It is safe to say that Jose Mourinho may not be too welcome at Old Trafford at the moment.
First, the Chelsea manager made the outlandish – but highly intriguing – claim that he had ‘inside information’ that Manchester United were unhappy at the club’s league position.
Hardly the most insightful observation that Mourinho has ever made, but it nonetheless raised the question of just how much he does know about the current problems plaguing the Premier League champions, and from whom he received such information.
David Moyes has since received an apology from Chelsea’s media department, but the United boss may have been left feeling a little undermined by Mourinho’s statement, and more cynical observers would suggest that that was exactly what the Chelsea manager had wanted.
Mourinho was presented with another opportunity to plant the seeds of insecurity when questioned this week about the future of Wayne Rooney, the United striker whom Chelsea openly courted last summer and are expected to renew their interest in at the end of the season. Rather than give the standard vague, deflective answer, Mourinho threw a curve-ball.
“I think maybe this summer they will try to sell to a non-direct rival,” he said. “Man United made it clear in the summer they don’t swap or sell players to their direct rivals.
“They were clear in the way they approached the Rooney situation. For them, it’s pretty clear. They don’t swap domestically. They don’t sell domestically.”
Again, this could be perceived as a clever ploy by Mourinho. At the very least, it brings the question of Rooney’s future into even sharper focus. Other European clubs are sure to be following his progress, and will read Mourinho’s comments with interest.
Has Mourinho really given up on Rooney, or is this his way of attempting to unsettle the 28-year-old? Rooney is, after all, yet to begin talks over a contract extension.
Moyes was clearly piqued when he was asked similar questions: “I wouldn’t talk about other managers at other clubs and I wouldn’t talk about other players at other clubs,” he said, before adding pointedly, “But managers have their own style.”
Rooney will miss Chelsea’s clash against United tomorrow though injury, but the England striker’s future will still provide a talking-point. And it may well be Mourinho who continues to do most of the talking.
image: © nasmac