4 times Jose Mourinho riled up Liverpool
Of all the English football rivalries that Mourinho has been a part of since joining Chelsea in 2004, the one with Liverpool has arguably been the most intense.
Shushing the f̶a̶n̶s̶ press | 2005
There was a time when Mourinho’s baiting contributed to his sassy personality, rather than the cynical, sultry figure he is more viewed as now.
The dash down the touchline to celebrate Porto’s late winner at Old Trafford in 2004 was his breakthrough moment in England, while sprinting across the Nou Camp turf at the end of the 2010 semi-final with Inter was still a pre-world-weary Mourinho act.
His shushing in the 2005 League Cup final was another of those occasions.
Steven Gerrard’s own goal – in the week that he was alleged to have agreed to join the Blues – drew the game level, and prompted Mourinho to apparently turn towards the Liverpool supporters behind the dugout with his finger pressed to his lips. The Liverpool supporters, unsurprisingly, were furious.
Yet Mourinho later claimed that his gesture had been aimed at the press, who “had tried to take confidence from us” after recent defeats at Newcastle and Barcelona.
A likely story, except that not only were the press nowhere near Mourinho’s dugout, they were not even seated on that side of the stadium.
Attack on Rafa Benitez | 2007
Now we’re getting into the good stuff.
Considering that Mourinho and Benitez have both managed Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid, you might expect them see eye-to-eye a little more than they do.
Their relationship already strained by the above incident – they failed to shake hands at the 2006 Community Shield – Mourinho snapped ahead of another Champions League semi-final match-up between the two in April 2007.
“Three years without a Premiership? You would have to ask the board, but I don’t think I would still have a job,” he said, as you can guess, with pure contempt.
“In the last years, you can see that they only succeed in knockout competitions.”
To quote Benitez, these are facts. Liverpool won the tie and progressed to the final.
“They wanted the clowns” | 2014
Mourinho put on such an exhibition of Mourinho-ness around the fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea in April 2014 that it could warrant its own 1,000 words of analysis.
Liverpool were just three wins away from the Premier League title. With fans ready to line the streets, a raucous atmosphere developing at Anfield and even most neutrals on their side, sucking the joy out of this occasion required Mourinho at his peak.
But which element of this masterclass justifies most focus?
Claiming he was sick, travelling separately to the ground, and appearing unkempt, unshaven and apparently uncaring was the warm-up.
Further feigning indifference by handing Tomas Kalas a league debut in defence and then shielding him with Jon Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic was the intricate setup.
Instructing his side to waste time from minute one, inspiring his side to need to ruin Liverpool’s big day, was the punchline.
But bashing his chest with his fist and walking down the tunnel shouting “They wanted the clowns! They wanted the clowns!” after his side had secured a 2-0 victory that ruined Liverpool’s chances was the hysterical encore.
Ruined ‘Red Monday’ | 2016
By this time, Mourinho’s primary motivation seemed simply to deliver whatever was contrary to public appetite.
In October 2016, Sky built up a Monday night Liverpool v Manchester United fixture – Mourinho’s first in charge of United – to absurd proportions, posting a countdown clock in the bottom corner of the Sky Sports News screen days in advance and branding it ‘Red Monday’.
It quickly turned into one of the most highly-anticipated games in recent Premier League history.
On that basis, Mourinho thought it best set up his team so negatively that each viewer’s intrigue deteriorated to the point where they probably switched over to Coronation Street. Bar one second-half chance for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his side barely crossed the halfway line in the dullest of dull 0-0 draws, with several of the tactics reminiscent of the victory with Chelsea described above.
Mourinho declared afterwards that United had “controlled the game tactically”, code for something very different.
The rest of us were left to debate whether Mourinho’s tactics were justified, how he motivated his players to play that way, and whether Sky Sports News should be abolished.
Visit Betway's football betting page.