Battle of the Bosses: Wenger's new nadir, Jose channels Fergie
Graham Ruthven reviews the weekend's action in the Premier League, with Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho taking centre stage.
Getting out-tacticked by Tony Pulis is a bit like being beaten to an Oscar by Michael Bay - both men are successful at what they do, but neither are masterminds of their respective fields. Yet Wenger found himself out-thought by a man who thinks it’s entirely normal to stand while holding a press conference. And you thought Bayern Munich was the nadir of his Arsenal career?
The Gaffer Tapes
“I am so proud. After the Champions League, the last few days at training people were so, so, sad, people don’t talk too much.” But Guardiola’s joy wasn’t exactly authentic. Did he slyly knock back a Xanax as he walked up the tunnel at full time? That’s surely the only explanation for a press conference that also saw him describe the size of John Stones’ stones.
Mind Games Corner
Manchester United's Eric Bailly is squirted with water by manager Jose Mourinho as Phil Jones looks onReuters
“We will probably lose on Sunday,” Jose Mourinho insisted after Thursday’s Europa League win over Rostov, puffing out his cheeks in a huff with the Premier League, the FA, UEFA and anyone else who dare schedule a game for Manchester United to play.
Feud of the Week
“It's difficult to accept the second goal,” Puel said. “If the referee gives penalty for the first (to Tottenham) then he needed to give penalty for us. I cannot see the difference.” He was referring to the tackle made by Ben Davis on Dusan Tadic which prompted an angry response from Puel on the touchline. He tutted rather loudly.
It begs the question - how did Ranieri get it so badly wrong this season? Did he forbid Jamie Vardy’s pre-match Lucozade bottle filled with port? Did he mock Kasper Schmeichel by claiming Olivier Giroud, not he, is the most handsome player in English football? The Italian might have been the driving force behind football’s greatest ever upset, but it’s only now becoming clear just how horrible a horrible boss he was this season.
Having been there since October, Manchester United finally moved out of sixth place on Saturday… into seventh place. Everton’s win over Hull City moved them momentarily above Mourinho’s side, but by beating Middlesbrough on Sunday United leapfrogged both the Toffees and Arsenal into fifth place.
That was something to celebrate, with Mourinho nearly landing one on a security guard as he swung a clenched fist around his head at full time. Man Utd’s win at the Riverside was reminiscent of the way they used to win matches under Sir Alex Ferguson, when he could get away with playing Fabio and John O’Shea in the centre of midfield no matter the match or occasion.
Mourinho went with Phil Jones at left back on Sunday, also using Marouane Fellaini as an auxiliary forward, and still found a way to win. Fergie, a man who at times seemingly handed out positions to his players by tombola, must have been proud.