‘Ranieri old, Wenger a failure’ – Mourinho mockery coming back to haunt him

The Chelsea boss has made fun of the Leicester and Arsenal managers, plus Manuel Pellegrini, but they are challenging for the title while he languishes near the foot of the table

'Ranieri old, Wenger a failure' - Mourinho mockery coming back to haunt him

Throughout his coaching career, Jose Mourinho has often had the last laugh. The most successful coach in the past decade along with Bayern Munich and former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, the Portuguese has relished putting down some of his counterparts. This season, however, it no longer seems so clever.

On Monday, Chelsea travel to Leicester for a meeting with the Premier League’s surprise package in 2015-16 – and his old foe Claudio Ranieri.

The Portuguese replaced Ranieri at Chelsea for his first spell in 2004. “It was the end of the cycle,” he said back then. But he later attacked the Italian when the two men were working in Serie A, Mourinho at Inter and Ranieri at Juventus.

“Ranieri has the mentality of someone who doesn’t need to win,” he said in 2008. “He is almost 70 years old, he has won a Supercup and another small trophy and he is too old to change his mentality. He’s old and he hasn’t won anything.”

The Italian was actually 56 at the time, while he has won a little more than Mourinho gave him credit for: a Copa del Rey and a Uefa Super Cup with Valencia, plus a Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa Italiana at Fiorentina. Nevertheless, Mou’s Inter side beat Ranieri’s Juventus to the title and he kept his reputation as a master of mind games.

Ahead of Monday’s match, however, Mourinho’s Chelsea are languishing just a point above the drop zone while the Italian’s Leicester side sit only one from the top with a game in hand. So, perhaps logically, it was a more gracious Jose who spoke on the eve of the game.

Nevertheless, there was still a hint of damning his rival with faint praise. “I think he won manager of the month,” the Portuguese said of Ranieri. “He should win manager of the half-term… the first six months.” And he couldn’t resist a barbed comment to go with it. “Last year, Ranieri was sacked by Greece for losing to the Faroe Islands,” he said. “Now, top of the league. It’s exciting.”

It’s nothing new, of course. Mourinho has often attacked Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, famously calling the Frenchman a “voyeur” in his first spell in charge of Chelsea, before labelling the Gunners boss a “specialist in failure” last year. He has also questioned how the 66-year-old has been able to stay in his job for so long.

But ahead of Leicester’s game at home to Chelsea on Monday, Arsenal are on top of the Premier League, while the question marks these days surround the future of Mourinho and not Wenger, who has put together an excellent side in north London on a much tighter budget than the Portuguese has had at any of his clubs with the exception of Porto.

And the other team looking like title contenders at the moment, Manchester City, are managed by another of Mourinho’s many adversaries: Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean coach was replaced by the Portuguese at Real Madrid and when the former later visited the Santiago Bernabeu as Malaga boss, he quipped: “If Madrid sacked me, I would go to a big team in England or Italy. I wouldn’t go to Malaga.”

It is all very well making such remarks while winning league titles and Champions Leagues, but Mourinho’s current tenure is proving much less successful, despite winning the Premier League and the Capital One Cup last season, and he may have to reassess his options if his Chelsea spell is brought to an end in the coming months.

In the Premier League, he has already had to do so and after last weekend’s shock defeat at home to promoted side Bournemouth, he said: “Our objective is to fight for the top four, but maybe now we have to think of finishing in the top six.”

It is quite a fall from grace and whatever does happen in the rest of the season, Chelsea’s current predicament means there is now little room for Mourinho’s customary smugness and arrogance.

And if Ranieri, Pellegrini or Wenger walk away with the title next May, it will be they who will have had the last laugh. For Jose, meanwhile, it’s just not funny any more.

Culled from goal.com

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Why PFA nominees show Premier League delivers best experience to fans

The Spanish Liga has its Galacticos. But it’s the Premier League where stars are made.

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The Spanish Liga has its Galacticos. But it’s the Premier League where stars are made.

At 24, is there a better young player in the game than Eden Hazard? What about goalkeepers and David de Gea? Harry Kane and young centre-forwards?

The shortlist for last night’s PFA Players Player of the Year epitomised the strength of the Premier League – and its inscrutable relationship with fans.

Yes, it still must be a wrench for Tottenham supporters seeing Gareth Bale bombing down Real Madrid‘s wing. But it also must have been some journey for those fans who followed the Welshman from battling in the Spurs reserve-team to running Inter Milan ragged at the San Siro.

At Chelsea, they’ve seen Hazard go from a stroppy, self-important 21 year-old, famous for kicking out at ball-boys, to a leader of men. A pro’s pro. A player who has world greats, including Zinedine Zidane, queuing to lavish praise on him. And Blues fans have seen all this, up close, develop over three years. That’s some football experience.

The same can be said of De Gea and his emergence at Manchester United. Forget about being the best young goalkeeper in the game, some claim he is the outright best on the planet. But those fans who follow United home-and-away will remember that infamous flap at Tottenham two years ago, the blast from former captain Gary Neville and all the headlines about the Spaniard not being good enough.

If he does return to Madrid this summer, Real’s support will be getting the finished article. But they will have missed the chance to see De Gea develop into the player he is today. The highs and lows. The unswerving faith a supporter has in a player’s potential being realised. For many, it’s a big part of being a football fan.

Just ask Spurs supporters about ‘one of our own’, Harry Kane.

Some will have seen Kane in youth games at Enfield. Picked him as ‘one to watch’. Kept faith as he battled away on-loan with the likes of Leyton Orient and Millwall. And now celebrate with fans around the world as Kane smashes through the 30-goal barrier.

You can’t manufacture that experience. It’s among the most enjoyable aspects of being a football fan. And the Premier League offers this to us like no other competition.

Philippe Coutinho’s story is arguably the best of the lot. Bouncing between Italy and Spain, his career was going nowhere. At 21, he was washed up, Inter Milan couldn’t get rid quickly enough. But with Liverpool, under Brendan Rodgers, Coutinho has rebuilt his game and his confidence. He’s now delivering on the potential which had Europe’s biggest clubs chasing his signature as a 17 year-old at Vasco da Gama. And this has all played out – in spectacular fashion – in front of the Kop.

Even the ‘old men’ of the PFA shortlist have their best years ahead of them. Both Chelsea striker Diego Costa and Arsenal‘s Chilean dynamo Alexis Sanchez are still 26. We’re sure to see their greatest moments achieved playing in the Premier League.

Since this season’s Champions League flop, English clubs have been hammered over transfer policy, scouting, even their development structure. But given the nominees we celebrated last night, the Premier League is still where stars are made.

Inter Milan boss Mancini targets Liverpool captain Gerrard for January

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is on the radar of Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan.

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The Mail on Sunday says Mancini is set to offer Gerrard a move in January, unless the Liverpool captain agrees a new deal at Anfield.

Gerrard also has a number of options to move to the United States next summer with New York Cosmos one potential avenue for the 34-year-old midfielder.

However, a move to Serie A could be appealing to the midfielder.

REVEALED: Inter Milan players in tears as Mazzarri says farewell

Several players were in tears when coach Walter Mazzarri informed them he’d been sacked by Inter Milan.

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Several players were in tears when coach Walter Mazzarri informed them he’d been sacked by Inter Milan.

Gazzetta dello Sport says Mazzarri welled up when addressing his squad.

Jonathan, Yuto Nagatomo, Hernanes and Juan Jesus were also said to be crying.

It is claimed former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic was the first to get up and thank Mazzarri with a hug.

Mazzarri: Inter in state of emergency

After the Nerazzurri’s 0-0 stalemate against Saint-Etienne in the Europa League, their coach conceded that his team are struggling for form and fitness

Mazzarri: Inter in state of emergency

Walter Mazzarri expressed his concern that Inter are in an “emergency situation” after their goalless draw with Saint-Etienne on Thursday.

The Serie A side were toothless against their French opponents at San Siro as their winning start to their Europa League campaign came to an end.

While dominating possessions for large periods, Group F leaders Inter were unable to break down the visitors and subsequently missed the chance to bolster their hopes of progression.

Mazzarri refused to comment on the surprise resignation of club icon Massimo Moratti as honorary president earlier on Thursday, amid reports the former president wanted the coach sacked.

But the ex-Napoli boss admitted that the current situation was a drastic one, with Inter boasting just one win from their last five games in all competitions.

“We are in an emergency situation and playing every three days meant we weren’t as sharp as usual,” Mazzarri told Mediaset.

“Today we had to change a great deal and considering the situation I think it was a good performance. The important thing was to continue picking up points.

“We are doing well in Europe even if of course we like to win every game. We had six youngsters on the field against Napoli on Sunday and put in a great performance.

“Of course I’d love champagne football but I don’t see many doing that nowadays. Saint-Etienne are a team to be respected.”

Inter are back in action on Sunday with a Serie A visit to Cesena.