Embittered by his rejection for the manager’s job in 2008, Jose Mourinho seems to take great pride in his staunch anti-Barcelona-ism, but recent years have seen his secret, yet undying affection for the Catalan club rear its head.
After missing out on the Blaugrana hotseat to Pep Guardiola, a coach whose commitment to entertaining football was responsible for delivering some of the greatest championship-winning teams of all time, the Special One headed to Serie A, where he led Inter to a treble in his second and final season in charge.
Upon knocking Barca out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage en route to completing the Nerazzurri’s title mine sweep, Mourinho ran around the Nou Camp pitch as though his sides’ away goals success was the single greatest achievement in the history of human kind, let alone football.
This was the first outward display of animosity towards the club with whom he cut his coaching teeth as an assistant to first Sir Bobby Robson then Louis van Gaal.
In the post-match interview he claimed he’d never coach Barcelona, underlining the reason for the terrace animosity directed towards him:
“If I never beat them, they wouldn’t hate me,” he said, after a result that left his win count against this foe at an almighty two from ten meetings.
Following his attempt to instil some ‘Mourinho the Barcelona slayer’ hype, the Portuguese took the reins at Real Madrid, tasked to dethrone the Catalan club as the dominant force in La Liga.
With one title win to Barca’s two during his three-year tenure at the Bernabeu, he no doubt considers this mission accomplished.
But after leaving Real in acrimonious fashion – he fell out with just about every first team and boardroom member – his steadfast hatred of the Catalan outfit has seemingly softened.
Last summer saw him splash out £30m to bring Cesc Fabregas, educated at Barca’s La Masia and an embodiment of their possession-obsession footballing brand, to Chelsea.
The Spanish schemer’s name was instantly scribbled on to every blank team sheet to hand, as Mourinho acknowledged his side couldn’t win trophies without a playmaking master, the best of which are harvested in Barcelona.
Intent on retaining the crown won 12 months ago – a feat the Blues are available to achieve at 27/20 – the Special One is seeking more firepower and he hopes another Nou Camp favourite will provide it.
After adding Radamel Falcao to the artillery, Mourinho hopes to lure wide man Pedro to Stamford Bridge by meeting his £22m release clause, or so say reports in Spain.
Having two La Masia-schooled operatives orchestrating assaults on more titles would represent a sizeable step away from the unwavering anti-Barcelona standpoint Mourinho has demonstrated in recent years, so maybe that coaching position at the Nou Camp is beginning to appeal once again.