When my young daughter has had a long day and time’s getting on, she might start to get a little frustrated with things. Point out to her that she might be tired and the reply is forceful: "I’m not tired". This is accompanied by tears, and shouting, maybe even stamped feet. And ten minutes later she’s fast asleep – she was tired after all. It’s quite cute really, and she’ll no doubt grow out of it soon.
All of this came to mind when I heard the remarks of a football manager claiming he’s not upset. Although there were no tears, the way of the denial was so similar. I think he’s upset.
Jose Mourinho enjoys talking to the press. His self-imposed ban on anyone from Chelsea speaking to the press came to an end at Liverpool Airport yesterday – although UEFA rules say that each club must attend a press conference, so he had little choice. Now he wants the world to believe that his club are hard-done-to.
He gets upset by what he reads in the papers, and what new Reds striker Peter Crouch had said wasn’t going to go by unmentioned: "I read Peter Crouch say that tonight and Sunday it will be England against Chelsea, but I think it is the world against Chelsea. It’s the Fulham Road, the Kings Road and my place in Portugal, only a small place of 50,000, and apart from that the world is against us. People want us to lose all the time."
If you have any mournful violin music to hand you might want to put it on before reading any more. The boss of the richest club in the league said: "When Manchester United dominated the Premiership, it was not boring, when Arsenal dominated the Premiership it was not boring. We don’t dominate, we’ve just won, er," (he had to ask for help here),"seven matches and it’s boring! This is just another match for us. It is the game of everybody else’s life but not our lives.”
In fact the man with the coat seemed to be a little too strong in his claims that this match was no more important than any other. Just another match? "For me it’s just another game, but if you want to talk about revenge, we’re winning 3-1. In five matches, we have beaten them three times, they beat us once and we drew once. The game in Anfield where everybody says they beat us was, I think, a zero-zero draw." In the history books, the record is clear. Last season the teams met five times. Two league games ended 1-0 to Chelsea. One Carling Cup game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes, 3-2 after extra time. In the Champions League, a 0-0 draw preceded a Liverpool 1-0 win.
Mourinho likes to claim that Liverpool didn’t win at Anfield though – the goal shouldn’t have stood: "Using simple technology we could put a stop to wrong decisions. The use of chip technology in the ball – which works through the transmission of a sound signal – would confirm if the ball crossed the line or not. It is so simple to resolve and yet these errors keep happening. It is not a case of blaming referees, it’s not about demanding 20/20 vision or supersonic reactions from the referees’ assistants. But in this multi-million pound business it is imperative that pivotal decisions stand up to scrutiny."
In fact since that night, a video taken by a spectator using a camera-phone came to light, which shows the ball over the line. Different bits of technology used to "prove" the ball didn’t cross the line have since been proven as flawed. Yet Jose likes to be selective with his memory. And his memory of that night really, really hurts him. He may deny it, but he is more bitter than an Evertonian about the defeat that night. He continued: "Liverpool didn’t score in the semi-final against us but I accept they beat us. They played in the final and we stayed at home, so of course I accept it. I was upset at that time but not any more. They beat us but they didn’t score. I will say that for all my life but it doesn’t mean I am sad. There are certain highlights in your career that you never forget and I won’t forget the goal nobody saw."
Chelsea’s silence in the build up to the game has been balanced by a lot of confident talk from Anfield. Not the talk of cocky arrogance, but the talk of a group of people who know they can win if they perform to their capabilities. A team not prepared, like many Chelsea opponents, to believe they have lost before they’ve even got onto the pitch. Mourinho referred to an interview given by the injured Reds striker Fernando Morientes, where he’d said that Liverpool and Betis could be the teams to go through. Jose again wasn’t happy: "I read somewhere that they know how to beat us, but as I say, it’s 3-1, so they also know how to lose. Morientes doesn’t upset me. Maybe he’s being nice to Betis, thinking about his future. When Liverpool don’t want him, it’s a good club for him to go back to." For someone not upset he sounds remarkably so.
Continuing in the same tone in his attempts at pretending he wasn’t upset, Jose tried to have a go at a player he spent most of last season trying to court. When Steven Gerrard announced after the Champions League final that he wanted to stay, the talk from Chelsea was that they didn’t want him anyway. When Liverpool announced Gerrard hadn’t signed a deal, it transpired Chelsea had now made a bid of around £32million to sign the player the didn’t want. Gerrard then turned them down – again – and is going to be playing for the Reds tonight. Jose’s not upset though remember: "Did you ask Steven Gerrard if he remembers the goal he scored for us in Cardiff. I think the boy will never forget that.”
The truth is that Gerrard’s disappointment in Cardiff was well and truly eclipsed by what happened in the Champions League. Chelsea have lost four away games in a row in that competition, and Mourinho has to accept that Rafa Benitez isn’t too bad a manager: "I think Rafa is special and I like him very much as a colleague, as a person,” Mourinho said. “He had success in Valencia, with Liverpool in Europe and won trophies. I won the Uefa Cup and Champions League in successive years, he did the same. We are lucky. I don’t believe Ferguson is under pressure. Because somebody booed? He’s not under pressure. The man under pressure will be the next Manchester United manager when he leaves one day. That’s the man under pressure."
Back to that goal at Anfield last season, and the linesman that night was happy with his decision, even now he has no problem with it. However Mourinho’s continued verbal assaults on officials means he doesn’t expect to be involved in any more games involving Chelsea. Roman Slysko was the man with the flag that night, he says: "I did not enjoy being the centre of attention. I never spoke to Mourinho or anyone from Chelsea about the goal, but I do not expect to do any of their games in Europe this season. I don’t think the UEFA referees committee would send us. It could be taken as a provocation and too controversial."
And Slysko says that Mourinho would have nothing to complain about had technology been available that night: "It would have saved a lot of arguments, but for me the decision I made was and still is correct. I am not sorry about it."
Maybe Mourinho would have found something else to complain about instead then though. Something else not to be upset about.