Jose Mourinho caused quite a stir during his time with Chelsea, especially whenever he spoke to the media and he is at it again ahead of this Wednesday’s last-16 Champions League tie with his former employers. Mourinho has stoked the fires by claiming that a “strong team” would not lose four Premier League games as Chelsea have done this season.
Inter Milan vs. Chelsea was always going to be a big enough match because of the Mourinho factor. The Portuguese man has never been shy of hiding his opinions on anything so it should not come as a surprise that he could not resist the temptation ahead of his old club’s visit to the San Siro. Speaking in the Guardian, he said: “Of course when a team is strong, strong, strong it doesn’t lose so many matches, so many points.” Quite what Chelsea’s players and Ancelotti make of this remains to be seen, but this is Mourniho’s style. It will be interesting to see whether the current Chelsea boss wants to get involved in a war of words, but there is every chance he will make a note of the comments. Sticking Mourniho’s words on the away dressing room wall may be the wisest thing Ancelotti can do. Chelsea’s players would not need extra motivation or inspiration in a match of this magnitude but Ancelotti’s teamtalk looks like it has been provided for him.
Ancelotti and Mourinho had a strained relationship when the former was the manager of AC Milan. Mourinho looks like he does not forget these types of things easily so he is just raising the temperature ahead of the match. The former Chelsea manager is an expert at building up an atmosphere, and also doing it to raise his own team, but his words could play in to Chelsea’s hands and come back to haunt him. Some of Chelsea’s current players, namely Frank Lampard and John Terry, had a great relationship with Mourinho and they really took to his ways of management. Lampard has revealed that the pair frequently exchange text messages so it is clear that there is a good deal of appreciation there. Even though managers and players move on, would the likes of Lampard and Terry feel slightly shocked at Mourinho’s remarks? The Inter boss could make the men from Stamford Bridge determined to prove their old manager wrong.
The match on Wednesday provides an opportunity for Ancelotti to further inflict more misery on Mourinho, who is going through a tough time in Italy. Mourinho is trying to silence his critics and to enjoy being at the centre of attention, but he realises that the Italian press are constantly on his back. Should Chelsea become the second English team to beat Inter Milan at this stage of the Champions League, for the second year running, then the questions about “strong team” will be firmly placed at Mourinho, as will his position at the club.
The on-the-pitch battle is one where it could be more attritional rather than pleasing on the eye. However, such is the way with Mourinho; the battle inside the press room is just as intriguing ahead of this tie. Ancelotti is held in high regard in Italy, so the ‘Special One’, with his traditional pre-match comments about the opposition, has given Chelsea’s Ancelotti an opportunity to show the reason why he is special.