Mourinho: Walcott is s*** but I can make him great
Extracts from the Robert Beasley book ‘Jose Mourinho: Up close and personal’ (released on 29th September) have been serialised by the Daily Mail. Yesterday they led with the headline ‘Jose Mourinho simply can’t hide his hatred for Arsène Wenger: ‘I will find him one day outside a football pitch and I will break his face.’
This “revelation” was anything but a surprise. It is no secret that Mourinho has an intense dislike for Wenger; I dare say the feeling is mutual and stretches back to 2005. Barbs have been exchanged as they are in all great managerial rivalries but never before have I seen someone as vitriolic and downright disrespectful as Mourinho has been to Wenger. For all his great qualities as a winning coach he’s a rather petty individual.
I’ve speculated before that Mourinho is jealous of Wenger and I stand by that. His success has not given him the equanimity to ignore thin criticism such as Wenger’s, instead it mortally offends Jose and he strikes back with venomous opprobrium. The trust Wenger has received – celebrating two decades at one club despite difficult periods – is something that Mourinho craves but is unable to achieve. It is clear in his poorly disguised comments that he resents not being allowed to fail – perhaps because he cannot contextualise loss and is outraged that his position is constantly in question.
His great failing is also his greatest strength – his managerial style. When it works, it works with oomph. When it fails, it fails miserably because it’s so ruthless and unfeeling. Regardless of whether Wenger fails or succeeds he earns the respect of the people he works with and, rightly or wrongly, he earns loyalty rather than demands it. It is this more than anything else I think fuels Mourinho’s loathing of Wenger.
This is further evinced in how Jose attempted to scupper the deal for Cech but was ultimately overruled by Roman Abramovich. Mourinho wasn’t willing to return the loyalty and service of Petr Cech with a move to a club who would play him in a city his family were settled in. In that moment Jose showed the worst of his managerial style – personal vendetta took priority over the stability of the young family of a friend. Abramovich, all credit to him, was more magnanimous. Would he have preferred Cech sign overseas rather than for a rival? Of course, but looked at Petr as a human rather than a commodity they could sell anywhere or choose to devalue.
I believe this pettiness was the beginning of the end of his second spell at Chelsea. Perhaps he had squeezed everything he possibly could out of the team the season before or maybe they were tired of being treated poorly and his handling of Cech underlined that for them so stopped busting a gut for a manager who they felt didn’t care about them.
Jose was thwarted in his petty revenge plot but not before he tried to unsettle, a couple of Arsenal players in retaliation. According to Robert, Jose said in an email: ‘Mister Wenger wants Cech and he thinks about money…he is wrong!!! What I want is to f*** him…Want Cech? OK, I want (Theo) Walcott or (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain!!! Want a top goalkeeper? OK, I want a young player, s*** with you but I can make him top.’
He believed he could make Walcott or Ox top-class players and clearly thought they were shit under Wenger. The sheer hubris of the man. He is a winner, that is not in doubt, but a nurturer? No. When has Mourinho ever cared for and cultured talent from potential? His strength is not in nurturing talent but exploiting it until he is ready to cast it aside or he moves on. Few players follow Mourinho from club to club and I think that speaks volumes.
That he wanted Theo or Alex speaks volumes too. Mourinho is not one to buy players on potential, instead preferring the finished article, so I think he saw something in those players that he could use. They are undeniably good players on their day and perhaps the problem with their Arsenal careers so far is that their day has come far too sporadically. We are seeing a different side to both players this season though and that is good for Arsenal. Theo looks determined to add some steel and effort to his game; Ox has finally started to revert to basics and his performances have been lifted as a result.
Jose rating those players enough to think he could do more with them than Wenger was a far more interesting revelation than Mourinho despicably claiming he wants to smash Wenger’s face in. This book will likely drop a few more bombshells of how Mourinho feels about Wenger and with it due out next week there will be plenty of time for it all to come out before Arsenal head to Old Trafford on 19th November a fortnight later than Bonfire Night but perhaps that would have been too poetic.
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