Mesut Ozil reveals what Jose Mourinho called him during a tense argument
This is vintage Jose Mourinho.
The Manchester United manager may not be the most popular figure among football supporters, but there's no denying he has had a phenomenal managerial career.
Mourinho has tasted success at every club he's been at. And although the latter half of his career in the dugout hasn't been as successful as the spell between 2003 and 2010, he remains among the game's elite managers.
Footballers who have played under Mourinho often speak about his ability to get inside their heads and spark a reaction. Frank Lampard has a story about Mourinho when the pair were first together at Chelsea that sums up Mourinho's nous as a man-manager.
"His man management was just terrific," Lampard said.
"He knew how to get into people’s heads. He got into mine the moment he came. He has that air of arrogance, that confidence, and it rubs off.
"I have never had a manager who, while I’m standing in the shower cleaning my balls, tells me I’m the best player in the world. He did that. I’ll never forget it. So casual. 'You're the best player in the world, but you need to win titles'.
Lampard said that this unorthodox pep talk from Mourinho left him feeling unbeatable.
"From that moment the extra confidence was in me. Not that I thought I was the best player in the world, but the manager who had just won the Champions League thought it. So I went out a different player."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic said something similar about Mourinho and their spell working together at Inter Milan.
The United striker recounted in his autobiography how the Portuguese manager refused to celebrate any of his goals.
"No matter what I did, or what goals I scored, he looked just as ice-cold," Ibrahimovic said.
"There was never any hint of a smile, no gestures, nothing at all. It was as if nothing had happened, sort of like there was a motionless game in midfield, and I was more awesome than ever then.
"I was doing totally amazing things, but Mourinho had a face like a wet weekend."
One incident particularly annoyed Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker scored this stunning goal against Bologna.
And, one again, nothing from Mourinho.
"He stood there in his suit with his hands by his side, completely stony-faced. What the hell is with that man, I thought. If he doesn’t react to a thing like that, what does get him going?"
However, Mourinho's lack of reaction to Zlatan's brilliance only drove the striker to swear he would "make that man cheer."
The former Chelsea manager knew how to spark a reaction from his player and get under his skin, and both reaped the rewards.
Which is worth bearing in mind when reading these comments from Mesut Ozil's new book about their time together at Real Madrid.
Mourinho called the German playmaker a "coward" following a game, and challenged him to give more effort.
Ozil writes in his new book that Mourinho said to him:
"You think two beautiful passes are enough. You think you're so good that 50% is enough.
"He pauses. Stares at me with his dark brown eyes. I stare back. Like two boxers at the stare-down before the first round.
"He shows no emotion. Just waits for a response from me. How much I hate him right now. And I love Mourinho actually."
The Arsenal player then threw his jersey on the floor of the dressing room.
"Oh, are you giving up now? You're such a coward," Mourinho said, according to Ozil,
"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."
Mourinho isn't the first to call-out Ozil over a perceived lack of effort. But the German playmaker was brilliant under him for three years at Madrid, so his approach evidently worked.
However, such a confrontational style can only last so long, which may partly explain why Mourinho's tenure at Madrid and Chelsea ended.