A case of Mourinho's sour grapes
Mourinho's nasty Benitez attack shows he's losing transfer battle
Jose Mourinho crossed the line. He went for a cheap gag, but cheapened himself.
In making fun of Rafa Benitez's waistline, he made a fool of himself.
He won an easy battle with a lazy potshot, but suggested once again why he might be losing the war in the transfer market.
The Chelsea manager whines when he's not winning. In recent days, he's made more noise than a busking violinist.
And he went too far with Benitez, revealing a perfectionist fed up with the imperfections of his pre-season preparations.
Mourinho certainly had good reason to be irritated yesterday morning (Singapore time). In a daft interview in Spain, Benitez's wife Montserrat Seara had joked that her husband now had to come in for a third time to clean up the mess left behind by Mourinho.
Even the most casual glances at the timelines - and the respective achievements of both managers - at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, would highlight how absurd the comment was. Simple stats would've been enough to put down the silly attack.
But Mourinho went further, added the cutting caveat that if Benitez's wife "takes care of her husband's diet she will have less time to speak about me".
It was a tawdry response, one that belonged in bars and kindergartens. It was beneath a title-winning manager, or at least it should've been.
And what happens next? If Roberto Martinez refuses to sell John Stones to Chelsea, will Mourinho mock receding hairlines? Will he call upon the French frog's legs stereotypes to put down Arsene Wenger?
The potential witticisms are endless, each one duller and meaner than the one before.
Unless he's a five-year-old bully trying to take sole possession of the kindergarten sandpit, Mourinho might be better served allowing his footballers to do the talking.
But he's not entirely sure they can. Not quite. He hasn't made the signings. The Chelsea ranks lack reinforcements. So he barks like a cornered dog instead.
When he's not pointing fingers at bulging waistlines, he's ridiculing bulging budgets instead.
Wenger always treats Mourinho with the kind of disdain usually reserved for a splinter burrowed beneath the skin, but he's running out of patience before a ball has been kicked in Sunday's Community Shield.
Rolling his eyes more times than a fainting parachutist, he laughed off Mourinho's latest digs that Arsenal are now a big-spending club.
It's not that the Chelsea manager was wrong. It's just that he's an enormous pot calling Wenger black.
Since the summer of 2013, Arsenal's net spend does exceed Chelsea's total - £105.2 million to £37.6 million ($224m to $80m) - but that's largely because the Blues have been forced to cast off too many overpriced mistakes to balance the books.
In the same period, Chelsea still spent more money than Arsenal (£216.8m to £142m). But the Gunners had less deadwood to cut away.
Mourinho is not getting his own way, in the transfer market or in his boardroom, so he reacts with the subtlety of a foot-stomping toddler in a toy shop.
His mood is not helped by his former mentor throwing around cash like the Kardashians. Mourinho comes across as a miser compared to the ongoing spending spree of Louis van Gaal at Manchester United.
With every chest-thumping signing and madcap motivational speech about restoring the Theatre of Dreams to its former glory, van Gaal sounds more like Mourinho than the man himself.
The older manager is fast. The other manager seems permanently furious.
For a man devoted to the siege mentality, Mourinho would not be short of conspiracy theories that prove the walls are closing in.
Wenger and van Gaal are out-spending him. Most in Madrid still hate him. When Benitez's wife ridicules him, the Spaniards laugh at him and impressionable young defenders are struggling to join him.
It's hard not to conclude that in normal circumstances, Stones would've been paraded before the media a month ago, holding up a Chelsea jersey and standing beside a beaming Mourinho.
But these are extraordinary times. Premier League clubs are swimming in TV cash. Everton can play the waiting game, knowing that if Chelsea refuse to budge on the exorbitant fee, someone else will.
Mourinho knows that too. The other clubs have bigger piggy banks now.
So he lashes out. But the sniping is as petty as it is pointless.
While he sneers at Benitez's waistline, his rivals gorge at the transfer trough.
JOSE’S TOP BARBS
"I thought he was going to thank me for the title I gave him. Ask all the Inter fans what they think of me and him."
- On Rafa Benitez (above) after he led Inter Milan to win the 2010 Club World Cup soon after Mourinho’s exit
"Many coaches have won it more than once but there is only one club that was leading 3-0 in the final and managed to lose it. He is 68 and we’ll see how many I have bagged in 23 years."
- On Carlo Ancelotti (above) and the Miracle of Istanbul
"He’s old and he hasn’t won anything. I studied Italian five hours a day for many months to ensure I could communicate with the players, media and fans. Ranieri had been in England for five years and still struggled to say ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon."
- On former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri (above)
"I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea."
- On Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (above) In 2005, the beginning of a long feud
"Guardiola is a fantastic coach but I have won two Champions Leagues. He has won (only) one Champions League and that is one that would embarrass me. I would be ashamed to have won it with the scandal of Stamford Bridge, and if he wins it this year, it will be with the scandal of the Bernabeu. "
- On then Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola (above) in 2011. Guardiola won his second Champions League that year