Mour­inho is blame­less in my book

Weekly Trust - - Trust Sports - Wor­ry­ing times for Ful­ham La­cazette fi­nally de­liv­ers City are awe­some

Fol­low­ing Chelsea’s late equal­izer to deny Manch­ester United a 2-1 win, Chelsea back­room an­a­lyst Marco Ianni ran up to Jose Mour­inho pump­ing a cel­e­bra­tory fist in the man­ager’s face. It was a dis­grace­ful thing to do and Mour­inho re­acted an­grily by try­ing to go af­ter the Ital­ian. The stew­ards were quick to re­act and Mour­inho was pre­vented from get­ting to the Chelsea man. Two things have come out of this in­ci­dent which the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion are in­ves­ti­gat­ing. Hav­ing never heard of Ianni I con­tacted Chelsea and dis­cov­ered that he is a mi­nor fig­ure in man­ager Mauricio Sarri’s back­room team and he should not have been any­where near the pitch. His place is in the stands where he nor­mally sits. Sec­ondly it demon­strated just what pres­sure Mour­inho is un­der. The United man­ager thought he had the game won and his di­rec­tors were once again in the VIP visi­tor’s seats and scru­ti­n­is­ing the Red’s ev­ery move. He snapped and lunged for­ward as Ianni ran past him. Mour­inho is hang­ing on to his job at the mo­ment and that win would have re­leased a pres­sure valve to ease his cur­rent tor­ment. To fur­ther un­der­stand what fu­elled this in­ci­dent you have to look at the work­ing week of United pre­par­ing for a big match. Mon­days and Tues­days are the eas­i­est days with light train­ing, strat­egy talks and gen­eral bond­ing within the team. There is def­i­nitely ten­sion in the air when United have not played well. Wed­nes­days are usu­ally a day off for the play­ers but not for the man­ager who is on club du­ties. Thurs­day is the big in­tense train­ing day which starts very early in the morn­ing and ev­ery minute is care­fully planned to get the most out of the play­ers and the man­ager so that they know and un­der­stand their next op­po­nents - Thurs­days are ex­haust­ing. Fri­days of­ten in­clude a game of five-a-side foot­ball and the play­ers en­joy that but the man­ager is alert to which play­ers are the fittest. Satur­days, just hours be­fore the game, are pumped up, stress­ful and with Mour­inho go­ing back to his old club Chelsea last week, where he won three Premier League ti­tles, he was un­der enor­mous pres­sure and must have felt strong emo­tions. The build up to Satur­days is one of the rea­sons why Jose lives near to Old Traf­ford in the Lowry Ho­tel. He finds the walk to the ground re­lax­ing de­spite be­ing dis­guised in a hoody and with body­guards. So when Marco Ianni pumped that fist in Mour­inho’s face it was hardly sur­pris­ing that the United man­ager re­acted an­grily. I must also point out that the Chelsea fans were sit­ting just be­hind Mour­inho and shouted abuse and goaded him for 90 min­utes. The provo­ca­tion was great and the pres­sure in­tense. In my book Jose was blame­less but Ianni should be banned from the pitch in fu­ture, where he plays no part any­way and he should be fined and even per­haps sus­pended.

I find my­self wor­ry­ing about Ful­ham sur­viv­ing in the Premier League. I think they bought well in the sum­mer and spent £100m, have the right man­ager in Slav­isa Jokanovic but when the Cot­tagers trav­elled to Cardiff and let in four goals it showed that the team has big prob­lems and the new play­ers have not set­tled in yet. Cardiff are rel­e­ga­tion favourites but Ful­ham were ex­pected to do bet­ter. I am sure they would ben­e­fit from hav­ing three in the back line with two wing backs, one of whom has to be Ryan Sesseg­non who im­presses me more and more. He can lit­er­ally leave de­fend­ers stand­ing and his pass­ing is su­perb. This week­end’s match against Bournemouth will be tricky but it is a match they could and should win. Ful­ham are now in the bot­tom three and if they don’t per­form on the day I can see a cri­sis of con­fi­dence rear­ing its ugly head. Amer­i­can owner Shahid Khan is fly­ing over to have talks with his man­ager this week and it could be un­com­fort­able for Jokanovic. When for­mer Ar­se­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger was ques­tioned about sign­ing Alexan­dre La­cazette, who had gone nine games with­out a goal and was strug­gling with his form, he replied that the £53mil­lion record sign­ing should be given a chance and he would turn it around. His words have turned out to be prophetic and un­der new man­ager Unai Emery, Alexan­dre has scored five goals in seven matches. He has also formed a close re­la­tion­ship on and off the field with Pierre-Em­er­ick Aube­meyang and this has helped the Gun­ners to re­turn to a top five place in the Premier League. Now his man­ager is urg­ing him to step up even fur­ther say­ing, “This year we are look­ing at him to take one step more in this level. We are very happy but my mes­sage to him is: ev­ery day, don’t stop! Don’t stop in train­ing, don’t stop in matches, not even just in matches but also in each minute of the 90-min­utes and he is do­ing that.” I was torn be­tween trav­el­ling for 45 min­utes from my home to watch Chelsea host Manch­ester United or tak­ing on the 200 mile jour­ney up to Manch­ester to watch the re­turn of Kevin De Bruyne at City. In the end I opted for the long jour­ney all the way up north to City. I rea­soned that if Manch­ester United lost then it would be more mis­ery poured on Jose Mour­inho and aren’t we all get­ting a bit tired of read­ing about United’s prob­lems. If United won or man­aged a draw then there would in­deed be cause for cel­e­bra­tion. In the event a video later in the day showed me what a good match Chelsea and United was and I am pleased for the United man­ager and his play­ers. Per­haps United can turn their mis­er­able sea­son around de­spite be­ing out­played by Ju­ven­tus in the Cham­pion’s League at home in mid­week. At Manch­ester City, it was a dif­fer­ent story. City to­tally dom­i­nated as the 5-0 score­line in­di­cates. I was pleased I chose this match for one sim­ple rea­son: City have an as­ton­ish­ing assem­bly of ta­lent and I saw two of the best goals this sea­son. Riy­had Mahrez was stupidly given space and curled a bril­liant shot into the top corner of the net and Fer­nandino’s screamer was worth the jour­ney alone. I am telling you, this City team are amaz­ing. The ta­lent on dis­play is awe­some. Silva, Sane, De Bruyne, Fer­nandino, Aguero...foot­ballers don’t come any bet­ter. It is pos­si­ble that City could break their own record of 106 goals in a sea­son. And well done to City for hon­our­ing Joe Hart last week. He had a mo­saic un­veiled at the train­ing ground in his hon­our for twelve great years ser­vice at the club. The sup­port­ers also gave him a cheer­ing en­try onto the pitch. Pep Guardi­ola might have discarded Joe on his ar­rival as man­ager but if it wasn’t for this tal­ented goal­keeper, Burn­ley could have lost by an even greater mar­gin. Joe was fan­tas­tic in the first half and he might have left Pep won­der­ing what he let go.

Mour­inho

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