Mourinho is blameless in my book
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.