Jose Mourinho and the Art of Being a Winner
In a rather extraordinary scene at Stamford Bridge this weekend, Chelsea lined up for the fifth round of the FA Cup despite being knocked out in the last round against Bradford City.
josé Mourinho refused to answer any questions about the game in the pre-match press conference attended by a journalist from Belgium who stopped off in West London on the off chance of an interview with Eden Hazard. He did, however, mention that his suit was by Armani, his shirt by Paul Smith and his underwear by Marks & Spencer.
When the Belgian sports writer pointed out that Chelsea weren’t actually in the 5th round, Mourinho ignored the question, adding: “I really want the crowd to get behind the boys today. They’ve gone quiet again. We must win this to stay on course for the treble. The FA Cup is a big tournament for Chelsea and the players deserve better from the fans.”
The manager then ripped off his mike and stormed out when the Belgian asked which team it was that Chelsea were playing. “This is the kind of media conspiracy we’re up against,” he muttered to Assistant First Team Coach Rui Faria, who put his fist through the media room window. “Who put you up to asking that question?” Mourinho snarled as he stormed out of the room tiptoeing around the glass in his (Gucci) brogues.
The players ran out onto the pitch a few minutes later to complete silence from the empty seats. As they went through their fitness exercises and passed the ball back and forth, Mourinho was flapping his hands like a bird in the technical area, either trying to wind up the imaginary crowd or trying to draw attention to his natty beige leather gloves (Dolce & Gabbana).
A whistle blew in the center circle and it was Assistant First Team Coach Steve Holland in a yellow referee outfit. He signaled across the Eva Carneiro, the First Team Doctor, to his right, and Manoel Ribeiro, the club’s Massage Therapist, to his left, both holding up flags to show they were ready to run the line.
Mourinho has clearly decided the FA Cup is a priority, even though Chelsea is no longer in it, and has fielded his best team in the usual blue shirts. The opponents today appear to be, well, Chelsea, wearing the yellow away strip.
The Portuguese manager seems particularly heated, shouting instructions at both sets of players and gesticulating wildly at Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois to swap places. It seems Cech is first choice keeper for cup games.
Costa kicks off to himself and runs towards goal without even looking around. Cahill, clearly out of favor, runs towards the center forward – too close as it turns out - and slumps suddenly to the ground clutching his jaw after taking a left hook. The ball rolls loose and Costa, studs showing, rakes his boot down Filipe Luis’s leg, adding a quick stamp for good measure before sliding the ball into the right hand corner past the flailing arms of the Belgium national keeper.
Mourinho was looking away from the action until just before the ball hit the net and punches the air in jubilation. The referee is equally oblivious to the carnage and when Carneiro starts to run on the pitch with her medical bag she’s waved back to the touchline to ensure nobody else waves for offside.
Didier Drogba restarts the game for Chelsea (B) and Mourinho can be seen applauding the referee when the Ivorian is penalized for slightly leaning into Fabregas, who then takes the free kick to Hazard who runs at full pace into the penalty box alone and falls over.
At 35 minutes, with Chelsea leading 12-0, John Terry catches the ball in the box and throws it out to Willian who, assuming wrongly there will be a penalty, is walking over to drink some Gatorade and doesn’t see the throw that slams into the back of his head. The ball cannons back to Loic Remy, who’s standing on the goal line with Cezar Azpilicueta discussing the previous night’s Tapas, and the Frenchman taps it into the empty net.
Now Mourinho’s definitely watching and he screams at the referee that the goal was either offside, handball or a foul, basically whatever Holland chooses to give as long as he disallows it.
In a moment of madness, the ref shrugs his shoulders and points back to the center circle.
All hell breaks out in the Chelsea technical area with Faria, Silvino Louro, another Assistant First Team Coach, and Goalkeeper Coach Christophe Lollichon going berserk, ripping up their seats and throwing them on the field. Mourinho has pulled off his overcoat and is jumping up and down on it as if it was off-the-peg.
“It’s a conspiracy,” he shouts at the top of his voice. “The refs have got it in for us. It’s obvious.” His staff, now all standing because they’ve destroyed the seats, chant their boss’s name, their voices echoing around the empty stadium.
Play finally restarts and Costa manages his 10th goal of the game after Branislav Ivanovic puts such a tight chokehold on Ruben Loftus-Cheek that he suffocates to death. No foul is called.
We’re 40 minutes into the match and Mourinho goes into the opposing side’s technical area and finds a groundsman to shake hands with before walking slowly down the tunnel without looking back.
Faria signals to the ref to end the match. Mourinho has apparently decided on a new rule for the Bridge. If his team is winning by more than 10 goals they get the win without having to play the second half. It’s part of owner Roman Abramovitch’s commitment to combating global warming.
In the press conference after the game the Belgian journalist asks the manager whether he thought Costa should have been sent off for punching Cahill and then stamping and raking Luis.
“I didn’t see it,” said Mourinho. “But Diego is a skillful, touch player without an ounce of aggression in him. I trust he would never do anything like that.”
“What about the Terry catch?” The Belgian was quite the investigative journalist.
“John is a living legend. He’s a gentleman. If John said he didn’t handball, he didn’t handball, simple as that. I didn’t actually see it.”
“The first of the six penalties?”
“I didn’t see it but I know Eden and he would never dive. Never.” Mourinho looks outraged. “He has such a low center of gravity it would take a bulldozer to knock him over.”
“And the Ivanovic death-hold?”
“Branislav has been a great mentor to Ruben and they were very close. He was just giving the boy a hug and he must have squeezed a little hard at an unfortunate point around the throat. But I can’t really say too much because I didn’t see it.”
The Belgian tried asking for an interview with Hazard or Courtois, but Mourinho ignored him.
“Is there anything else you’d like to say about the performance of your team?” the writer said when the silence got too awkward.
“Yes, it was a terrific performance and I only wish I could say the same about the refereeing. It was disgraceful. Their goal was clearly a foul, handball and offside. It is all part of the referee’s conspiracy against the greatest Chelsea team ever assembled.
“The fact that so few member of the media bothered to turn up on such a big night for us is another example of the media conspiracy against us.
“And, as much as I hate to bring this up again, I hope the crowd at Stamford Bridge does a better job of getting behind the team in the quarter final, the semi final and the final when Chelsea wins the FA Cup.”