David Moyes refuses to play Jose Mourinho's mind games as 'it's not my style'


David Moyes needed only five words to win the pre-match verbal skirmish with Jose Mourinho – declaring in reply to the Chelsea manager's provocative claim that Wayne Rooney would leave for continental Europe this summer: "He will go to Brazil."

Moyes revealed that he had received an apology from Mourinho and Chelsea's media department in midweek, after the Portuguese's observations, first published in Tuesday's London Evening Standard interview, that: "My feeling, which is based on years of communicating with Sir Alex and some inside information, is Man United are not happy, but they are calm."

Mourinho's quotes were widely picked up and, according to Chelsea, taken out of context as sensational headlines appeared the following day in other newspapers.

Moyes, who has always had a generally good relationship with Mourinho, claimed that "poor journalism" was to blame for the way the interview was construed elsewhere, though few managers would welcome an opponent speaking in such terms about them and their club.

Moyes was sanguine about Mourinho's latest Rooney jibe. "I wouldn't do it but everybody has their own style. I wouldn't talk about other managers at other clubs and I wouldn't talk about other players at other clubs. But managers have their own style," he said.

The suggestion that the 28-year-old, who has started solitary light training without the ball on the Carrington grass – would head for Europe was wrong, he said. "I completely disagree [with it]. I can only tell you I disagree." Asked what the Chelsea manager's motivation was, he observed: "I can't tell you – but only time will give you the answer about Wayne."

Though the Glaswegian otherwise kept out of the pre-match jousting which has become a well-established Mourinho ritual, it is hard to imagine that he is not tiring of the Portuguese's politicking about affairs of his own club. It was on the morning of the two clubs' goalless draw at Old Trafford in August that the newspapers carried Mourinho's caustic observations that: "I didn't say [to Rooney] 'you will be a second choice for me'. We are trying to get a player that a manager told 'you will be a second option for me'." Moyes had said nothing of the sort.

The notion of selling Rooney to Chelsea, ahead of a 2014-15 season in which United may find themselves competing with the west London side in an attempt to get back into the Champions League, is unthinkable, for the same reason that Liverpool would not sell Luis Suarez to Arsenal last summer. It may prove to be a case of allowing Rooney's contract to run down and taking the hit on losing him for a minimal sum in 2015, if it means having him around for a "comeback" season.

It was when he was asked if he retained hopes of regaining the title that the current mood around the club became most clear. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had been equally unwilling to fall for a headline like that on Thursday, though his response had a far greater optimism about it. "I would put our team up against everyone," Rodgers said.

But despite five Premier League wins in their last six matches, Moyes replied that it would be "wrong for me to come out and say something I couldn't back up or justify. So I am OK winning the next game. The longer it goes, the more I can start to think about what's down the line. But I would always be thinking about being at the top. I wouldn't think about being anywhere else".

It would certainly enhance the way that United are projecting themselves to the world if others were doing the talking for the club, in outlets other than its in-house media. The articulate way Darren Fletcher spoke up for the club and Moyes at a commercial launch eight days ago was a breath of fresh air, which felt like a captain's oration. He was back doing club media this week, while the more upbeat United line – Robin van Persie declaring his faith in the manager – had to be garnered from a commercial interview the striker had given.

Moyes, who when asked about his interest in Mourinho's midfielder Juan Mata reiterated that talking about people's players "is not my style", agreed Sunday was critical to keeping in touch. He hinted at a tight, attritional, defence-minded game-plan and said Van Persie may be back on the grass early next week.

"My relationship with Jose has been fine," he also reflected. "I respect him for the success he's had and for the way he's managed his clubs. He's been one of the best modern-day managers and may well go on to be one of the great managers. I've got no problems at all with Jose." But there was also the faintest hint of yearning – to be cut the same slack that Sunday's adversary, with his swagger, style and mot juste, always seems to get.

Asked if, with Van Persie and Rooney out, he could operate without a striker, he observed that Mourinho had done precisely that over the years. "Maybe it would have been reported differently if I had done it," he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor