THERE was no “I’m a special one.” No “I’m ready for war.” Not even a rant about “class A eggs.” By Jose Mourinho’s own standards, his second bow as Chelsea boss was tame.
Occasionally there was a flicker of the old devil. One reporter got short shrift for bringing up his row with Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, while a question about Roman Abramovich’s alleged preference for former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola was rebuffed swiftly and with gusto.
There was a smattering of charm and humour – he joked about his ego, turning 50, and refusing to reveal his weaknesses – and passionate rhetoric, as he reeled off an impromptu ode to English football: “I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying I love it.”
But it was a fundamentally controlled performance for a man who last week was flinging parting shots at the world’s most expensive footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, and is known almost as much for pithy put-downs as for relentless success.
Perhaps he is yet to identify his main threats, or maybe it is because he arrives following a disappointing last campaign in Madrid. But it left the impression that he is keeping his powder dry. For now.
Frank Dalleres is Sports Editor of City A.M. @frankdalleres