Gary Lim: Jose, you hypocrite
Man United boss Mourinho's swipe at Conte smacks of hypocrisy
The praise has gotten to his head.
Except that the praise was for Antonio Conte, and the jealousy-filled head was Jose Mourinho's.
After Manchester United beat Leicester City 3-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time), the Portuguese took a thinly veiled swipe at Conte, the current manager of his old club.
Suddenly, Mourinho, the man who inspired chants of "boring, boring Chelsea" in the stands during his two stints as Blues manager, has become an authority on attacking football.
Conte, in Mourinho's mind, is merely a prosaic Italian ruled by pragmatism, and getting away with defensive football.
"My team is playing very well but, for many years in my career, especially in this country, when my teams were ruthless and phenomenal defensively, I listened week after week to people saying that was not enough, despite winning the title three times," Mourinho said in the post-match press conference, recalling his stints at Stamford Bridge.
"This season, it looks that being strong defensively and good on the counter-attack is art. That is a big change in England.
"We are Manchester United, we want to play attacking football. This is the way the fans want us to play.
"But I don't want to be a manager of a team that doesn't win matches.
"We have to score goals. Today, we did and that made the difference. Today was very important."
The Delusional One should take a look at the league table.
This season, it looks that being strong defensively and good on the counter-attack is art. That is a big change in England.Man United manager Jose Mourinho taking a swipe at Chelsea’s Antonio Conte
Chelsea are nine points clear at the top of the Premiership and a whopping 14 points ahead of Man United.
The last time both sides met last October, the Red Devils went home with their tails between their legs after a 4-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge.
Instead of giving Conte credit for turning the Blues' season around with his tweaked formation and tactics, Mourinho chose to take a swipe at the Italian.
He clearly doesn't remember how his best teams operated back in the days when his sides embraced the philosophy of grinding out results week in, week out.
Defensive football in itself is an art, and Mourinho is the master of it.
On many occasions, he took it to the extreme, packing his own penalty box and making no apologies for it.
But, like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger once said, big clubs have a responsibility to win in style.
For an English Premier League force such as Chelsea, bankrolled by the money of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, constantly adopting a defensive approach didn't sit well with many people when Mourinho won three Premiership crowns during his two spells there (2004-2007 and 2013-2015).
The "boring" tag was one which irked Mourinho incessantly, and one which he couldn't shake off.
The criticism of his style eased off only after he took over Man United last May.
He is right in saying that attacking football is a must at Old Trafford.
The job description at Man United demands it.
Following the disastrous and sleep-inducing football implemented by Dutchman Louis van Gaal, the long-suffering supporters were crying out for a return to the cutting-edge stuff.
To his credit, Mourinho has turned Man United's fortunes around after a difficult start.
The win over the troubled Foxes yesterday morning narrowed the Red Devils' gap on the top four to two points.
The Red Devils are unbeaten in the league since last October, and have won eight of their last 15 Premiership matches.
While they haven't been exactly breathing fire in the final third of the field, they have been helped by many moments of genius from Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Tasked to flex his offensive muscles, Mourinho is slowly shedding his reputation as a defensive-minded manager.
But, to conveniently bury his past and then dish out criticism at a rival manager, like how he used to receive them, is a new low.