Jose says he's special and happy, but he's mainly committed to winning
The biggest challenge of Roberto Martinez’s brief L4 reign presents itself this weekend in the shape of Jose Mourinho, previously known as ‘The Special One’.
The Portuguese began a careful re-positioning exercise earlier this year designed to reinvent himself as a more humble character or ‘The Happy One’.
In reality he hasn’t changed much, he has just added new psychological strings to his bow to avoid detection.
He is a still chief exponent of condescending praise when he has won, and tiresome sourness when he doesn’t get his own way. When the heat is on - as it was recently against old foe Guardiola in the Super Cup – Mourinho proved he is still as bad a loser as ever.
That said, he remains the best manager in world football and remains the top dog in his trade, with his 71% win ratio still the Premier League benchmark.
Perhaps the ‘evil genius’ would be a more accurate description.
His diligence and ability to exploit opponent’s weakness both in the dugout and out on the pitch, whilst maximising his own playing staff to its full potential, is as good as it gets.
In terms of this weekend’s game, Mourinho will care little if we look to control possession as we have done in the opening fixtures.
In fact I believe he will look to exploit this with his selection.
En route to his second Champions League title his side famously overcome a Barcelona possession barrage of 78% with only ten men to make it through to the final.
He inherited a superb squad but one perhaps lacking in counter attacking speed. This has been reflected in his retention of De Bruyne and the acquisitions of Schurrle and Willian.
He will look at quick transitions in wide areas as the best way of turning us over.
Is there an area we can look to exploit? That’s a trickier question as his squad has so few weak links.
Last season Moyes targeted Azpilicueta’s aerial deficiencies at right back, sticking Anichebe on the left wing and playing diagonals onto the Spaniard for Anichebe to win and then hoover up the second balls in dangerous areas.
Noticeably, Azpilicueta has been on the fringes of things since Mourinho returned.
I think the likely central defensive axis of Cahill and Terry is a tad too immobile and susceptible to decent movement. I also think we will get more space to operate in comparison to our initial four games against sides that have been happy to retain shape and defend en masse.
Mourinho’s sides have more of a fluidity in shape which should present us with more space and hopefully this will enable us to claim our first three point haul of the season and send Jose away as ‘The Pointless One’.