Jose Mourinho appeared to suggest his Manchester United successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become “a puppet”.
After replacing Mourinho in December on an interim basis, Solskjaer embarked on a stunning start by winning 14 of his opening 17 matches in charge of United.
The Norwegian coach’s spectacular progress, along with his popularity among the players and fans, convinced the United board to hand him a three-year contract in March.
Following that decision, however, Solskjaer has since lost six of the club’s last 10 games in all competitions. Hence, the Red Devils crashed out of the Champions League and FA Cup quarter-finals and finished a distant sixth in the Premier League.
And now Mourinho has aimed a swipe at the “nice guy” who replaced him at Old Trafford.
“I don’t want to be the nice guy,” Mourinho told L’Equipe.
“Because the nice guy, after three months, is a puppet and that doesn’t end well.”
He added: “When you are almost alone, in that you don’t have the support of the club close to you, while certain players go somewhat against the coach, who is the nice guy?”
In his two and a half years, Mourinho won 84 and lost 28 of his 144 games in charge of United.
The Portuguese coach won a treble in his debut campaign in the EFL Cup, Community Shield and the Europa League.
However, Mourinho regards last season’s second-place finish in the Premier League as his “greatest achievement” at the club.
“When I say that the second season was fantastic, I say it because the potential and the objectives were met,” he said.
“I really squeezed, like an orange, to achieve them.”
Despite his reported disputes with star midfielder Paul Pogba, Mourinho also insisted that United’s troubles are much bigger than their record signing.
“The problems are there, you can say that these are the players, the organisation, the ambition,” said the 56-year-old.
“I only say that I cannot say ‘yes’ when you ask if Paul was the only one responsible.”