If I were a rich man
Posted by Sports Snob on January 13, 2007
I feel rather sorry for Jose Mourinho. I’m not echoing too many sentiments here, obviously, because by and large, people look at him and think, “Arrogant Git” (Perhaps its empathy?). Anyway, let me tell you why.
I don’t need to give any of you guys the background of the situation. Roman buys Chelsea. Chelsea finish second. Roman buys Jose (literally). Spends millions and millions of pounds. Chelsea win title. Roman vaguely happy with his football empire. Still wants more. Spends millions again. Chelsea win title again. Empire not crumbling, but certainly not expanding. Spends a few more quid. Season so far – second in the table, in the second round of the Champions League. Through to the FA Cup 4 th round. And a 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers (!) in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. Didier Drogba and Michael Essien apart, they haven’t really set the league on fire, by any measure. There have been two or three spectacular games, notably against Arsenal and, dare I say it, Reading. But on the whole, Chelsea have looked defensive, and there doesn’t appear to be any real strength in depth, as far as the squad is concerned.
‘Chelsea’s squad?’, you may ask. ‘They’ve spent hundreds of millions of pounds on that squad!’ True, true, but almost every single player they bought came with an inflated transfer fee, and the squad as a unit haven’t really lived up to the prices on their heads. Didier Drogba, of course, looks a steal, especially now that he’s cut the diving out of his game (for the most part). Petr Cech was bought by Ranieri, and was a real bargain at just 6 million quid. But then look at the rest – Shaun Wright-Phillips? Jon Obi Mikel? Asier Del Horno? Michael Ballack? (He came on a free, with a 130,000 pound/week pay packet) Andriy Shevchenko?
That last name in particular holds a lot of significance for me. And for Jose too, I believe.
It seems fairly clear that Jose wasn’t that keen on buying Sheva. At least, he wasn’t as keen as Abramovich was. He has undoubted quality, but he’s getting older, losing his pace, and generally looks like he’ll have trouble adapting to the physical nature of the English game. I’d love for him to prove everyone wrong and score bagfuls of goals, because an in-form Shevchenko is magnificent. Can’t see it happening in the immediate future though.
The Oligarch was behind the transfer deal, it is widely suspected, and he was going against Jose’s wishes. For all his bravado and big talk, Jose is actually a very good manager. I won’t say anything about his tactics, because the sight of Robert Huth playing up front still makes me laugh, His man management skills are without question, however. And so are his motivation techniques. His persona seems to have rubbed off on a lot of the squad, as is evident by the arrogance of Lampard and the whining of Terry. Not to mention the gamesmanship of Carvalho and Drogba. They take themselves too seriously though. With Jose, its clear he’s having a laugh, even when he’s whining. Everything he says, everything he does, is designed to attract attention towards him and away from the failings of his team. Not 3 days ago, the Pensioners drew 1-1 against Wycombe, a club three divisions below them in the league. Normally, this would attract much attention and more than a lot of mirth from non-Chelsea supporters. Nobody’s talking about it for two reasons though. One, David Beckham (see below). And two, Jose’s come out and said that he is ‘only a manager’ and effectively said that he doesn’t control the signings. Normally, we’d dismiss this as the (engineered) ravings of a man desperately trying to draw attention away from his team. This time, I think he has a point.
I think a lot of the buys Chelsea have made over the last two and a bit years (Alexei Smertin, anybody?) have been made against Jose’s wishes. The specter of Roman appears to be hanging over a lot of their signings. Specifically those who are out of favour. Peter Kenyon was in all likelihood the mastermind behind the deals involving SWP, Ballack and Mikel, to name but three. Apart from Sheva, of course.
Mourinho doesn’t want to play any of these guys, but it appears that his hand is being forced by someone higher up, at least in the case of Ballack and Shevchenko. Ballack has been anything but impressive so far, and Shevchenko has been played out of position in order to accommodate him in the eleven. The side’s defensive frailties have been exposed by the recent injury to John Terry, and with Joe Cole out for the season, he’s lost one of the most mercurial players in the league. He has tons of players, but he doesn’t want to play them. Instead, he wants to buy MORE players, which leads me to believe that he didn’t really want any of these guys in the first place. Peter Kenyon has shoved off to China (how convenient), and Roman Abramovich recently said in an interview ‘We do not have a warm relationship. But it is friendly’. Or something like that (make of that statement what you will).
In summary , Jose’s got players he doesn’t want to play in the squad. He doesn’t have control over a lot of the transfers (this is my suspicion). He is being forced to play big names, because they are big names. And he’s got injuries in the squad which he wants to cover with new players. Abramovich, for all his philanthropy, is not going to shell out more money. Kenyon’s not in town. Jose’s got his back against the wall. And I’d like to think he’ll fight back.
They play Wigan tonight, and Mourinho has said that Shvechenko will be dropped, and if the board have a problem with that, well, too bad, I’ll be off now. And for all his outbursts, I’m quite fond of him, and I hope he stays in England. What do you reckon?