Moody Mourinho? (by Gary Watton)
I’ve been reading and encountering bits of pieces hither and thither which suggest that the special one is no longer the happy one. One Chelsea die-hard, Trizia, suggests that Mourinho needs more outbursts to ramp up the hatred. Why? Chelsea managed to win the coveted league and cup double with Carlo Ancelotti in 2010, scoring more Premiership goals than any team before or since, and we did not fall out with anybody. Does Chelsea need to declare war on everyone who dares to defy us? Surely Chelsea can stroll to the 2015 Premiership without making lots of enemies.
Anyhow, I happen to think that generally speaking Jose Mourinho has played a blinder for much of the season. He has been deliberately placid and poker-faced, which in itself is a commendable strategy. When your team is performing so well, why divert from their heroics with outspoken antics all the time? Mind you, now that the champions of the autumn, as he described them, have struggled a little during the winter, JM has gradually reverted to his old feisty self, falling out with officials and media pundits. Judging by Costa’s stamps and Ivanovic’s throttling of McCarthy of Everton, it seems that his players are now being actively encouraged to be equally belligerent. Is it really required?
Geoffrey Boycott, the cricketing legend of England and Yorkshire, once advised that any batsman should not smile until he has returned to the pavilion and he has got a hundred to his name. Tis good advice. Jose seemed to be imitating this to some extent by deciding that his best approach this season was to keep a lid on the controversial remarks and even curb the intermittent slice of joviality, and wait until the silverware is dished out in May, and then break out into a big, beaming smile. I think that is the right plan of action. Similarly, how many times have you seen one of the tennis greats or snooker legends laugh and joke their way through an important match? Well, I cannot think of any. Instead the winners in sport are invariably those who harness focus and concentration to their ability. Similarly, Jose has chosen to look very focused this season and not let his guard down. Some choose to interpret this as a man who has been gagged by Mr Abramovich. I beg to differ. Is Mourinho undergoing a mid-life crisis or really a bear with a sore head? I don’t think so.
What must also be bore in mind is that whilst some managers have the relative ‘luxury’ of knowing that if they steer their team away from relegation and say finish fifteenth or sixteenth in the league, then they will be deemed a success. Mourinho by contrast must deliver at a club with huge resources and equally large expectations. Coming second in England would be viewed as a failure, all the more so since most footballing experts were predicting Chelsea as champions-elect back in August and September! When you’re carrying such weight of expectations, then the sheer pressure is bound to concentrate the mind of any mortal. Therefore, Jose is right to be a cool Fonzie and not laugh and smile his way through the season’s obstacle course.
Furthermore, in the team coach’s defence, he always seems to preside over teams that enjoy tremendous team spirit and dressing room harmony. Mourinho is nothing if not a good man-manager. This season Chelsea have such characters as Costa and Fabregas in the squad, two individuals capable of starting a row in an empty room, and yet all is well amongst the playing staff. Even the departing Schurrle did not complain about his treatment from the manager. While his players remain happily on board, then Jose can be congratulated for juggling his big egos so well. He has after all been extremely generous in his praise of his team at various times, hailing a number of the performances as “perfect”.
He doesn’t need to pick fights with everyone. However, at the same time, he doesn’t need to do Mr Happy impersonations either. I think that he is reserving any outpouring of joy until May and maybe early June – and even then he can probably be relied upon to nonchalantly hurl his winner’s medal into the Stamford Bridge crowd!
Posted by Gary Watton
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