‘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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Joaquin begs Fiorentina: Let me go home to Betis

The former Spain international has revealed that he is heartbroken that the Viola will not agree to his desire to be reunited with his family in Spain

Joaquin begs Fiorentina: Let me go home to Betis

Joaquin has made an impassioned plea to Fiorentina to let him go “home” to Real Betis.

The Spain international, who arrived in Florence from Malaga in 2013, is a crowd favourite at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and still has a year to run on his contract with the Viola.

However, he was left out of Paulo Sousa’s squad for Sunday’s Serie A opener at home to AC Milan as he is desperate to be allowed to rejoin Betis, where he started his professional career.

“I can no longer player for Fiorentina,” the winger told Firenzeviola.it.

“I’m not enjoying this moment because I would never have thought that a situation like this could be created at the end of my career.

“The truth is that I have been on the market since last year, when I was training away from the rest of the group.

“What I don’t understand is why they have now changed their mind.

“Nobody can decide for me. I want to be happy and that will only be in Seville, in my home.

“I would like to do this also for the good of the team, because I would not be able to play with this feeling inside.

“I’m being treated well here because the coach would like me to stay. I understand him but the situation has reached a point of no logic. It would no longer make sense for me to stay going forward.

“I’ve been wanting to return to Betis for five years. This is a matter of the heart, as my family is waiting there for me. It’s a question of blood and football.

“I always showed that I wanted to play for Fiorentina before, just like now I’m showing that I want to leave.

“Why must they take away my happiness?”

Barcelona players ‘baffled and confused’ by Enrique tactics

Barcelona players were left baffled by coach Luis Enrique’s substitutions for defeat to Malaga.

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Sport says Enrique’s hooking of Daniel Alves, who was to blame for Malaga‘s winner, for Javier Mascherano shocked senior players.

Gerard Pique was spotted during the second-half questioning Enrique’s tactics after the coach had told his players at the break: “We must have more patience, more ball movement, more fluency and open things up on the wings”.

The choice of Mascherano for Alves worked against such a strategy and a dressing room source stated afterwards: “It was like we spent 25 minutes not playing at all.”

Stunningly, Enrique did not speak to his players yesterday – in a week when Barca resume their Champions League campaign against Manchester City.

For the moment, however, the Barca locker room remains united, with senior players describing the home defeat as an “accident”.

Ronaldo on course for 60-goal haul

Many players have contributed to Real Madrid’s outstanding run both in terms of results and performances, but one has outshone the rest for his goalscoring exploits: Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. Who else?

Ronaldo on course for 60-goal haul

Although ‘Los Blancos’ are consistently providing spectacular team displays, the Portuguese star is invariably the difference maker as seen once again against Basel where his strike earned victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s troops in one of their weaker performances.

Cristiano has amassed 20 league goals after just 12 rounds of La Liga fixtures, one of which he missed. The 29-year-old is determined to continue finding the back of the net as he looks to beat the record of all records: ending the league season with more than 60 goals.

Ronaldo is averaging 1.8 goals per game so far this campaign having scored in every match that he has featured in, which is unprecedented in La Liga. His next potential victim is Málaga, a team that he has scored against 13 times in 10 games including six at La Rosaleda.

The Real Madrid number seven will be joined in attack by Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. Iker Casillas will be back in goal while Dani Carvajal and Marcelo will return to the side at full-back. The midfield trio will be Toni Kroos, Isco and James.

Javi Gracia’s side will look to achieve what no other side has managed and shut out Ronaldo. They have grounds for optimism having kept a clean sheet against Luis Enrique’s Barcelona back in September, although a depleted squad will test the depth of the Málaga ranks. Three key players are unavailable with Nordin Amrabat and Juanmi nursing injuries while Ignacio Camacho is suspended.