Mesut Ozil tells a particularly startling story in his autobiography about the day Jose Mourinho stared him down and loudly called him “a coward” following one of his more languid performances for Real Madrid.
“You think two beautiful passes are enough – you think you’re so good that 50 per cent is enough?” Mourinho shouted. “What do you want? To creep under the beautiful, warm shower? Shampoo your hair? To be alone? Or do you want to prove to your fellow players, the fans out there, and me, what you can do?”
In that moment, Ozil openly admitted that he felt hatred for Mourinho. It is certainly hard to imagine Arsene Wenger having ever given him such a blunt piece of his mind, but the postscript is particularly instructive.
Ozil produced perhaps the best football of his career in Real Madrid’s historic 2011-12 season when they won La Liga with a record number of points and goals. He was only sold by Madrid once Mourinho had himself gone and, when his book came out earlier in the year, it was the Manchester United manager, rather than Wenger, to whom he turned to write the foreword.
“I love Mourinho actually,” Ozil wrote, making it clear that he was not one of the Madrid players who so clearly lost faith during the subsequent 2012-13 season. Ozil also has a strong, if very different, relationship with Wenger.