Name a major team in Europe and the chances are Roma boss Jose Mourinho has found a way to antagonise them in some way during his managerial career – and that includes the ones he has even been in charge of.
So there is little surprise then that as Serie A looks forward to arguably its biggest clash this weekend in Juventus vs Roma, Mourinho has previous with the Turin outfit.
The fixture alone has plenty of weight to garner the attention of supporters and not just those inside Italy. But the additional element of Mourinho ‘kick’ just makes this more eye-catching than usual.
Jose Mourinho will return to Juventus with Roma for the first time in three years on Sunday
The Portuguese will be hoping to kick-start Roma’s Champions League push in Turin
For Mourinho the trip for his side to the Allianz Stadium will mark his first return to the ground since his days as Manchester United manager and that infamous Champions League group stage win in November 2018.
Nothing infamous about his team’s performance, mind you. It was a masterclass smash and grab victory as the Red Devils bounced back from a Cristiano Ronaldo opener in the second half to equalise through Juan Mata with four minutes left, before stealing victory three minutes later following a Leonardo Bonucci own goal.
Mourinho loved every second of it, and made sure the home supporters knew it too. After the final whistle, having been verbally taunted throughout, he marched onto the pitch and with a half smirk, half sly smile cupped his ear to all four corners of the ground and feeding off the fury revelled in his favoured role as the pantomime villain. Bonucci immediately confronted him about it, before United officials swooped their boss down the tunnel out of harm’s way.
Mourinho’s last trip to Juventus saw his Manchester United side seal a dramatic late 2-1 victory
‘When I reacted at the end of the game last time in a way that was criticised, I thought it was a bit strange,’ Mourinho said earlier this week about the incident.
‘People remembered the 10-second emotional reaction and forgot 90 minutes of the game. Today we talk about respect but in those 90 minutes that was all forgotten.’
It wasn’t a one night only event though, it was just the latest chapter of Mourinho’s long running feud with Juventus.
Where does it begin? Perhaps unsurprisingly with Mourinho, it all started in a March 2009 press conference during a season when in his first year with Inter Milan they were cruising along to a fourth consecutive title (including the one inherited following the infamous ‘calciopoli’ scandal in 2006).
Mourinho cupped his ears after the game in a goading gesture to Juventus supporters
He was immediately confronted by Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci in the moments after
Mourinho went on an epic eight-minute speech regarding the rebuild of Italian football in the fallout of the damaging scandal which centred on match fixing by picking referees and involved clubs including Juventus and AC Milan.
With Inter having dominated Italy in the immediate years following, he put Serie A on notice but also name-checked a few of the traditional top teams in the country in a speech known as ‘zeru tituli’ due to his mis-pronunciation of ‘zero titles’ in Italian.
An extract from it says: ‘In the last two years there has been no mention of Rome which has great players, but which will end the season with zero titles. There was no mention of Milan which has 11 points less than us and will close the season with zero titles. There was no mention of Juve, who won so many points with referee errors.’
Even though Mourinho only stuck around at Inter for two years, before leaving on a high having won a glorious treble including Serie A, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia, he seemed to enjoy goading Juventus when he could.
Picking up on referee calls going in their favour was a favourite tactic. In February 2010 during the treble winning campaign, he took an out of context dig at Juve referring to the club with a snide remark, claiming ‘in Italy there is one penalty area of 25 meters’ in reference to fortunate penalties being awarded to them.
Mourinho’s feud with Juventus started while he was Inter Milan manager in 2009
It was while with the Nerazzuri that Mourinho enjoyed a productive time in Italy, winning the treble including just the team’s third ever European Cup
Even after leaving Inter, he couldn’t help himself but to take constant sharp jabs at the club.
A year into his Real Madrid tenure, he remarked on how his Inter Milan tenure meant he could never take charge of Juventus out of respect to the Nerazzurri.
He claimed: ‘I am the kind of person who is perhaps too dedicated to his team to coach a rival, I cannot coach Juve after having managed Inter’.
Admittedly this is one of his quotes that has not aged particularly well given the ease in which he accepted to the role to take over at Tottenham Hotspur in 2019 following successful years managing their fierce London rivals Chelsea.
Even while with Real Madrid, Mourinho could not resist verbal jabs at Juventus
Mourinho often poked fun at Juventus during press conferences, especially while at Inter
And that brings us back to the Manchester United and Juventus matches in the 2018-19 group stage.
This time though it’s the Old Trafford clash a fortnight before the ear-cupping when Paulo Dybala’s strike sealed an away win for the visitors.
Naturally, Juve fans took great delight in getting one over an old rival with taunts from the away end and Mourinho couldn’t resist a bite – raising three fingers in the air towards the Bianconeri fans as a gesture of the treble he won at Inter.
Mourinho has revealed that he does have respect for the club but in the typical Jose way couldn’t do it without a blind attack on a section within it – on one occasion being their fanbase.
Following the Old Trafford defeat and his interaction with the Juve fans, he said: ‘Obviously they [Juventus supporters] are not in love with me. The hardest moment for them was our [Inter] treble. But with players, technical staff and management there is total respect.’
So there won’t be a red carpet for Mourinho when he brings his Roma side to the Allianz Stadium on Sunday. Not that there would be even if he wasn’t in charge.
Juventus players celebrate their side’s 1-0 win at Mourinho’s United side in 2018
Jeered by Juve fans, Mourinho responded with three fingers to mark his treble with Inter
Roma, like pretty much the rest of Serie A’s top teams, have a heated rivalry with the Old Lady and for Mourinho’s side it goes back over 40 years. In 1981, a late goal against Juve three matches from the end of the campaign was controversially ruled out for offside and it cost Roma the title by two points in favour of the Turin outfit.
It’s not been forgotten and as the teams prepare to line up on Sunday, Mourinho can quickly win back favour with the Roma fans with victory after an inconsistent start to the season.
They currently sit fourth in Serie A but have stumbled in recent weeks after winning their first three games, and are six points adrift of league leaders Napoli who have won all seven games.
Juventus meanwhile are starting to pick up steam again under returning boss Massimiliano Allegri following a poor start of just two points from four matches.
Three consecutive wins have since followed and in seventh place they host Roma in good form following the resumption of domestic football after the international break.
Mourinho will hope the likes of Tammy Abraham can fire his side to victory in Turin on Sunday
But Allegri – who branded the now 58-year-old ‘pathetic’ on Italian television in 2011 – has insisted his rivalry with Mourinho will not take centre stage.
‘Mourinho is a coach who has won a lot and I respect him,’ Allegri said in his pre-match press conference.
‘It is part of his personality that, once in a while, he will do something like he did at Manchester United a few years ago. This is not a clash between me and Mourinho. I am pleased to have a top coach like him back in Italy. He adds value to Roma and Serie A.’
Another three points against Juventus would be a huge boost for Roma meanwhile to get their season back on track, and should it come don’t expect Mourinho to be too humble about it.