In the pre-match presser for Manchester City’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur, coach Jose Mourinho set the tone for both his opponents and his team with some smart jabs.
With Pep Guardiola and Manchester City coming to town Saturday afternoon, Jose Mourinho will say what is necessary to get into his opponent’s head and grab his teams’ attention. With some jabs toward both Gareth Southgate and managers pressuring players about national team service as well as some frank comments about his team’s journey Mourinho accomplished his goals.
Under Pep’s Skin
HotspurHQ already covered the rivalry that exists between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola from a results perspective. However, that rivalry means doing what one must to get an edge. In this instance Mourinho used comments about Raheem Sterling’s lack of participation in the England camp, but that he would feature on Saturday against Tottenham.
Jose Mourinho, first said he did not want to spend much time on it, but then spoke for a couple minutes about the fact that he has heard, and he would like Gareth Southgate to share about coaches who “pressure players” and coaches that Southgate calls to speak with in regards to that pressure to not participate with the England National Team.
Mourinho reminded those listening that Tottenham sent a somewhat banged up Eric Dier to camp in October and he was returned injured and then needed two weeks to recover missing multiple games for Spurs. It was about and in comparison, with Eric Dier that Mourinho brought up Sterling who did not participate for England and now will be available for Manchester City.
The entire line of thought stemmed from a question about Kane playing a “dead rubber” match for England to begin with. Ultimately, Jose just wanted to get under Guardiola’s skin a little while simultaneously reminding Southgate of the inequity that exists in how much some of his players give. We also know that the efforts worked as Guardiola specifically spoke about Sterling and Mourinho in his press conference.
Guardiola never denied anything about the pressure, joked about Mourinho the doctor, and oh Raheem Sterling is available. So maybe Mourinho is not a doctor but in this situation he sure was clairvoyant.
Setting the Tone for Tottenham
Most of the questions from the panel were looking for sound bites like what we just spoke about above with Guardiola, Southgate, and Sterling. However, Mourinho was asked one footballing question about the evolution of his team and if he was happy a year on and Spurs progress. This was clearly a question that excited Mourinho as he smiled and spoke for a minute or two about the Tottenham journey, he was on with the club.
Mourinho noted he and Spurs were at the beginning of their journey whereas other clubs were on the journey for much longer already. It was if you look at “Liverpool for 5 Years, City for 10 years, Chelsea for 20 years, but we are just beginning.” Mourinho went on to note his team was “far from perfection” and were “far from me being happy”, although Tottenham are a “better team” they then were a year ago.
We are far from me being happy.
We are not a perfect team.
We are a better team than we were.”
Mourinho ended his response saying thank you to the reporter and noting his agreement Spurs were better than before, but they have “a long way to go”, but that the squad was a more confident and better team with a “different identity” and a positive mentality for every match.
All these comments, particularly about the team not being perfect and him being far from happy are comments for his players. If they think they have done anything at this point, they are sorely mistaken and it only takes a little slip to fall down the ladder hard and far, ask Dele Alli. While performing good for a little bit is nice, Jose Mourinho wants quality on a consistent basis.
Jose Mourinho’s not so subtle message to the team that he expects more was as clear as his barb at Guardiola. Hopefully, it will be as effective and later today we will see the response, which will be more than a joke and lead to a Spurs win over City.