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Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006

PREMIER REPORT

Mourinho's constant moaning comes at a cost for Chelsea


LONDON -- Dear Jose (if I can call you that as opposed to Senior Mourinho),

Christopher Davies

It was disappointing to see you once again give the press a red card, refusing to appear in front of the media after Chelsea's 4-1 win over Everton in an F.A. Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday.

You were apparently angry that Chelsea has not received the credit it deserves for its stunning record under you, the Special One (as you called yourself).

Yes, it is true much of the post-match talk and headlines when you beat Liverpool 2-0 last Sunday was about Arjen Robben's outrageous exaggeration of pain when Jose Reina ill-advisedly put a hand in the winger's face.

For what it's worth, I think the referee would have sent off Reina whatever Robben's reaction -- the Liverpool goalkeeper's antics gave Robben the chance to make out he had been hit by Lennox Lewis and the ref to show the Spaniard the red card.

But Jose, you should have a word with rocking Robben because he is becoming better known for falling over rather than what he can do when standing up.

"Rafael (Benitez) is a great manager," you said and we know when you make such a compliment a verbal knife in the ribs usually follows. It did.

"Great managers are intelligent, so after the game when they were beaten by us, he spoke about Reina and took the details out of the great game Chelsea played," you wrote in your Everton program notes.

Well Jose, you are a great manager but you probably forget that after Chelsea won 2-0 at Arsenal recently, the headlines were not about another outstanding Chelsea victory but how Philippe Senderos, the Arsenal defender, should have been sent off twice (!!!).

Why was that?

Er, because that was what dominated your post-match press conference!

Yes, you in effect did what Benitez did to your own team.

Oh, Jose!

And while you have hundreds of tactical dossiers, there doesn't appear to be a laws of the game booklet in your portfolio.

If there was you would know that referee Rob Styles was correct to only caution Senderos when he fouled Hernan Crespo, because the Argentine was not heading directly toward goal, so an obvious goalscoring opportunity was not denied.

Anyway, you went on about Liverpool: "They question the moral actions of our player (Robben) but I do not remembering them questioning anyone last May when the ball did not cross the line (in the Champions League semifinal at Anfield for their winner)."

Tut tut Jose.

Now you might say there is no television evidence to prove the ball crossed the line, but then again there is none to prove it did NOT, so why not trust the assistant referee who was well placed to make a decision?

Had the incident happened at the other end would you have questioned the linesman's judgment?

You did not say anything when Eidur Gudjohnsen clearly handled the ball in the build up to a crucial goal against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

Or when Ricardo Carvalho fouled the Barcelona goalkeeper as Chelsea scored in the Champions League win at Stamford Bridge last season.

So Jose, maybe we all see -- and don't see -- what we want to.

You also never really spoke about two horrendous tackles by Michael Essien on Bolton's Tal Ben Haim (the midfielder was only cautioned) and Didi Hamann on Liverpool.

Essien was banned for two matches by UEFA for the latter challenge -- Jose, what would you have said if one of YOUR players had been the recipient of such a challenge?

Quite a lot I suspect.

Joe Cole has been cautioned twice for diving this season so I hope you have told the midfielder to make more of an effort to stay on his feet because if an opponent dived against Chelsea . . . well, I can't imagine you keeping silent!

Jose, you are the Special One and you manage a very special team. But too often it is you who ensures sensational headlines with unnecessary rants about officials or opponents.

You could have had the media in the palm of your special hand, but you have chosen to be confrontational, making the news yourself and overshadowing your players' achievements.

Chelsea is rewriting the record books, but your attitude has turned the public against your fabulous team. It could and should have been so different.

MARTIN O'NEILL was scheduled to be part of Five Live's Super Bowl coverage from Detroit last Sunday but the former Celtic manager, a National Football League enthusiast, pulled out of his radio commitment because his wife apparently suffered a relapse to the cancer she is battling.

It was also the reason O'Neill canceled an interview with the Football Association of Ireland before Christmas as the Republic of Ireland searched for a new manager.

Football Association leaks put O'Neill at the top of the short list to be successor to Sven-Goran Eriksson when the Swede quits the England job after this summer's World Cup finals.

Am I alone in thinking it is in extremely bad taste given the hugely sensitive circumstances that O'Neill is linked with ANY job?

Fine manager he may be, but even O'Neill put family before football and stepped away from the sport to care for his wife.

The circumstances have not changed -- indeed, they could have worsened -- yet the FAI and the English F.A. seem to put self-interest before O'Neill's domestic situation.

The F.A. appears to favor a British coach, with Alan Curbishley (Charlton) and Stuart Pearce (Manchester City) seemingly ahead of Bolton's Sam Allardyce in the Soho Square pecking order.

Allardyce has done a brilliant job in establishing Bolton as a Premiership force, possessing an unrivaled eye for bargain basement foreign players.

Yet too often Bolton's approach borders on brutal, while Allardyce's regular outbursts against referees are hardly the stuff of an England manager.

Christopher Davies covers Arsenal and the Republic of Ireland for the London Daily Telegraph.


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