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Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006

PREMIER REPORT

Another week, another new low for Chelsea's Mourinho


LONDON -- Jose Mourinho would probably moan if he won the lottery and it wasn't a double rollover.

Christopher Davies

The Chelsea manager would also no doubt blame the referee for this.

When the Portuguese arrived in English football two years ago he was hailed as a breath of fresh air. Sadly, his bullying, boorish behavior has polluted the game.

There seems nothing that Moaninho cannot moan about.

In American sport they say "just win baby."

At Stamford Bridge it would be "just whinge baby."

His performance in Barcelona this week was a combination of brilliant coaching and hateful hypocrisy.

When Barca plays just about any other team there is none of the ill-feeling, rancor or bitterness that now goes hand-in-hand with its Champions League ties against Chelsea.

Mourinho does not care about popularity, only pots. And if that means taking pot-shots at opposing coaches, former players and, of course, the referee then so be it.

He accused Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen of diving to earn a penalty in a Spanish League game, forgetting (or ignoring) the theatrical tumble the Icelander took during the first leg of Chelsea's Champions League semifinal against Liverpool in 2005, which saw Xabi Alonso cautioned and suspended for the second leg.

Mourinho blamed Barcelona and Barcelona only for play-acting and conning the hapless referee during the 2-2 draw at Nou Camp, a game that was riveting entertainment if not always for the right reasons.

He failed to mention the way Didier Drogba, on at least four occasions, went down as if shot by a sniper's bullet.

When the Ivorian scored a stoppage-time equalizer and was jumped upon by jubilant teammates it was a wonder he didn't require surgery.

Mourinho has made an art form of criticizing opponents for dark deeds his own players do equally as well (or badly) and, many would say, more often.

When it comes to simulation, Drogba, Arjen Robben and Joe Cole lead Chelsea's diving dilettantes, and if Deco is Barca's leading exponent, it may be more than a coincidence he played under Mourinho at FC Porto.

Barcelona was not blameless, but Frank Rijkaard is hardly from the aggressive school of coaching from which Mourinho graduated with dishonors.

Both teams took advantage of Stefano Farina, the weak Italian referee who never had the respect of the players or control of the match, but we have seen the Nou Camp excesses so many times from Team Mourinho.

The pity is that the coach's (mis)behavior and constant public outbursts detract from his side's considerable achievements.

Mourinho has made one of the best teams in Europe possibly the most reviled in European football history, an ignominious distinction.

Whatever it takes to win Mourinho will do -- and more.

Such is the depth of its squad and financial resources, that suspensions and fines are swatted away like an annoying fly.

In terms of results and consistency, Mourinho's Chelsea are setting new standards.

Off the pitch, Mourinho is also setting new standards -- of how to become the most disliked coach most can remember.

IT'S ALWAYS Chelsea.

A new Premiership scandal breaks and too often Chelsea is at the center of it.

Which of course pre-supposes the club with the largest financial resources in the history of the game gives a hoot.

The arrogance that comes with unlimited funds is a feature of Stamford Bridge these days, and Chelsea's latest flirt with the authorities ended when it agreed to pay Leeds United £5 million for the alleged tapping up of three of the Yorkshire club's youth team players.

It is hush money -- officially compensation -- and Leeds chairman Ken Bates, who sold his Chelsea shareholding to Roman Abramovich three years ago and left Stamford Bridge with £17 million, withdrew his complaint made to the Football League last August.

There is, of course, a confidentially clause -- money may not buy you love but it can buy silence -- and the only Leeds statement was: "There will be no further statements."

Chelsea did not admit to breaking any rules after claims it illegally recruited Tom Taiwo and Michael Wood, two England Under-16 internationals, and attempted to recruit a third promising youngster, Danny Rose who eventually decided to stay at Elland Road.

Bates said at the time of the official complaint that financial punishments would not hurt Chelsea, but "the deduction of points" would be more appropriate.

Perhaps Leeds' debts and the need to buy new players in an effort to climb away from the Championship relegation zone contributed to a change of heart.

The football authorities are unwilling to impose a points deduction on any big club found guilty of an offense that warrants such a punishment because of the inevitable legal challenge.

Had Chelsea, fined £300,000 last year for illegally tapping up Arsenal's Ashley Cole (who they eventually signed), been found guilty of any offense regarding Leeds, the sanction would not have been £5 million.

So everyone is smiling.

Chelsea has two of the most highly rated teenagers in English football, the F.A. has avoided another high-profile case involving the Premiership Champions and Leeds is £5 million better off.

It's nice when there is a happy ending.

Christopher Davies was a longtime soccer correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.


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