Two weeks prior to Jose Mourinho’s infamous run down the Old Trafford touchline that alerted English football to this suave and charming young foreigner, he guided Porto to a 2-1 home victory over Manchester United .
Sir Alex Ferguson was so infuriated by Porto’s play-acting in that round-of-16 first-leg tie he refused to shake Mourinho’s hand after the match, and Ferguson’s opposite number revelled in these sour grapes.
Rather than gracefully accepting the victory over United and their legendary coach, Mourinho went on the attack with words that probably should have gone down in history more than his touchline sprint the following fortnight.
“I understand why Ferguson is a bit emotional,” Mourinho said on that February 2004 night, as quoted in The Times .
“He has some top players in the world and they should be doing a lot better than that. You would be really sad if your team gets as clearly dominated as that by an opponent who has been built on maybe ten per cent of the budget.”
If Ferguson was only slightly infuriated at the full-time whistle, the veteran Scot was surely bristling with anger after Mourinho’s comments.
But, given Man United’s European performance against Sevilla on Tuesday night, these comments have not aged well.
It may have taken 14 years for Mourinho’s words to come back and bite him, but they have done.
The Portuguese was guilty of everything he accused Ferguson of doing back in 2004, with his expensively assembled squad ‘clearly dominated’ by a team ‘built on maybe ten per cent of the budget’.
Like Ferguson, Mourinho was emotional after the match - but his emotion was expressed in a way that tore into Manchester United as a football club.
Surely even Mourinho was aware it was not a good move to remind everyone it was ‘nothing new’ for the Old Trafford club to fall out the Champions League at the first knockout stage?