José Mourinho has accused André Villas-Boas of behaving like "a kid" by speaking publicly about the breakdown of the pair's relationship before Chelsea's visit to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and insisted any lingering grievances should instead be sorted out face to face.
Villas-Boas worked as Mourinho's chief opposition scout for a seven-year period, taking in spells at Porto, Chelsea and Internazionale, before departing San Siro in the autumn of 2009 to pursue his own managerial career. The former scout had indicated on Thursday that he and the Portuguese are no longer in contact but that he would not "lose any sleep" over the fracture, explaining they had gone their separate ways because he had been denied greater responsibility at Internazionale.
Mourinho contests aspects of his compatriot's version of events but he made it clear he would not speak at similar depth on the subject as he conducted his own pre-match media duties on Friday. "I'm not a kid [here] to discuss relationships with the media," he said. "It's a personal thing. I don't care what he says. I'm not interested. If I have something to discuss with someone, we go upstairs, have lunch and speak about it. I don't do it in front of you."
Yet, while ostensibly seeking to move matters on, the Chelsea manager regularly returned obliquely to the topic throughout the session. He reacted with disbelief when Sir Bobby Robson – with whom he had worked closely at Sporting Lisbon and Porto as an interpreter – was mentioned in connection with his opposite number at White Hart Lane, despite it being public knowledge that Robson had helped enrol the young Villas-Boas at Lilleshall and spend time with Ipswich and in Largs with the Scottish Football Association. "Why?" asked Mourinho. "Where has he worked with André? It's something new you're telling me."
There was a reference, too, to what should be considered a success when managing in the Portuguese league, where Mourinho won two domestic league titles, the Uefa Cup and the Champions League in his two seasons at Porto before moving to England in 2004. "If you have a good team, and Porto have a good team, you are champions," he said. "After that, the point is if you can win the Champions League or not."
Villas-Boas spent a year at Porto, winning the domestic league and cup double and the Europa League, before moving to Chelsea as successor to Carlo Ancelotti in 2011 without having sampled the Champions League.
If those were relatively subtle criticisms, Villas-Boas's decision to speak about the pair's fall-out had clearly left Mourinho unimpressed. "Normally, if someone has a problem with you, you should speak face to face," he said. "My parents taught me that: if you have a problem at school, you should try and resolve it yourself rather than bringing it home. I'm the dad of the dressing room and I don't want things coming to the dad all the time, but things should be resolved between brothers. When people know me, they know they can be very straight and very objective with me.
"I would say 90% of the people who speak about me don't know me. The credibility I give them, and that others should give them, must be the minimum. Those people who really know me, their opinion is respectful. If you ask me about other managers, the ones I don't know I have no credibility to speak about. The ones I know, if I like them and have positive things to say, I say with happiness. If I have some reason that I don't like, if I have something against them, I prefer not to say. It's a question of personality."
Mourinho does not anticipate sharing a glass of wine with Villas-Boas post-match at White Hart Lane – "When people invite me I always go," he says, "and I'd never refuse" – with the Spurs head coach due to fly to Portugal immediately after the derby to be a guest at his former club's 120th anniversary celebrations. Mourinho has been invited but is not expected to attend. By then, these teams' title credentials will be clearer with Spurs considered direct rivals for the championship.
"They are a big contender," said Mourinho. "They reached a quarter-final against Real Madrid in Harry Redknapp's time. The next year they also finished fourth but didn't play in the Champions League because Chelsea won it. Last year they did worse, they didn't do the same, but the team have big quality. They were the champions of the [transfer] market, bringing in international players with quality. They have a much better squad now than they had the season before, so they are much more contenders than they were before."
Chelsea are considering restoring Juan Mata to the starting line-up following his impressive display at Swindon Town in the Capital One Cup in midweek, a selection that is likely to affect Willian's involvement. The Brazilian was close to joining Spurs last month and the completion of his £30m move from Anzhi Makhachkala to Chelsea instead dismayed the Tottenham hierarchy. "Chelsea were trying to get him for two years, and Willian always felt very connected with that move," said Mourinho. "The kid always had the dream to play for Chelsea."