With Jose Mourinho now installed at Tottenham Hotspur – though it still feels odd to acknowledge that – we can expect to see a number of his renowned characteristics in evidence sooner rather than later.
Then there is his propensity to dish out barbed comments, usually in pressers and usually with a target in mind and very much connected to this is another well-known trait, one that is especially pertinent here because no other manager in modern times has recognised – and so willingly embraced – the infinite power in creating a rivalry quite like the Portuguese coach.
In the past such self-created foes have taken the form of individuals – such as Arsene Wenger – for personal sport while to motivate his players rival clubs have been pinpointed to be their anathema. During his first stint at Chelsea that was Liverpool and you would be mistaken if you believe that the fierce rivalry occurred organically via some high-profile clashes. In fact it had Jose’s mucky fingerprints all over it. In La Liga, Barcelona was held up to be Real Madrid’s bete noire; a darling of the authorities no less.
With a coaching style and personality that thrives off tension, he is a Moriarty forever in need of a Holmes, and now that Jose is wearing Spurs pyjamas to bed, the question is who he will dream of the most.
Will it be Arsenal, the obvious choice given their historic enmity, locality, and similar stature? Or might it be Chelsea, Mourinho’s old haunt and fellow London giant? Both certainly tick every box. Each would have him grinding his teeth in slumber.
Perhaps. But there is an outsider worth considering here and that is Leicester City.
Already the groundwork has been laid, what with the two clubs battling it out for the league title in 2016. Then, as the dramatic finale reached its conclusion Spurs supporters grew increasingly exasperated and resentful of the media’s favouritism towards their opponent’s ‘fairy tale’ narrative.
Indeed, from a Leicester perspective – as this forum illustrates – they were later surprised to discover just how deep the loathing went.
As for the present day it is Leicester who could be said to have taken Tottenham’s chair at the top six table, currently lying second as Mourinho’s side languish. And if this were not galling enough it can be viewed that the Foxes have also stolen a march in the PR battleground too with their thrilling, open football making them the neutral’s sweethearts, a title that Spurs used to boast under Pochettino.
In fact, it almost feels like Leicester have taken on Tottenham’s identity of late with a progressive coach in Brendan Rodgers Poch-ing his way to a top four finish with shrewdly bought personnel.
Mourinho won’t like that one bit. He will bristle at the constant plaudits. He will want to be where they are.
On the penultimate weekend of the season, Tottenham host their new alter-egos and if all goes to plan under fresh management it’s not unreasonable to think that much will be at stake.
No matter what the result expect the formerly special one to have a barbed comment prepared, just in case.
This is a rivalry to watch develop.