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Battle of the Bosses: Mourinho went into full trolling mode after Anfield draw

Battle of the Bosses: Mourinho went into full trolling mode after Anfield draw

18/10/2016 at 15:11

Jose Mourinho goes on the wind-up - who'd have thought it? Well, as Graham Ruthven explains, just about everybody.

Getting out-tacticked

Ronald Koeman was once Pep Guardiola’s mentor at Barcelona and that dynamic returned at the weekend, with Everton holding Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium. The Dutchman would have ruffled Guardiola’s hair at full time if he had any.

Ronald Koeman and Pep Guardiola

Ronald Koeman and Pep GuardiolaReuters

Of course, had City practiced penalties beforehand they most likely would have claimed three points, with Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero both missing from 12 yards. Everton, at times, rode their luck on the way to snatching a point against the Premier League title favourites.

And yet there was something very deliberate about the way Everton became the first team to get a result at the Etihad Stadium this season. While most sides have sat deep against City, hoping to plug the gaps at the back, the Toffees kept the faith in their own attacking capabilities, pushing forward when they had the ball and pressing hard when they didn’t. Koeman might still be the mentor.

The gaffer tapes

“They were very cautious,” Jose Mourinho claimed after Monday night’s goalless draw between Liverpool and Manchester United. “They kept always Can and Henderson in position. They had only one player behind the three more offensive players. I think it was their intention to try and control us, which they also did well.”

It was quite an achievement that Mourinho managed to keep the smirk off his face while making such a claim. After all, it was he, not Jurgen Klopp, who had set up his team to be cautious, allowing Liverpool to dictate the contest. The hosts made twice as many passes as United, completely undermining Mourinho’s point. But he knows what he’s doing. The Premier League’s resident troll was trolling.

Mind games corner

Ashley Young hadn’t started a Premier League game since January, so it was rather surprising to see his name on the Man Utd team sheet for Monday’s match at Anfield. What did Mourinho have up his sleeve (other than a predictably expensive watch)?

As it turned out, Young was included purely for his crossing ability, with United looking to rediscover the spirit of that glorious David Moyes display in 2014, when they attempted a record 81 crosses and emerged with just a point. On this occasion it worked in the first half, with the visitors the better of the two teams, but Mourinho lacked a plan B and Young turned into the lagging embodiment of United’s failure to adapt as the game changed.

Ashley Young and Jose Mourinho at Anfield.

Ashley Young and Jose Mourinho at Anfield.AFP

Feud of the week

The instant recoil and quiet consideration was the first indication that Guardiola had been asked a question he didn’t like following City’s home draw with Everton. It had been put to him that the famed intensity of the Premier League, compared with the “recovery session” pace of La Liga, would give Barcelona an advantage for the Champions League meeting between the two clubs this week.

Nope, this wasn’t a parody of Premier League ignorance; it was a real question and Guardiola gave it the treatment it deserved. "I hear a lot of times about the intensity in the Premier League when none of you have been in La Liga or the Bundesliga to know how intense it is," he said. The media are providing Guardiola with more of a rivalry than United at the moment.

Horrible bosses

Any Leicester City fan who hasn’t set their eyes on the Premier League trophy in blue and yellow ribbons better get a picture with it soon. It’s now safe to say the Foxes probably won’t successfully defend their title this season, with their 3-0 defeat at Chelsea suggesting that they might be more concerned with things at the bottom of the table than the top.

With every passing game Claudio Ranieri must surely ponder how retirement after winning the Premier League could have seen him ride off into the sunset as an almost mythical figure, like Sir Alex Ferguson or Gunnersaurus. Instead his legacy at Leicester is being blown apart. The romance has disappeared in this cynical world.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with the club's friendly mascot

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with the club's friendly mascotReuters

The chief

Eddie Howe is the great white hope of English football management. If the FA decides not to hand the national team job to a man synonymous with major tournament failure (sorry Gareth, that’s you) then the Bournemouth boss has been tipped by many as a possible candidate. More so now after his side’s thumping 6-1 win over Hull City.

Of course, whether you consider a Bournemouth win over a team that have only just appointed a manager two months into the season to be the mark of a national-team manager is another matter, but Howe’s stock has never been higher. And with his cherub looks he would appear to be the antithesis of Sam Allardyce. He won’t even use his phone in the petrol station!

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