‘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


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.”


Mourinho: Manchester City do not deserve to be Premier League champions

The Portuguese broke his self-imposed media silence on Friday to hit out at the Blues’ title rivals over their flagrant spending after a January acquisition of Wilfried Bony

Mourinho: Manchester City do not deserve to be Premier League champions

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has again hit out at Manchester City for what he perceives to be a blatant disregard for Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, claiming the Etihad outfit to not deserve to be the champions of England.

Both Chelsea and City made big purchases in January, with Juan Cuadrado moving to London for £24.8 million (€33m) and Wilfried Bony joining Manuel Pellegrini’s side for £27m (€36m).

But Mourinho is unhappy that Chelsea’s signing of Cuadrado was funded largely through the sale of Andre Schurrle, while City, who were last year fined for failing to comply with FFP regulations, splashed out on Bony despite only releasing Matija Nastasic and Scott Sinclair on loan.

“It’s something that was explained 18 months ago when I met our owner [Roman Abramovich] and the club board before I joined,” Mourinho told reporters when asked about FFP.

“It was explained the profile of club Mr Abramovich wants, with total respect to the FFP rules. To keep the team strong, with the possibility to compete against the ones financially more powerful or against the ones who don’t care and don’t respect FFP, we had to work very hard.

“In my area, I tried to do that, analysing the players we can sell and those we can buy. But when it goes to numbers, it goes out of my control.

“It’s a good challenge. The only thing that is not nice is that you compete against the ones who don’t follow the same rules. That’s the only problem.

“I don’t think a team can be champions when you are punished, and it’s happened before, because you didn’t comply with FFP.”

Mourinho, whose side top the table by five points ahead of Saturday’s game at Aston Villa, claims he is frustrated by alleged double standards and when asked what the best deterrent would be, said: “Points [deduction], of course.”

Manuel Pellegrini was forced to cut Steven Jovetic from his Champions League knockout squad, which has already been reduced to 21, because of FFP restrictions.

Troubled Toure’s distant behaviour raises questions over City future

The four-times African Footballer of the Year has looked out of sorts at the Afcon, unhappy with his team’s tactics as his former boss openly touts a move to Inter

Troubled Toure's distant behaviour raises questions over City future

Eight minutes before the end of Cote d’Ivoire’s 1-0 win against Cameroon on Wednesday Yaya Toure was taken off. It was the second time in three games that the supposed talisman of African football was replaced.

Yaya, who won the Confederation of African Football’s Footballer of the Year award for a fourth straight year just before the Africa Cup of Nations started, has not looked happy in Equatorial Guinea. He mumbled his way through a press conference before Cote d’Ivoire’s first game, a disappointing 1-1 draw with Guinea, and has not faced the press since, despite being captain.

He brushed past reporters after the Cameroon match saying only “there’s no problem, there’s no problem”, before boarding the team bus. He had needed treatment after a firm challenge by Stephane Mbia but will be fit to face Algeria in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

He is clearly not enjoying his role as a deep-lying midfielder, while his former boss at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, is publicly discussing taking him to Inter.

The contrast with his elder brother, Kolo, could not be more noticeable. The Liverpool man has been a straight-backed, commanding presence who has clearly enjoyed his football. Kolo has been talkative, positive, confident and arguably the best defender of the tournament.

Yaya, on the other hand, has trudged off, shoulders slumped. He has worked hard, taken a few knocks, but has not yet controlled a game as he does for City.

On the day of the Cameroon game the Manchester Evening News carried the headline ‘Man City need to plan future without Yaya Toure’.

In Italy, Il Giornale published an interview with Yaya’s former manager, Robert Mancini, in which the Inter boss said: “He’s one of the best players in the world, he can still have his say. He played for many teams, in many leagues like Belgium, Spain, Russia, England. He only lacks Italy, this may be a good chance for him. We’re working on it. You know, there are some players who can change a team and Yaya is one of them. Next year we may try.”

Perhaps the transfer talk is bugging him. City reportedly harbour a lingering resentment over his behaviour last season, and have identified the likes of Paul Pogba and Ross Barkley as potential replacements.

Perhaps he is distracted by thoughts of missing Chelsea vs Manchester City on Saturday. Maybe he is simply not satisfied with his form or his role.

Herve Renard, the Cote d’Ivoire coach, talked about Yaya’s positioning ahead of the Cameroon match.

“Ivory Coast are not Manchester City,” he said. “The potential of the player is not the same.

“Manchester City have so many top-level players to defend, to build play very well, and Yaya can play further forward, behind the front two. It’s different for us. We do not have Fernandinho.

“We have to ask Yaya to do a different job, to play further back. But he is a professional, he will do as I ask. I explain what I want and he does it.

“Besides, he is very comfortable with this position, as he used to play there earlier in his career, especially at Barcelona.”

There was more of the same after the win that took Cote d’Ivoire through. This time, in response to questions about Cote d’Ivoire’s unadventurous performance, Renard said: “We are not Germany. We cannot attack all the time”.

The statistics show just how restrained Yaya has been. In 258 minutes on the pitch he has had one shot at goal, and that was not on target.  His passing has not been great, either – 27 of 140 attempts have gone astray.

Renard demanded more from Yaya after an “average” opening game. He helped to create Max Gradel’s equaliser against Mali in the second match, but Yaya was forced back again against Cameroon, as part of a successful defensive operation that denied the opposition a single attempt at goal.

Meanwhile Kolo has been talking about how much he enjoys guiding the new young defenders through a game, speaking of the strong spirit and confidence of a team in transition after the World Cup.

Before the tournament, Yaya said: “I have been lucky enough to win many trophies during my career but the Cup of Nations has always been my goal as an African.”

If he is going to win it this year, he needs to put his troubles behind him – whatever they are.

Man City boss Pellegrini gets snippy with reporters: RESPECT ME!

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini was short with journalists in the aftermath of their FA Cup defeat to Middlesbrough.


Pellegrini was asked why he left it so late to return from their warm weather camp in Dubai ahead of the Cup tie.

“It was not a game with Chelsea,” he replied. “I don’t want to say because you are telling me something that is not relative.”

So he was asked again. Would they have spent 14 hours on a plane, not to mention five days in a different time zone, had it been the week they were meeting their main rivals for the Premier League title?

“Chelsea stayed here. They did not go to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “Tottenham stayed here. They did not go to Abu Dhabi. I respect your opinion but you respect also mine.”

Pellegrini: Chelsea could fall away like Arsenal

The Gunners suffered a dramatic dip in form in 2013-14, eventually finishing fourth, and the Manchester City boss has warned the Blues that the title is not decided in December

Pellegrini: Chelsea could fall away like Arsenal

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has questioned Chelsea‘s ability to maintain their title challenge and has suggested their form could collapse as quickly as Arsenal’s did last season.

The Gunners led the Premier League for over 120 days in 2013-14 but ultimately finished fourth, 16 points behind City, following a dramatic dip in form in the second half of the season.

And, having cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table from eight points to three in recent weeks, Pellegrini has suggested that the Blues could fall away in the same manner as Arsene Wenger’s men.

“I think Arsenal last season had a very similar number of points as Chelsea have now. So we’ll see what happens in the second half of the season and how many points you need to win,” the Chilean told reporters.

“Maybe Arsenal last season couldn’t do it in the second half, but we don’t know what Chelsea will do this year. I think that we must try and think about our team and not the others.

“We always believed that we could make up the points, because we had so many games to play.

“You never win a title in December. Maybe you can be the best team and winning all the games, but you don’t know what will happen in the second half of the season.

“So we have a lot of points to fight for. Our team always continues trusting in the way we play and the things we do.

“You maybe remember last season, when we had just five games left and knew that we had to win them? We did it. I don’t know what psychological impact it has on other teams, but in our team we always fight to the end and are never beaten until mathematics say you cannot win.”

Are Manchester City a one-man team? We’re about to find out

Argentina forward Sergio Aguero suffered a suspected knee ligament injury during his club’s 1-0 Premier League win over Everton, leaving the champions shorn of their talisman

Are Manchester City a one-man team? We're about to find out

Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City are anticipating the news. What they are hoping for, the best case scenario, is that Sergio Aguero will be out until the New Year. If that’s the case then as far as City’s Premier League campaign goes, the timing of the top scorer’s knee ligament injury could have been worse. They are on a roll, earning 16 points from 18, and next to Chelsea in the standings with the summit in sight.

Moreover, City’s next five matches in the league are against Leicester City, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Burnley and the return game against Sunderland. None should trouble City, the Aguero injury notwithstanding. Indeed, he might have even earned a rest against any one of them over a hectic Christmas and New Year schedule. If he’s out any longer than that, however, Arsenal and Chelsea loom into view.

The problem is that before any of those five matches, all of which can reasonably be expected to yield three points, City go to Roma with qualification from their Champions League group uncertain. More so now for the loss of their most important player.

“Of course, it’s a big problem because Sergio was in a very good moment,” Pellegrini said on Saturday. He does not usually put such emphasis on individuals. “He is a decisive player for our team.”

City’s chances of defending their league title were fortified when Chelsea were beaten by Newcastle on Saturday. Their chances at home and in Europe regressed when Aguero grimaced as he hit the cold turf barely a minute into the frosty evening match at home against Everton.

Aguero stumbled clear from a first challenge against Muhamed Besic before taking an awkward step and jarring his knee in the Etihad turf. No way would Pellegrini have swapped, hypothetically speaking, that three-point boost for the loss of Aguero. No pain, no gain.

City have had very little time to cheer this gradual erosion of Chelsea’s Premier League lead; the gap has closed by five points in three matches. The win against a lacklustre Everton, however, has come at monumental cost.

City now face Roma without their talisman; Aguero would surely have gorged hungrily on a depleted backline which gave up another two goals to Sassuolo on Saturday. His place will instead be ceded to Edin Dzeko, no less committed to the City cause but the very definition of an understudy given the way Aguero is playing. David Silva will not be ready either. Stevan Jovetic has a hamstring complaint while Vincent Kompany remains touch and go. City’s spine, at full strength, is formidable. Only Yaya Toure remains of it with Roma on the horizon.

The charge of course is that Manchester City, the richest entity in football, are a one-man team. Well, we are about to find out. Despite furnishing the city’s second team with over €1.2 billion worth of spending since 2009, the Abu Dhabi United Group were still looking at a side which overburdens one player above all others: Sergio Aguero. And just like a weightlifter carrying more than his body can reasonably take, Aguero’s knee buckled.

“It’s impossible to know at this moment how long he will be out,” Pellegrini admitted. “He has a problem with his ligament in his knee but I think tomorrow [Sunday] we’ll know better how serious it is.”

Aguero has scored 19 goals to this point this season; 14 in the league. He has kept them not only in matches but in tournaments to which his hat-trick against Bayern Munich would attest. He is a player who appears to have no obvious weakness when fit, but he spends too much of his time infirm. The issue for City is that they, and no other club in the world, have anyone like him. So much is asked of Aguero, repeatedly, because he is so relentlessly effective.

It was easy and tempting to forget, during this run of form, that he is prone to injury. He has missed about three months worth of football since the start of last season and that included an injury-ravaged World Cup in the summer. Aguero’s career goes in fits and starts. He’s not fit and then he starts. He had a relatively clean season to this point. This is his first injury of it, but it might be the most significant.

He suffered one about the same time last year. He had enough time to come back and fire in seven goals in five matches before having to take more time off. Without him they lost to Chelsea and Barcelona while also dropping points at Norwich.

He cried. That, perhaps, was the best prognosis of Aguero’s injury. His tears said it all. The goals he has scored in recent weeks, to fire City back into contention in the Premier League and the Champions League, must have flashed before his eyes. For now, at least, the great striker is quelled.