Meeting with Thomas Tuchel will motivate Jose Mourinho: Neil Humphreys
The Special One loves to embarrass new kids on the block, and the new Chelsea boss is now in his sights
Like a cornered dog, Jose Mourinho is at his best - and worst - when his position feels threatened.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager and the concept of disrespect are effectively a snoozing stray and a stick. Poke at him for long enough and there will be a reaction.
The latest stick has a name. Thomas Tuchel.
Previously, the sticks were called things like "Brendan Rodgers" and "Juergen Klopp", named after the new kids mocking old man Mourinho.
They weren't. They never did. The disrespect for the grandee of English Premier League management never existed in reality, only in his head. But Mourinho must wave three fingers in the air, remind his perceived enemies of those EPL titles and demand something that was never taken away.
He wants respect. He craves it. He thrives on the constant, imagined threat that someone is always trying to take it away, someone like Tuchel at Chelsea.
In Mourinho's mind, Tuchel will want Mourinho's scalp first and three points for the Blues second when the two sides meet tomorrow morning (Singapore time). As always, the siege mentality must be fuelled from within.
We've been here before, more than once.
In 2014, the disregard was supposedly coming from Rodgers. Mourinho's old Chelsea assistant now had the audacity to consider himself a title contender at Liverpool, the former pupil poised to humiliate the teacher.
No further motivation was necessary for Mourinho.
Famously, he turned up at Anfield, unshaved, unbrushed and seemingly unwired, but it was all a smokescreen.
In the dressing room, he fell back on his favourite motivator. Chelsea had been disrespected in the media's "Liverpool circus". He demanded at least two bookings for time-wasting before half-time.
Everyone remembers Steven Gerrard's slip. But Chelsea's relentless hounding made the slip possible.
In 2017, Groundhog Day returned when Klopp's Reds hosted Mourinho's Manchester United.
Klopp was the latest new kid in town, oozing the charm of an obvious heir apparent. He brought self-confidence. So Mourinho brought buses.
One of the worst 0-0 draws in living memory was topped off with defensive winger Ashley Young being substituted in the 93rd minute. Victor Lindelof replaced him, an act which felt like one in the eye for both Klopp and the game itself.
There can never be enough buses when Mourinho's self-respect is at stake.
And so to tomorrow morning's London Derby and a fixture that has the whiff of deja vu and something more pungent if the result does not go Spurs' way.
Mourinho faces a younger European technocrat with a mandate to brush aside yesterday's men and forge a path to the summit. Does any of this sound familiar? A red rag and a Portuguese bull come to mind.
Mourinho will be feverishly choreographing the most defensive, cautious and stifling Tottenham performance in recent times, which is quite the challenge after the wretched defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Without Harry Kane, poor Steven Bergwijn clutched the short straw marked "No. 9". He saw less of the ball than the injured Kane.
Whoever gets the thankless task against Chelsea might as well take along last year's receipts and work on his tax returns. He'll have nothing else to do.
Tanguy Ndombele, a pivotal presence, picked up a knock at Brighton. Son Heung-min was left isolated. Gareth Bale should've been left in the dressing room.
In such situations, Mourinho rarely goes for broke. He goes for buses.
The Tottenham manager has never lost two EPL matches in a row at home. The thought of Tuchel, the latest interloper with an eye on usurping Mourinho, handing him such an unwanted record is too much to bear.
He'll happily win ugly. He'll even draw ugly, as long as he doesn't lose his self-respect.