Jose Mourinho wasn’t even watching the television but he already had his ammunition. After a pulsating second leg of Chelsea’s Carling Cup clash with Liverpool the Portuguese felt the need to intensify the siege mentality he’s been brewing at Stamford Bridge since his side were held to a draw against Southampton during the festive period.
“There is a ‘campaign’ on the television”, Mourinho sermonised, “with a certain pundit that is saying: ‘Diego Costa crimes.’ This guy must be nuts. The guy that is saying that”.
There is no manager with a better understanding of the media than the self-proclaimed Special One. Only minutes after Sky’s coverage of Diego Costa’s performance was accompanied with the caption ‘Diego Costa crimes’, the Chelsea boss and BT Sports ambassador was utilising them as a weapon for his own success.
Chelsea games are bookended between Mourinho being informed of how his side is portrayed; after the ninety minutes he is briefed on the media coverage of matches, before them he has been known to read through match programmes at opposition grounds.
Mourinho’s arduous consumption of media content ensures even the slightest bit of criticism toward his team will be seen by him. This is particularly useful during moments like this.
December and January brought people’s perception of this current side back down to earth. Before Chelsea’s defeat to Newcastle at the beginning of December, the idea that this side may go the whole season undefeated was discussed far too seriously. Spurs discarded Chelsea on New Year’s Day as easily as a child would when flinging away their rattle, while an embarrassing, or disgraceful according to the man himself, loss at home to Bradford knocked them out of the FA Cup.
It should come as no surprise then that Mourinho has reverted to alienating all outside his squad of world-class talents recently. Nobody does antagonising provocation quite like charming Jose.
The case-studies behind this are plentiful. Often there is a lack of originality behind his tricks. Last season he repeated a favourite trick from his time in Spain when he celebrated in front of the opposition bench after securing a late victory over Manchester City. The most frequent put down from Mourinho is blissful ignorance; pretending to not know a certain rival’s name. He has performed this manoeuvre on Manuel Pellegrini and Tito Villanova over the years, but also after the Bradford defeat.
“'Is there any player in Barnsley... How do you say? No, their team? Bradford”.
His deflections always hit the target. After dropping two points at St. Mary’s the main talking point was Mourinho slating the performance of Phil Dowd, somebody he felt was too fat to referee.
Mourinho doesn’t pick and choose his targets; naturally those that are bristled the most are in direct conflict with the Portuguese protagonist. He has no problem taking aim at others too though, regardless of whether or not they once shared a relationship; last year Steve Clarke and West Brom were dismissed after a contentious decision saw Chelsea snatch three points early in the season.
Jose Mourinho feeds off hate. He has always tried to create distractions at his clubs in order to reinforce his squad’s resolve.
In his most recent book Roy Keane discussed how he views anger is an energy and explains that without it there can be ‘a massive drop’.
Mourinho approaches the emotion in a similar way; after the last month his squad will be fuelled on resentment.