Why Jose Mourinho should be wary ahead of Saturday's meeting with Claudio Ranieri
Jose Mourinho is a one man soap opera who has clashed with almost every manager in the league. He has an interesting past with his opposite number this weekend, after replacing Claudio Ranieri as Chelsea manager in 2004. At the time, Roman Abramovich decided that Ranieri wasn’t good enough to win league titles and that he needed to bring in a better coach to lead the Chelsea revolution. This has added an edge to the relationship between the two men and the Italian has upped his game whenever he has come up against Mourinho.
Manchester United desperately need to arrest the slide that has involved three losses in their last four matches in all competitions. It is a terrible run that has led to questions being raised about Mourinho’s ability to take United back to the top of the table. He will know that he needs a positive result against Ranieri’s Leicester City, but recent history suggests that he may struggle.
The Portuguese manager has not won any of his last four league meetings against a team led by Claudio Ranieri, including two defeats in the last two games. This is a concerning stat, especially as Mourinho has been managing the traditionally bigger sides. It was the defeat against Leicester before Christmas last season that was the final straw for the 53-year-old at Chelsea. Despite his recent arrival, a similar result this weekend will increase the pressure on Mourinho significantly. He did triumph over Ranieri during his first match in charge of Manchester United, but it was a glorified friendly and he will be keen to set the record straight in the Premier League.
Ranieri has been talking about his relationship with the man that replaced him at Chelsea all those years ago. He has said that the bad blood with Mourinho is long gone and that he now gets on well with his United counterpart.
“Yes, but it’s prehistoric, not now. It [their relationship] is fantastic, very good, no problems, why?”
“Do you remember in the summer when we had the Soccer Aid, I managed the Rest of the World team against Jose’s English side.”
“It [the issues] was a long time ago, I’m okay. All managers have a lot of jobs to do. It’s normal, he’s a great manager and a fantastic person.”
Since taking over at Leicester, Ranieri has revived his reputation in England and has been linked to several top jobs over the last 12 months. He is seen as one of the nicest men in the game and it is unsurprising that he wants to move on from the problems he has had with Mourinho in the past. The pair seemed to get on well during Soccer Aid, but now the Portuguese manager is back in the Premier League, he may initiate mind games once more.
There could be a sense of jealousy from Mourinho, as his reputation is at an all-time low, while Ranieri has just won the Premier League and is now seen as a top coach once more. The Leicester manager has overseen one of the greatest achievements in the history of sport and Mourinho has nothing comparable on his CV. As the season progresses, the Manchester United will clash with many of his peers and Ranieri could be amongst them.
Mourinho has finally got the job of his dreams, but a rocky period after the international break has left him needing a win this weekend. They are at home and should beat Leicester, despite his poor record against Ranieri. The champions have looked less formidable without Ngolo Kante and have struggled against the bigger sides in the division, such as Arsenal and Liverpool. I think the Manchester United manager should be able to put an end to his poor run of results against Ranieri, but it is an unwanted distraction this weekend nevertheless.
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