There’s something about those moments when Jose Mourinho takes aim at Arsene Wenger that cause a swift intake of breath through the teeth. It’s as though one of those old-timey war alarms has sounded and United fans have to get to the nearest bunker.
What follows is usually akin to a man throwing a stone, it slipping from his hand, flying straight up in the air, then just as he rests his hands on his hips in puzzlement it comes back down and plonks him on the head.
There is no victory to be had for the more often than not disgruntled-one, as ultimately the discourse will inevitably revert to talk of ‘class’, of no-look handshakes and other very uniquely football-ey issues.
But if you can for one moment cast aside the set-in-stone “he’s gone crackers mate!” narrative, you might find that a point Mourinho made pre-match was actually, while also serving to further scrunch the Portuguese’s face, proved true.
Yes, when the Manchester United manager shone a light on the difference in treatment of him and the Frenchman from the press and footballing world, little did he know that as soon as the post-match reaction would he be proved correct.
Oliver Giroud’s goal saved Wenger’s men from perhaps their most insipid defeat in Premier League history. Sure, it would have only been 1-0, but the manner in which Arsenal played would have snakes gleefully informing them how little backbone they possessed.
And yet, I didn’t hear the distant cries of football purists, nor the figurative death rattle of football itself. Where were those people who post-Monday Night Football semi-Armageddon v Liverpool were accusing Mourinho of being the beautiful game’s tormenter in chief?
The sheer indignation of United keeping it tight and trying to nick a win at Anfield was met with widespread outrage, in fact Donald Trump probably looked on thinking “well at least it won’t get that bad”. But it just seemed to drift on by that Wenger’s men had essentially done the exact same thing, and until Giroud’s goal, which came out of nowhere, did a worse job of it.
It’s when you realise this that you have to think, despite his overly-perturbed tone when speaking of the Arsenal manager(and his loose grasp of numeracy where Wenger’s last title is concerned), that he may just have a point.
But the worst thing he can do is feed the machine with provocative quotes and combative sound-bites. It’s a genuine concern that Mourinho’s need to stoke the fires of the footballing press take precedent over the stability of the football club he manages, however one can imagine the frustration.
United’s first-in-command feels he sees a healthy number of elephants in the room that no one else acknowledges. As though he is inside the matrix, shouting in people’s faces that’s something’s not right, and all that comes back is “You know what Jose, you’ve got no class.”
You have to hope for Jose’s sake that these dominating draws at Old Trafford, such as the ones against Burnley and Stoke City, soon convert themselves in to wins.
Otherwise, while United continue to trail the top four, we may spend the next six months stuck in the current Groundhog Day inspired loop of angry Mourinho feeding both his own hate filled heart, while simultaneously warming the heart of United’s rivals.