Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville believes Mourinho’s jibe at Chelsea being a ‘very defensive’ side is motivated by jealousy of how well they have done in comparison to when he was their manager.
Mourinho has been known to resort to mind games with direct rivals before and this is an indication that he feels confident his team can catch up on Chelsea. Neville, however, believes history is at play here.
“He’s probably envious,” Neville told Sky Sports, “probably saying it as a compliment, because when I watch Chelsea, they look balanced to me, the right mix of what you would like.
“I’ve never watched Chelsea this season and thought they were really boring. I’ve seen them go away to City and be absolutely outstanding. I’ve seen them be resilient when they needed to be, I’ve seen them play great football.”
Mourinho got the sack at Chelsea in 2015 after his team flirted with the relegation zone following an abysmal start of the season. Paradoxically, Mourinho’s comments strangely remind of a ‘defensive’ side of his that won his first Premier League title in 2005.
“When I’ve watched [Chelsea] this season,” Neville continued, “they have a look of a team that’s got the right balance, and if Jose Mourinho is saying that, maybe he is being a little bit mischievous, but he’ll be thinking that is the balance of a champion team.
“Jose will be searching for that balance, understanding that at United you need to be a little bit more expansive in the way in which he plays.”
United are on a 17-game undefeated run and have not conceded a goal in three matches, but still find themselves trailing by 12 points to the Blues.