IT is tempting to draw a parallel between the two managers who square off today at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho are both animated on the sidelines and both have a reputation of being results driven. Both cultivate the crowd, both won a Premier League title at Chelsea and both struggled the following season amidst tension over “control” and differences with club officials at a trigger-happy club.

It is also rather simplistic. Start with the post-title season. Mourinho was sacked in December, with the club one point above the relegation zone. And while it is possible Chelsea will slide further down the table this season, they were fourth going into the weekend, a single point behind Tottenham who are being praised left, right and centre.

It is a question of degree as well. Chelsea were woeful against Roma in the Champions League and they have suffered some bloody noses already. But they are nowhere near where they were under Mourinho in 2015-16, when they lost more than half their Premier League games.

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What is more, there is no Eva Carneiro case looming in the background. And while there have been grumblings about training regimens, there doesn’t seem to have been the personal acrimony, at least not between the manager and his bigger stars, that there was in the autumn of 2015.

What you have instead is a manager who wasn’t happy with the summer transfer activity and has let it be known, just as he has in his previous club jobs. And that, juxtaposed with a club which believes they can be successful even while changing managers regularly, doesn’t bode well for longevity.

And that is before we get into other obvious differences, like the fact Mourinho was in his second stint (and therefore had “baggage”) or that there was a whole different landscape in the Premier League back then, with lame duck managers at both Manchester clubs, Jurgen Klopp recently installed at Anfield and Leicester on their way to the Premier League title.

Mourinho’s schadenfreude towards Conte is more than understandable. Folks have made a lot of their clashes – Mourinho upbraiding Conte for egging on the crowd at Stamford Bridge with his team 4-0 up, Conte saying he didn’t want to have a “Mourinho season”, Mourinho saying he wasn’t going to “cry” about his injuries, Conte telling him to mind his own business – but, in fact, the Special One has been there and done that with most top managers. Were it Sir Alex Ferguson doing it, we would be calling it “mind games”.

We will have a better idea today where these two teams stand. Mourinho is ticking his boxes results-wise – perfect in the Champions League, second only to an otherworldly City in the league – though performances have dropped since the beginning of the season.

Mourinho has mitigating factors, starting with the injuries to Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, but he knows that if it pays off in the end few will care how those victories were achieved.

Equally though, he ought to know that performances need to pick up. Because it is not a question of aesthetics: performances simply are a better indicator of future results than current results. It’s a lesson learned over time.

THE proposed Global Nations League may sound like another misguided megalomaniacal Fifa gambit/land grab/attempt to make international football more relevant. But closer scrutiny puts it in a different light, particularly for nations outside the top 30.

The idea – which didn’t originate with Fifa but with Uefa who are pioneering it with their own European Nations League next autumn – is to turn international friendly dates into actual meaningful fixtures. Each confederation would split their members into tiers – seven in all – and each tier would be further split into groups of three or four. Countries would face each other home and away and the winners in each tier would advance to a “final eight” in a neutral venue where they would take on the winners in the other confederations.

So, for example, Europe’s top tier would have three groups, South America would have two, the others one each (apart from Oceania). And you could imagine a “final eight” for the top tier comprising, say, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, Argentina, Senegal, Mexico and Japan. They would play each other in a straight knockout: quarter-final, semi-final and final in, say, England.

Where it gets interesting is that the lower tiers would also have their Final Eight. Scotland, as it stands, would be in the second tier and, should they win their group they might face off against, say, Paraguay, Honduras, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Korea, Sweden and Holland. And that applies right down to the bottom tier, populated by the likes of Liechtenstein, Gambia and Western Samoa.

There would be promotion and relegation between the tiers and the whole thing would be played out in existing international dates, so it would simply replace friendlies rather than increasing fixture congestion. Commercial and broadcasting rights would be sold centrally which would, if Uefa’s history is anything to go by, greatly increase revenue.

It is easy, and often justified, to be sceptical, but the appeal here lies in the fact that countries would be taking on teams at or close to their level and matches would actually mean something. Given that more than half the world’s footballing nations have no realistic chance of ever being at a World Cup – or, really, ever playing a match outside of their confederation – there’s merit there.

Whether or not it comes to pass will be decided likely in March. But at the very least it is encouraging that the powers-that-be are thinking about ways to give the international game a shot in the arm.