It has not been a great week for Chelsea.
Already five points adrift from not one but two teams up in Manchester they are also amidst a team doctor media tornado, not to mention that the players look lead-legged, and their long serving, highly influential captain John Terry is either unfit, too slow or in the bad books on the basis of his half-time withdrawal versus Manchester City – a game in which they were thoroughly outplayed.
The biggest problem? Every single one of the above shortcomings can be dedicated to one man: Jose Mourinho. Their manager, their ‘Special One’, their ‘Happy One’ this week has been a Sloppy, Unprofessional and Silly one.
The Eva Carneiro story is a self-afflicted sham. We all know Mourinho is a thoughtful man; one who calculates his verbal attacks on fellow managers, one who meticulously plots his team’s defensive shutouts. It is an absolute certainty that Mourinho considered and approved saying what he said about his medical team before he let it slip off his surly tongue.
And yet it is genuinely beyond anyone’s comprehension as to why he said it. I truly believe that now it is even beyond Mourinho’s himself. There is no logical, managerial benefit to smearing and then dethroning a member of his medical staff. As demonstrated by Sir Alex Ferguson’s business-lecturer role at Harvard University, football management is no different to any other form of workforce leadership and motivation. In this case, the equivalent action to Mourinho’s in any other line of business would be quickly seen as disastrous, suicidal, and stupid.
And then there is the Manchester City game. A deserved 3-0 loss where Mourinho’s team showed none of the defensive guile we’ve come to know them by. What’s more, he withdrew his captain, his general, his defensive rock – John Terry – at half time, leaving his leader-less eleven men to endure the drubbing for another 45 minutes. They conceded two more goals. That doesn’t scream genius management to me.
For Mourinho to then slink into the post-match interviews saying the result was ‘fake’ and ‘underserved’ then allows his players to feel blameless. It allows them to relax and think all is well. It allows them to ignore the fact that they are all two weeks behind most other teams when it comes to match sharpness (Fabregas in particular looked like he was playing in hiking boots).
Why not embrace the lack of performance, and use it to fuel future success? We’re better than that, let’s go prove everyone wrong.
Mourinho has proven himself to be one of the best tacticians of all time – one loss to Manchester City does not change that. He also has a knack of getting under opposing manager’s skins, of manipulating referees and instilling a relentless, warrior persona into every single one of his players.
But this week has proven one thing – he falls just short of being one of the best managers of all time. An all-time great manager would not jeopardise the health or publicity of his team by publicly debasing his head doctor in a bitter post-match interview. An all-time great manager would never allow his team to turn up on day 1 of their title defending season less than 100% sharp.
And of the sore-loser in Mourinho – the Mourinho who claims his team suffered a ‘fake’ 3-0 loss to City, the Mourinho who chooses to slander his team doctor in order to skew post-match reports rather than stare his team’s shortcomings in the face – that’s not a part of Mourinho that necessarily makes him a worse manager. Every manager has a will to win, and none more so than Mourinho. But that part does tend to look particularly ugly once his cheeky grin fades, the fun quips have quietened, and other cracks begin to show in his management.
An all-time great manager lets the media make the stories, the doctors do their duty and their captains lead their team.