Both Chelsea and Manchester United are starting the preseason in Thailand and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is using the close proximity of the two clubs to start prodding Man United manager David Moyes a bit.
In his first press conference as Man United manager just last week, Moyes made it very clear that Wayne Rooney, who requested a transfer before the end of last season, is not for sale. Despite Moyes' clarity on the issue, Mourinho has decided not to let the point of contention quietly fade away by verifying Chelsea's rumored interest in Rooney and saying that he is "a player that I like very much." Moyes, as you might imagine, did not appreciate this.
From the Guardian:
Speaking at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium where Moyes takes charge of United's opening pre-season tour match on Saturday against the Singha All Star XI, the Scot was asked about Mourinho's comments. "Unless I was speaking double Dutch last week, we said Wayne Rooney is not for sale," said Moyes.
Earlier Mourinho, talking at the team hotel in Bangkok where Chelsea are also embarking on their own tour, the Portuguese was asked if Rooney would become a Chelsea player this summer. "It's a funny, tricky question from an ethical point of view as I can't talk about players from other teams," he said. "But it is not my character to speak with hypocrisy, I always tell what I see. He's a player that I like very much. Being fast and direct I like him very much, but he's a Manchester United player."
Of course, starting off by saying "it's a funny, tricky question" and "I can't talk about players from other teams" before doing exactly that shows that Mourinho knows what he's doing with such comments. And since Rooney was sent home with a hamstring injury shortly after Man United arrived in Thailand — adding questions about Rooney's previously touted fitness to those of his interest level — he'll have time to ponder these comments with his advisors.
From a transfer dealings perspective, Mourinho's motives are clear, but as with many things he says, there could be a bit of a personal vendetta at work as well. When Mourinho was publicly nominated as a replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson before the Scot even announced his retirement, club director Sir Bobby Charlton said, "Mourinho is a really good coach but that's as far as I would go really. ... He pontificates too much for my liking."
Though Mourinho says he had no interest in the Man United job and always wanted to return to Chelsea, the fact that he wasn't more seriously considered could've still been perceived as something of an insult by a man who sees most everything as an insult. So now he's using his words to get inside Moyes' head just as he used his finger to get inside Tito Vilanova's eyeball. And it's only July.