Two passionate and charismatic managers are set to lock horns on Saturday (October 24) and one of them, West Ham's Slaven Bilic, had plenty of positive things to say about the other – Jose Mourinho of Chelsea.
Mourinho has received heavy criticism for his behaviour and was punished by the FA for his post-match “rant” after the Blues 3-1 home loss at the hands of Southampton.
But Bilic sees another side to him.
Bilic said: “He was very friendly to me. He texted me when I signed for West Ham . The day after I signed I was back home in Split in Croatia and I got a text and I thought it was someone winding me up. Then Demba Ba called me from Istanbul saying Mourinho wants my number. He was pleased for me. He just wished me good luck.
“There are few managers like him. He has everything. Since the time he burst onto the stage he has got instant success.
“He was still winning major trophies in his early managerial career as assistant manager at Barcelona and manager at Porto. Then he came to Chelsea and was the best for them.
“He gave them something they had never had before and he had success at Inter Milan and Real Madrid. He has the character and charisma and he is everything but boring. He is a magnet for everything.”
It is not the first time Mourinho has been charged or disciplined for his outbursts if he has been rattled by something in a match. It is in stark contrast to Bilic who is measured and mannered and speaks in the softest terms with the quietest voice.
Jose deserves respect
Regardless of Mourinho’s turbulent off-field antics, Bilic insisted he still deserved respect.
“The more successful and charismatic someone is the more they polarise people. You either love them or hate them,” said the 46-year-old former Croatia national team boss.
“It’s not a campaign to become the Prime Minister of England and I’m not talking about why the people love him or hate him but you have to respect him for what he has done because his CV is unbelievable.”
On the search for only their second home win of the season Bilic will know that Mourinho is yet to taste defeat against West Ham in his two spells as Chelsea manager. Bilic this week said that West Ham will have to play their away game at home to secure three points.