title during the 2014-15 season, he left Chelsea languishing in the bottom half midway through the 2015-16 campaign.
In the past he has pointed towards Arsenal’s long-time manager Wenger as someone who is a “specialist in failure” as the Gunners have now gone 10 years without winning a PL title under Wenger.
When Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium during the 2014-15 campaign, Arsenal’s fans sung “boring, boring Chelsea” to which Mourinho replied after: “Nine years without a title is boring.”
Over the past few years, Arsenal against Mourinho’s Chelsea was a bitter battle on the sidelines and on the pitch. Arsenal have had multiple players sent off with added suspensions for the likes of Diego Costa during their last two trips to Chelsea, plus Wenger and Mourinho clashed on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge during Chelsea’s title-winning campaign.
I think we can say with some confidence that the spark in the Manchester United vs. Arsenal rivalry will return for next season.
Mourinho vs. Wenger will return on Nov. 19 at Old Trafford live on NBC Sports.