I saw Jose Mourinho looking round a churchyard the other day. When I saw him later, he was still looking puzzled amongst the gravestones. I thought ‘He’s lost the plot…’. We–ell: he has, hasn’t he? These days the man is paranoid with his warped theories about everything concerning ‘his’ Chelsea, ‘his’ beloved team being cruelly persecuted by officialdom, the media and just about everybody and everything that disagrees with him. Having recently irritated the FA and been punished for it the Portuguese is now hell-bent on taking his crusade further, taking four hours to complain on last Sunday’s Sky Sports coverage. Perhaps if he turned his attention on some of his ’supporters’, you know the ones who travel on the Eurostar to Paris, and go to the match on the Metro, he might get some support from those of us he clearly alienates with his extreme views.
I don’t normally do politics, but how’s this for an idea, to really test the mettle of the locals in the area these racist supporters come from? If all – centre-thinking people – I nearly said right-minded, but that’s a dangerous description – how about banning the culprits really where it hurts: in the pubs they frequent, their pictures displayed locally so the ordinary people can really know just who, right in their midst is dragging the British name into the gutter for all the world to see? OK, rant over, but there’s plenty more disgust where that came from.
Mourinho’s Chelsea are five points clear at the top of the prestigious Prem – but that’s not good enough for Motormouth – he has to go the extra mile and further alienate the neutrals amongst us with his mumbling, self-contradictory rants. Me – anti-Chelsea? Actually, old chap, far from it… As a young serviceman on the south coast during the late sixties, every year my mates and I would travel up to Stamford Bridge on the Saturday that Chelsea played Manchester United, the Reds together with Law, Best and Charlton (be still, my beating heart). Team support varied within our group, but overall I preferred the swash and buckle of the Kings Road heroes of Osgood, Hutchinson, Cooke, Tambling, Bonetti etc. What games they were. Anyone remember Chopper Harris trying and failing to stop Best with that shuddering tackle that George somehow rode, socks round his soaked ankles as he went on to score – and I saw Norman Burtenshaw send Best off for dissent at the Bridge one year, in the same match as a Bobby Charlton rocket passed goalie Jon Phillips on the way back out. And in those Leeds Cup Final matches, I definitely supported Chelsea then.
Probably if I lived in London I would prefer Spurs, ‘cos of my all-time hero Jimmy Greaves (Harry Kane looks to have the same killer touch). I’m no Arsenal, West Ham, Crystal Palace or Quickly Pursuing Relegation fan – but I’m certainly not against the Chelsea Blues. They play good football, most of the time anyway, when they’re not stamping or diving.
I just wish Mourinho was big enough to see the full picture: his players are not the saints he makes out. Yes, Ashley Barnes should have been sent off on Saturday, but hasn’t Matic been around and got enough experience to handle that? Obviously not – and that’s your fault, Jose, you should discipline him – he cost you two points – and there’s the rub. Penalties? They’re such a hot issue these days for everyone. After Alex Song’s hauling down of Harry Kane in the 110th minute (whatever) big Sam at West Ham pointed out the Hammers hadn’t even had a penalty awarded this season, and maybe they should be looking for them.
No, the uncomfortable truth is that Mourinho is deeply (and correctly) worried about Man City catching them, and it shows – so he’s catching every possible straw to prevent that happening. If the Portuguese can plant one shred, one tiny iota of doubt in any potential referee or linesman’s head pre or during a match, to tip the balance or thwart any ‘unfair’ treatment to his Blue Boys, even to tip the 50/50 scales to 51/49 in his favour he will do it. Like Alex Ferguson, Mourinho knows on such things championships and cups can be won – and lost. And after last season Jose dare not lose another Premier League – it’s three long seasons since he won the La Liga crown with Real Madrid. He might be adored at the Bridge, but he’s not widely popular en Espana, where Ancelotti’s doing it better.
There is one very interesting point about Chelsea currently. In the last four games the Blues have scored five goals. Unbelievably three of these were scored by full back Branislav Ivanovic, who keeps getting better, and the other two came from midfielders Hazard and Willian. The defence has conceded three with Thibaut Courtois performing miracles every week (and if not him Petr Cech). Erm… that’s hardly Championship-winning form, is it? Where’s that mighty, feared forward line? Of course, Diego Costa’s suspension didn’t help, but with Remy and Drogba available that shouldn’t be a problem. Mourinho mis-management? Chelsea are having a mid-season crisis, one that started with December defeats by Newcastle and Spurs (we sportingly won’t mention the FA Cup and Bradford – oops, sorry, I did…).
Well, it all makes Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final on Sunday afternoon against Tottenham a fascinating duel for the neutrals – like me. Whatever happens, I just hope Mourinho shuts his mouth and gets on with it – and lets the football do the talking!