There's a method to everything Jose Mourinho does, so when he says he cares very little for what Andre Villas-Boas thinks about him and their relationship, we know it's quite the opposite.
In an intriguing press conference ahead of Chelsea's trip to White Hart Lane to face Villas-Boas' Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, Mourinho brushed aside any questions about his relationship with his former protege, attempting to downgrade the significance of their first meeting as managers.
"Will it be any sweeter if my team beat his [Villas-Boas]? No," he was quoted as saying in the Evening Standard. "I managed a Champions League Final against a manager [Louis van Gaal] who was important in my career and taught me to grow up and I did it in a professional way. And that is a way you have to do it."
Much is made of Mourinho's tactics with the media and he was on fine form once again. For a man seemingly reluctant to comment, the Portuguese targeted plenty of thinly veiled insults at his compatriot, reminding him who is No. 1 around these parts.
In a few short sentences he outlined their differences as coaches, that he has won European titles, even overcoming his very own mentor in the process. In contrast, Villas-Boas is getting his opportunity for one-upmanship on Mourinho merely in a league fixture. It pales into insignificance where he is concerned.
Mourinho is mature, conducts himself "professionally" when he meets a rival—mentor or not—whereas Villas-Boas hasn't heeded the advice on how to grow up.
In Mourinho's eyes, Villas-Boas remains a child. And what do we do with children? We discipline them and let them know when they've done wrong and maybe they will know better next time.
The Chelsea press conference on Friday wasn't the dismissal some have suggested. It went much deeper than that. This was Mourinho publicly calling out his apprentice. In amongst those disguised insults was a warning for Villas-Boas to brace himself—it's going to get rough.
Not only that, but for all of their posturing and spending under Villas-Boas, Mourinho appears to believe that this Spurs team could be better with a different manager.
"For two years they finished in the Champions League positions under Harry [Redknapp]," Mourinho continued. "[...] Last year they did a bit worse but the team have big quality."
It was a harsh observation and one aimed at undermining any part of his reputation Villas-Boas may rebuilt since taking over at White Hart Lane after his Chelsea career came to a premature end in 2012.
Pep Guardiola, in an uncharacteristic outburst, once said of Mourinho: "In this room [the press room], he is the f****** chief, el puto amo – the f****** man," (via Goal.com).
On Friday, Mourinho wanted to remind Villas-Boas of that. On Saturday, he wants his team to teach his former apprentice a similar lesson.