Chelsea work­ers avoid Mour­inho

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — As Jose Mour­inho stomps around the train­ing ground, Chelsea em­ploy­ees dive into side rooms or peek around corners to avoid their tem­per­a­men­tal man­ager.

No­body wants to come into con­tact with him these days. Not when the mood is black and the at­mos­phere op­pres­sive.

Mour­inho will not speak about the mo­ment he shouted ‘ filho da puta’ at the club’s pop­u­lar doc­tor Eva Carneiro dur­ing the 2-2 draw with Swansea City on the open­ing day of the Bar­clays Premier League sea­son. Pri­vately, em­ploy­ees at the club are firmly on her side.

It is one of the rea­sons Mour­inho is strug­gling to mo­ti­vate the dress­ing room, cre­at­ing ten­sion be­tween him and the play­ers.

Carneiro has not been to work for the past 36 days, in limbo as Chelsea pre­pare for a po­ten­tial civil ac­tion that could cost them hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds in dam­ages.

Mour­inho is re­fus­ing to apol­o­gise, to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for pub­licly call­ing out a highly-re­spected mem­ber of the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion dur­ing an ex­plo­sive con­fronta­tion.

There are ru­mours at the club that Ro­man Abramovich’s part­ner Dasha Zhukova, along with the wives and part­ners of the play­ers, felt Mour­inho was heavy-handed and dis­re­spect­ful. He is strug­gling to hold this team to­gether, to unite this dress­ing room af­ter they slipped to their third de­feat of the sea­son at Ever­ton last Satur­day.

It was a piti­ful per­for­mance, with the body lan­guage of the play­ers when they stepped off the team bus sug­gest­ing they were about to sur­ren­der. Where was the swag­ger of cham­pi­ons, the aura that is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with Mour­inho’s ti­tle-win­ning teams?

Some of the is­sues can be traced back to last sea­son and the man­ager’s frus­tra­tion with Diego Costa goes much deeper than the con­tin­ued frus­tra­tions with the £32mil­lion striker’s trou­ble­some ham­strings. Af­ter Chelsea had sewn up the ti­tle with a 1-0 win over Crys­tal Palace on May 3, Mour­inho re­warded his play­ers with four days off to give them time to celebrate.

Costa, who flew to Madrid to party, in­dulged a lit­tle bit too much and took an ex­tra day. Mour­inho re­sponded by ax­ing him from the team that drew 1-1 against Liver­pool on May 10, but by then the prob­lems were be­gin­ning to pile up for Costa.

Over a three-week pe­riod in the build up to the ti­tle tri­umph there had been nu­mer­ous com­plaints about loud noise and par­ties at chez Costa. By then, the goals had pretty much dried up.

Phys­i­cally the Brazil­ian is back in good shape this sea­son, with Chelsea play­ers not­ing that he has re­turned to peak con­di­tion fol­low­ing the sum­mer’s ex­cesses. De­spite that, he has scored just once.

Radamel Fal­cao, the back-up striker who shares the same agent, Jorge Men­des, as Mour­inho, is paid £150,000 per week by Chelsea as part of the ar­range­ment with his par­ent club Monaco. He has made lit­tle im­pact.

There is also re­sis­tance among the play­ers to Mour­inho’s au­to­cratic — yet hugely suc­cess­ful — sys­tem, a legacy from last sea­son’s ti­tle runin. There are play­ers in that team — Os­car, Wil­lian and Eden Haz­ard — who would pre­fer to play with more flair.

But Mour­inho is un­moved and the down­turn in re­sults this sea­son have made him dig in even more.

To get out of this hole the man­ager will have to ad­dress the in­ter­nal di­vi­sions that are cre­at­ing so much con­flict and bring the play­ers back on his side.

This was sup­posed to be the year when the academy play­ers would flour­ish, with Mour­inho promis­ing at the end of last sea­son that he would in­te­grate four young­sters in the first-team squad. Abramovich is ap­ply­ing the squeeze from above.

Ev­ery­one at the club is un­der pres­sure to end the 18-year wait for a youth-team grad­u­ate to be­come a reg­u­lar fix­ture in the first team. The wait will go on.

There is a gen­eral per­cep­tion within the game that Mour­inho will not pro­mote young play­ers, a the­ory that cost the Por­tuguese the chance to suc­ceed Sir Alex Fer­gu­son at Manch­ester United.

When they met with Mour­inho, United’s power­bro­kers were not con­vinced that he would con­tinue the great tra­di­tions of the club by de­vel­op­ing young play­ers.

They called it right, with a stag­ger­ing 33 Chelsea play­ers cur­rently out on loan to other clubs.

At academy level, there is sur­prise that Do­minic Solanke, one of the most tal­ented young for­wards in the coun­try, has been loaned to Vitesse Arn­hem. Most as­sumed he would be Chelsea’s fourth striker this year. In­stead the club are deep in cri­sis, with the ex­cuses that this team was un­der-pre­pared for the sea­son ahead long for­got­ten af­ter their alarm­ing start to the sea­son.

This is another big week­end for Mour­inho, as his side face Ar­se­nal on Satur­day.

The last time Chelsea played Arsene Wenger’s team — in the Com­mu­nity Shield clash at Wem­b­ley last month, Mour­inho lost to the French­man for the first time in his man­age­rial ca­reer.

If he is beaten again, Mour­inho will be run­ning for cover.

Mean­while, Mour­inho says he thinks he knows what is wrong with his team and in­sists his meth­ods will pull the club through. But could they be part of the prob­lem?

Mour­inho is no lover of im­pro­vi­sa­tion. On the pitch, he wants to see 11 au­toma­tons — all per­fectly drilled in his flip-chart ex­er­cises. Think of the play­ers he has crit­i­cised or jet­ti­soned for fail­ing to track back — from Joe Cole to Juan Mata. Think of the de­fend­ers who in­curred his wrath be­cause they failed to do things just the way he wanted — from Asier Del Horno to Tal Ben Haim.

Play­ers, when asked, talk of him as a hard taskmas­ter – who knows ex­actly how he wants things done, and is un­for­giv­ing on those who de­mur from the plan.

Wit­ness Thibaut Cour­tois — lobbed from 60 yards by Char­lie Adam ear­lier this year, but who then im­me­di­ately re­took his post­ing way be­yond the edge of the penalty box. Or this sea­son’s much maligned Branislav Ivanovic, who con­tin­ues to back away from at­tack­ing for­wards, his arms fas­tened be­hind his back.

These play­ers don’t do these things be­cause they are stupid, or reck­less or cava­lier — they do them be­cause, over thou­sands of hours at Cob­ham, Mour­inho has in­grained it in their psy­che. Ev­ery man who pulls on the shirt for Chelsea is ex­pected to do ex­actly what Mour­inho has trained them to do, in any given sit­u­a­tion, or they risk his not in­sub­stan­tial dis­plea­sure. Even in his own ploys, there is lit­tle room for ma­noeu­vre.

The clas­sic Mour­inho switch when chas­ing a game — full-back off, for­ward on, get a goal or two, for­ward off, de­fender on — be­came some­thing of a trade­mark. If there is an ob­vi­ous rea­son and record for that one, another newer ploy is slightly less un­der­stand­able: bring on Fal­cao to de­fend a cor­ner.

In the sec­ond of Chelsea’s three defeats this sea­son, against Crys­tal Palace, it re­sulted in the Ea­gles’ win­ning goal. Again it hap­pened at Goodison Park on Satur­day — and per­haps the fact that Chelsea did not con­cede straight­away proves, in Mour­inho’s mind, that there is no mad­ness in the method.

What is the point of all this? That Mour­inho has, through his stub­born ded­i­ca­tion to his prac­tised meth­ods, be­come pre­dictable in what he says and does.

Await­ing his ar­rival for the post­match press con­fer­ence at Ever­ton, re­porters chat­ted who he might blame this time — as it is never Chelsea’s fault when they lose un­der Mour­inho. One sug­gested it was about Bird Flu Time in the cy­cle of events — ref­er­enc­ing the com­ments he made putting into con­text what real pres­sure meant in April 2006. Sure enough, and less than 10 min­utes later, he sat in front of jour­nal­ists say­ing football man­age­ment was not a pres­sure job: “I think the refugees are un­der big pres­sure.”

But, if the method is tired and pre­dictable, Mour­inho will be happy to point out that it gen­er­ally works. Look at the medals he has flung into the crowd over the last decade and a half. One of the prob­lems right now seems to be, as with that press con­fer­ence, those whose job it is to watch him and ac­cu­rately pre­dict what is com­ing next.

That is a prob­lem for a man­ager whose suc­cess is, to a sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent, based upon well-drilled rou­tine.

It may seem odd to say it about one who is so known for his abil­ity to turn a game, but is he run­ning out of well-worked clichés to pro­duce the right re­sults?

If Mour­inho is to be­lieved, he is a long way short of done with Chelsea. And Chelsea are a long way short of done with him. But with ques­tions be­ing raised about his re­cur­ring ‘third sea­son syn­drome’, and Chelsea’s dread­ful form back­ing that up, per­haps it is time for one of the world’s top coaches to re­fresh his ideas about the game.

Week­end fix­tures Sept 19: Chelsea v Ar­se­nal, Stoke v Le­ices­ter, Swansea v Ever­ton, New­cas­tle v Wat­ford, As­ton Villa v West Brom, Bournemouth v Sun­der­land, Manch­ester City v West Ham.

Sept 20: Tot­ten­ham v Crys­tal Palace, Liver­pool v Nor­wich, Southamp­ton v Manch­ester United.

— Daily Mail/eurosport


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