‘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


Manchester United fans must accept change in approach – Rio Ferdinand

Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand says everything at the club is now “totally different” and urged supporters to accept the change in approach under Louis van Gaal.

United sit second in the Premier League table after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Liverpool, but they have struggled to find any rhythm in their play.

Stories also emerged during the week, confirmed by Van Gaal, that skipper Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick had approached the manager earlier in the season with concerns over squad morale.

Ferdinand says the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby are long gone, and believes the fans will still be perfectly happy if trophies are won with Van Gaal’s more possession-based football.

“The philosophy is completely different,” the former England defender, who believes Man City have the best chance of success in the Premier League, said.

“Manchester United supporters now have to go away and re-educate themselves on how to watch Manchester United. Don’t go there expecting to see free-flowing, attacking, gung-ho football.

“It’s methodical, side to side, wait for an opportunity to come. It’s a different type of football, very methodical, clear-cut pattern of the way he wants the team to play and it’s totally different.

“I’m not saying that is the wrong way — it is the way he chooses to play and it is not the way Manchester United are used to playing.

Anthony Martial, signed for a minimum fee of £36 million, highlights Louis van Gaal’s big spending.

“If it brings success, Manchester United fans will be delighted, I will be delighted. It is just a different way of playing football.

“People who are old enough to remember those times [Busby, etc], they want fairytale and they’re going to reminisce about old times and want to see what they’re used to. The younger generation, they’re not so attached to that and they can move on, but they’re going to want to move on to a style that they like.”

Ferdinand also revealed he and former defensive partner Nemanja Vidic had discussed the recent transfer business at United — with Van Gaal having spent over a quarter of a billion pounds on new recruits — and also questioned why a new centre-back was not signed over the summer.

“I just think, with Daley Blind playing centre-half every week, you think you’ve spent all that money, where is the centre-half?” he added.

Wolfsburg’s Allofs frustrated by Premier League’s financial muscle

The German sporting director bemoaned Germany’s lack of television money but was happy with the club’s Champions League draw

Wolfsburg's Allofs frustrated by Premier League's financial muscle

Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs has suggested the recent Premier League television deal has skewed the balance of power financially in Europe.

Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up look set to lose star man Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City in the next few days, as the English club demonstrate their financial capabilities once more with what Allofs described as an “astonishing” offer.

Following the relaxation of Financial Fair Play rules, City have brought in Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi in recent months, with a host of Premier League rivals also making the most of bumper TV money.

Asked whether clubs who receive such financial incomes were set to dominate European football, he told reporters: “If they do things right, yes.

“One thing is for sure, the last team in the Premier League get more money than [Bundesliga champions] Bayern Munich.

“This is the situation. But this is the big task for our football league – to get more money from television.

“We have to compete with that and hopefully we can.”

The DFB-Pokal holders were drawn with Manchester United, PSV and CSKA Moscow in Group B at the UEFA Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday, and Allofs thinks that the group is manageable for the German side.

“I think we can say it is a good draw. There were groups that were much more difficult,” he added.

“We did well last season, we finished second in the Bundesliga and we won the cup, so we are very optimistic to go through to the next round.

“All the teams in our group have international quality. But it isn’t impossible to qualify for the next round.

“I think Manchester United is our main rival, but Eindhoven as well. Moscow knocked out Sporting, so that’s not so easy.

“We have to improve ourselves in comparison to our Europa League season last year. But I think it is manageable. We are looking forward to the Champions League.”

Gary Neville is right – Wenger’s arrogance will cost Arsenal the title

The former Manchester United defender has attacked the Gunners’ “naive or arrogant” transfer policy since their last Premier League title in 2004 – and with justification

Gary Neville is right - Wenger's arrogance will cost Arsenal the title

Arsene Wenger bristled when he was informed of Gary Neville’s stinging criticism of Arsenal’s “naive or arrogant” transfer policy in the 11 years since they last won the Premier League title.

But the Gunners manager would be better off taking Neville’s criticism on board and examining it in more detail – because the former Manchester United defender is spot on with his assessment.

Arsenal still have 35 matches to correct their shaky start to the season, but in their first three games Wenger’s side have looked miles away from winning the title.

Neville’s argument is that Wenger falsely clings on to a belief that Arsenal can return to the top with only technical players and that they have never replaced the physical dominance of the likes of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto.

Few Arsenal fans could disagree having watched so many lightweight performances since the ‘Invincibles’ tore opponents apart on a weekly basis in 2003-04.

In the interim, Wenger has tried to copy the model of Spain and Barcelona by relying on flair players.

When it clicks, it looks brilliant, yet they cannot grind out results in the same way as their more physical title rivals like Chelsea and Manchester City.

Wenger strives for a utopia in which the Londoners can simply outplay their opponents every week. It is never going to happen and it’s not how you win the league. Santi Cazorla can buzz around all he likes, but he needs an imposing figure next to him when the going gets tough.

Ignoring the opposition might have worked for the ‘Invincibles’ but not only did they have the physical prowess that Neville cites, they were so good that they could play how they wanted.

It is naive to think that the current Arsenal team will always pass their opponents off the pitch.

It is arrogant to believe that Arsenal can win the league this season by signing only a goalkeeper after they finished 12 points behind the champions last term.

You could sense that attitude had crept through to the squad over the summer, too. After the players spoke about something “special” happening throughout pre-season, they were caught cold by West Ham on the opening day.

Wenger admits his side have made a “very average” start to the season with four points from their first three matches already leaving them six points behind City. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when you consider that Arsenal have the same outfielders as last season while City have improved their already superior squad.

Arsenal’s title challenge was blown apart long before Christmas last year after a poor start to the campaign and supporters will dread history repeating itself. It has happened too many times in recent seasons.

So how does Wenger plan to turn it around in the remaining week of the transfer window?

Wenger insists that he is only in the market for “exceptional” players to improve his squad and that is understandable in many respects.

The lack of top class strikers in world football means the club have focused on Karim Benzema as their main forward target this summer, with few alternatives that can provide a guaranteed upgrade on Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck.

But Wenger also turned his nose up at the £25 million pricetag for Morgan Schneiderlin earlier in the summer when the French midfielder could add the physicality and experience that Neville talks about. There are others out there who can do a similar job such as Grzegorz Krychowiak at Sevilla, who has been strongly linked with a move to north London.

“I can’t think of a word to describe that bunch – I could but it wouldn’t be usable on television,” Neville said about the Arsenal squad.

“They’re certainly not what I would call what you want to win you a league, the powerful characters, the strength you need running through your team.

“I just cannot get my head around why he would not sign players of power to assist these talented players you’ve got to enable them to win the league.

“It is the one big, if you like, black mark against Arsene Wenger in these last 10 years… to me it’s arrogance – to think that you are not going to adapt your team to impact on the other teams you’re playing against. It is either naivety or arrogance because they keep losing this way.”

Wenger has an enormous transfer budget – up to £80m – and he should be more ruthless, too. While Per Mertesacker is a good player and a great leader, there are plenty of central defenders out there that would improve Arsenal’s starting XI.

Petr Cech is an exceptional signing and showed why with two magnificent saves in the goalless draw with Liverpool on Monday night.

It is naive and arrogant, though, to think that Cech’s arrival alone will be enough for Arsenal to win their first title since 2004.

Fernandinho hits out at Diego Costa: He’s always trying to offend

The pair clashed during Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Chelsea, with the striker attempting to confront the Brazilian at half-time only to be restrained by his team-mates

Fernandinho hits out at Diego Costa: He's always trying to offend

Fernandinho has accused Diego Costa of “always trying to offend” when he plays after the pair clashed during Chelsea‘s 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

The striker reportedly had to be stopped from confronting the City midfielder as the two headed off the pitch at the half-time interval, with the Spain international suffering a cut to the head during a earlier clash.

“It was an accident and the nature of the game. It happens in football,” Fernandinho is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“He [Costa] is always trying to offend the opposition, but I keep calm and keep playing. I just didn’t want to fight or have any confrontation and just to play for my team.”

Sunday’s commanding victory saw City build up a five-point lead over the Premier League champions after just two games and Fernandinho feels the squad is stronger than that which finished second last season.

He added: “It’s been a good way to start, two wins, six goals and none conceded. We have come to win the title this season.

“The manager prepared the team very well and we have started the Premier League very well and this is important because we have a long way to go and we are much stronger as a team.

“I’m proud of being part of this team and it’s the way we like to play, with a lot of intensity, control of the ball. We like to have possession and in both games we have played, we did it in the best way.

“The important thing is to win the title and if we can do it with style and by entertaining, it’s perfect. But if you cannot we have to be more consistent, especially in defending.

“We have got good players up front who can score a lot of goals, but the most important thing is to be consistent in defence and midfield as well.”

Mourinho: Pogba is the Eiffel Tower & Chelsea can’t have him

The manager is a long-term admirer of the Juventus midfielder but claims he has faith in his Premier League title-winning squad

Mourinho: Pogba is the Eiffel Tower & Chelsea can't have him

Jose Mourinho has compared Paul Pogba to the Eiffel Tower and suggested the Juventus midfielder is a footballing landmark that Chelsea are unlikely to get their hands on.

The Portuguese manager has been a long-term admirer of the midfielder, pinpointing the France international as a key target for Chelsea over a year ago, but faces competition for his signature from a number of Europe’s top sides.

Mourinho, who has added just loanee Radamel Falcao and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to his squad so far this summer, feels Pogba would boost any team, but remains confident in the collective strength of his squad.

“Pogba is not to put pressure on people,” Mourinho says. “Pogba is one of the top players in the world. Pogba goes to any team and improves that team automatically. If he stays at Juventus, Juventus will be very strong again. If he goes somewhere else he will improve immediately a team. This is not our case.

“We are changing [Petr] Cech for Begovic, we are changing Didier [Drogba] for Falcao and we are changing kids by other kids. I think everybody has an interest in Pogba. But there are things you can do and things you cannot do. I love the Eiffel Tower but I can’t have the Eiffel Tower in my garden. I can’t even have the Eiffel Tower of Las Vegas.”

Falcao was viewed as a surprise addition by some following the striker’s poor form for Manchester United last term, but Mourinho feels the Colombian’s fitness woes are behind him heading into the new season.

“When a player is injured or has bad consequences of a big injury there is sometimes nothing you can do. We made ourselves sure that was not the case with Falcao because if that was the case he would not be with us.

“He didn’t perform [at United] for many reasons. Some players don’t perform with me, some players don’t perform with Chelsea, they go to other clubs and they perform. This can happen. So we know that Falcao is in good conditions related to the surgery he had before he went to Man United.

“We believe that he can with us and to replace a big player like Didier we wanted to go with another big player with experience, ready, so these three strikers for us – Falcao, Rémy and Diego. We are very happy.”

Despite Manchester United spending over £80 million on the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay and Manchester City signing Raheem Sterling for £49m, Mourinho feels his title-winners are still the team to beat.

“I told the players that we are the same team and the others are not the same team. I cannot stop opponents to make an assault to the banks and spend millions and millions. I cannot stop that. I cannot stop [that] the others have a feeling that we are playing against the champions.

“The others are spending. The others are buying a lot to try to be better than us and the fact that we are the same – we are changing a goalkeeper for another one, a striker for another one.

“It’s a big challenge. To be better with the same people, the players have to be better individually than they were last year. So when they think: ‘Oh last season I did great’ this season it is not enough.’

“John Terry – great season. This season it is not enough. Must be better. Fabregas – I don’t know how many assists last year. Fantastic. It’s not enough. Because the others are going to improve with the players they are bringing and we have to improve by ourselves with our work.”

Nastasic: Pellegrini never gave me a chance at Man City

The Serbian moved to Schalke in January 2015 having fallen out of favour under the Chilean, bringing an end a two-and-a-half-year stay in the Premier League

Nastasic: Pellegrini never gave me a chance at Man City

Matija Nastasic does not believe Manuel Pellegrini gave him a fair chance to break back into the first team at Manchester City.

Nastasic was signed from Fiorentina by Roberto Mancini in 2012 and became a first-team regular under the Italian.

However, following the Italian’s sacking, the centre-back made just 13 Premier League appearances with new boss Pellegrini in charge as City reclaimed the title.

Nastasic did not feature at all for City before making the move to Schalke in January during the 2014-15 season.

“City always have a good team with 25 top players, but the coach is only able to let 11 of them play,” he told Goal. “That’s not easy.

“In my first year, I played a lot of games. In the first half of my second season, it was also good. Then I got injured and missed over three months. Then I returned and didn’t play anymore.

“I spoke to Manuel Pellegrini, we’ve talked two or three times. He said he’d give me a chance, but I didn’t feel so. It was a hard time.

“Six months before I came to Schalke, I didn’t play a single game for City. I only played for the national team. I am happier to be here now.”

Nastasic made the move away from City to Germany, but believes the Premier League will be a more attractive prospect to players than ever before following the new television rights deal.

“Every club in the Premier League has an unbelievable amount of money,” he said. “Now they signed a new TV deal. They have totally different possibilities and almost every player can be paid.

“They just ask: ‘How much?’ and then they pay the money.”

Nastasic was signed at Schalke by Roberto Di Matteo but does not fear for his future after the former Chelsea boss was replaced by Andre Breitenreiter.

“It was a pleasure to play under Di Matteo,” he said. “That he left, isn’t a problem. It’s football’s business that coaches change.

“A new coach with new ideas can also be an advantage for the players. Especially because Andre Breitenreiter is good new coach.”

He added: “Andre is a great person. I can see the enthusiasm in his eyes and also feel it, when he speaks to us. He is passionate and likes to communicate, that’s important for me and the team.

“I like his style. Together we can archieve a lot.”