So another week and Jose Mourinho is once again all over the newspaper headlines for his antics. Following hot on the heels of calling into question the integrity of Anthony Taylor for the game at Anfield a couple of weeks ago; he has now received a further fine and a touchline ban after being sent to the stands by Mark Clattenberg for an incident around the tunnel area during half-time of Saturday’s goalless draw with Burnley. While we are all too familiar with antics of this ilk from Mourinho and his barely veiled tactic of diverting the focus of attention away from the performance of his team; this time it does feel a little different.
When Mourinho first pitched up in the Premier League there was a cockiness and swagger blended with a cutting wit that smacked of a manager and man completely in control of things, who knew exactly what he was doing and taking on with each carefully selected sound-bite. Ever since the Eva Carneiro incident at the start of last season and the subsequent capitulation of his reigning champions; it has increasingly felt that Mourinho’s behaviour is a reflection of a man who feels that things may be getting away from him. Increasingly his histrionics hint of desperation, of trying anything he can think of to try and spark his team into form, yet week by week the situation worsens. With only four wins out of ten league games alongside sputtering form in Europe it is starting to look like he may no longer have all the answers. Certainly failure to win at Swansea this weekend would ramp up the pressure going into the international break.
In non-Mourinho related news, the front runners all won, Spurs continued to struggle in front of goal and will be desperate for the return of Harry Kane, although personally I will be hoping that it is not for another week; and Middlesbrough finally gave their fans some reason for optimism with their first win in eight games.
In the Champions League City provided a glimpse of how good they might become under Guardiola by getting revenge over Barcelona with a performance that laid down a marker to the continent’s big guns, Leicester edged closer to qualification for the knockout stages, Mezut Özil secured Arsenal’s qualification with an audaciously brilliant goal, while Tottenham continued to suffer the Wembley woes.
The standout fixture for the upcoming weekend is the North London Derby which over recent seasons has proven nigh on impossible to predict; at least for those of us having to forego our usual Sunday morning routine for a 12 o’clock kick off it promises to be a fascinating clash. Everton’s trip to Stamford Bridge should prove intriguing and a real test of the Toffees’ aspirations this season.