Loathe him or loathe him, Jose Mourinho is the football world’s undisputed master of the passive-aggressive putdown.
Over the years, his snide asides have ruffled the feathers of several of his closest competitors and, in light of his recent remarks about Antonio Conte, it’s clear that he has no intention of scaling back the verbosity.
At a recent press conference, Mourinho responded to an unflattering comment from the Italian with a typically sardonic quip about the Chelsea manager’s formerly bald pate.
“I could answer in many different ways but I’m not going to lose my hair to speak about Antonio Conte,” smirked Mourinho, casually running a hand through his own lustrous locks.
Hackles will certainly have been raised on the back of Conte’s freshly hirsute neck, but he’s hardly the first to have suffered from the attention of the Mourinho wit.
Here, we run down some of the Special One’s most memorable putdowns.
‘This is football from the 19th Century’
Ah, Big Sam Allardici. The greatest tactical mastermind of the millennium, and a man known for the thrilling, flamboyant football played by his teams.
Allardyce, who may or may not be the most successful England manager of the past 50 years, has captivated all and sundry by developing a brand of the game so intricate that it makes tiki-taka look like route one.
So it was a mystery to everyone bar Jose Mourinho when the Portuguese manager called out the then-West Ham boss for his tactical neanderthalism.
“This is not the best league in the world, this is football from the 19th Century,” grumbled Mourinho in the aftermath of a nil-all draw with the Hammers.
Jose’s side had mustered 39 efforts on goal, yet were unable to break the Victorian-style deadlock employed by Allardyce.
“The only [other] thing I could bring was a Black and Decker [tool] to destroy the wall,” he added.
The response from Sam was pretty much what you’d expect:
“He can’t take it, can he? He can’t take it because we’ve outwitted him – he just can’t cope.”
For much of his career in England, Mourinho has trained his sights on one specific target.
Arsène Wenger has served as the bony object of his ire for so long that it’s a miracle we’ve only included two of the multitude of barbs Mourinho has aimed at the Frenchman.
Back when the former Porto manager first arrived in the UK, Wenger was, along with Alex Ferguson, one of the two biggest fromages on the Premier League cheeseboard.
Consequently, Mourinho spent much of his time attempting to slice the Professor down to a more manageable size. Perhaps the most famous example of this came in 2005, during his first spell as Chelsea manager.
“I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur,” grinned the Chelsea manager. “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.”
Le Specialist in Failure
Over the past decade or so, Arsène Wenger hasn’t won all that many trophies. So, helpful soul that he is, Mourinho elected to remind him of this shortly after returning to England for his second stint at Stamford Bridge.
“Eight years without silverware, that’s failure,” quipped Jose in February 2014.
“He’s a specialist in failure. If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don’t come back.”
The following year, with his side languishing in lower mid-table, Mourinho was sacked as Blues manager, and has yet to come back.
Rafa Benitez’s poor nutritional choices
In case you hadn’t noticed, Rafa Benítez is a rotund individual, while Jose Mourinho is not.
And, as the more cruel skinny people tend to do, the Special One proved himself more than willing to point that out.
Having copped that he was receiving flak from Montse Benítez, Rafa’s wife, about her husband having to constantly “clean up” Jose’s mess, Mourinho responded with a jibe about the former Liverpool coach’s waistline.
“If she takes care of her husband’s diet she will have less time to speak about me.”
Crass though the comment was, it had the desired effect of abruptly bringing an end to the conversation.
Jose is happy for Arsenal fans. No really.
Who doesn’t love to be patronised?
After Arsenal defeated his Manchester United side 2-0 in May this year, a not-in-any-way embittered Jose Mourinho professed his satisfaction at seeing the joy on the faces of the Arsenal fans leaving the stadium.
“Finally today they sing, they swing the scarves. It’s nice for them.”
He added: “It is the first time I leave and they are happy. Before they were walking the streets with their heads low.
“The Arsenal fans are happy and I am happy for them.”
How very magnanimous.
Apparently, Karim Benzema is a cat
One of Mourinho’s more surreal analogies is also one of his most memorable.
Back in 2010, while managing Réal Madrid, Jose found himself in the midst of a mild injury crisis among his attackers. And so he began demanding reinforcements up front, despite Karim Benzema being fully fit and available for selection.
For whatever reason, Mourinho simply didn’t trust the French striker, and made his feelings clear with a fairly withering assessment of the situation.
“If I can’t hunt with a dog, I will hunt with a cat,” he said.
“With a dog you hunt more and you hunt better. But if you have not got a dog and you have got a cat, you hunt with a cat.”
Benzema, it seemed, was something of a kitten in his coach’s eyes. But several months down the line, things had changed. All of a sudden, he’d found some form and – most importantly for Jose – had even begun to track back.
“I’m not a cat any more,” smiled Benzema, three months after Mourinho’s quote. “Now, I’m a lion.”