It’s no secret that Premier League managers dislike the busy Christmas period but Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has a reason to despise it more that most.
Cold weather conditions, barmy kick-off times and a general pile-up of multiple fixtures in the space of just a few short days have all played a part in the general antipathy towards this period of the campaign.
But it’s more personal for Mourinho, who will undoubtedly have painful memories when it comes to the ghost of Christmases past.
Picture the scene: it’s 1984 and the entire Mourinho clan are gather around the dinner table. Football is naturally a frequent topic of conversation in the Special One’s family, given his father’s past as a top-level goalkeeper and former manager.
In charge of Portuguese top-flight side Rio Ave at the time, Felix Mourinho had also been in the running to land the Portugal national team job just a year earlier.
It’s not difficult to see why: Mourinho the elder had guided Rio Ave to a ninth place finish in the league in the 1983/84 campaign as well as an appearance in the Portuguese Cup final, having earned promotion from the second tier just a season earlier.
But by the time Christmas 1984 had rolled around, however, he was under pressure. In the midst of a winless run, that had the pressure mounting.
A defeat to lowly Covilha was the final straw but, for whatever reason, Mourinho Snr clung on. Until Christmas Day.
Because in the least gracious and most undignified decision of all time, the powerbrokers at Rio Ave opted to deliver the news of his sacking on what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
“He was a manager, the results had not been good, he lost a game on December 22 or 23,” Mourinho recalled, years later. “On Christmas Day, the telephone rang and he was sacked in the middle of our lunch.”
Reportedly 21 at the time of his father’s sacking, the incident undoubtedly served to showcase the ruthless side to the game and also offered a stark warning to Mourinho: your previous success counts for nothing unless you are winning right now.
It would never get much better for Felix in the beautiful game either – he never even came close to winning another trophy and was never talked of as the next potential manager of Portugal ever again.