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Saturday, Nov. 11, 2006

PREMIER REPORT

Mourinho, Chelsea show appalling lack of class in Poll row


LONDON -- Congratulations to Chelsea for becoming more disliked than it was at the time of last week's column.

Christopher Davies

As the least popular team in England by a distance (and some) it is a feat for the Blues to go down further in people's estimation but they have achieved this ignominy with ease.

There was, of course, no sense of hypocrisy or double standards from manager Jose Mourinho after their 2-1 defeat at Tottenham last Sunday.

If Claude Makelele scoring the opening goal was 50-1 against, Mourinho blaming the referee -- in this case Graham Poll -- for his team's loss was 50-1 on.

It has become a predictably boring whinge for Moaninho to point the finger at the referee after a loss, this time with sinister undertones to his statement: "He (Poll) has perfect vision -- two matches with him, and five points we have lost."

As Mourinho is a lover of statistics (when they suit his argument) he could also have said: "Since I have been manager of Chelsea, Mr. Poll has refereed us in 11 Premiership games. Chelsea has won 24 of the 33 points available."

For some reason his research did not go back further than the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa earlier this season, a result which Mourinho hinted Poll was a party to.

Poll disallowed a Didier Drogba effort at Tottenham that Mourinho -- with all the surprise of night following day -- could not understand.

It would be interesting to know if Mourinho understood why, in Chelsea's 4-2 win over Barcelona in March 2005, Terry's headed goal that made it 5-4 on aggregate was allowed.

Ricardo Carvalho clearly fouled goalkeeper Victor Valdes, allowing Terry a free header, and even Mourinho would not be able to keep a straight face justifying that goal.

Taking a lead from their manager, Chelsea's players joined in the Poll-baiting.

Terry, who was dismissed in the second half, accused Poll of changing his mind over the reason for his second yellow card at White Hart Lane.

Terry said: "On the pitch, Graham Poll said to me (the second yellow card) was for the barge on (Hossam) Ghaly where I kept running. After the game he said it was for the fall when Ledley King and I fell."

As video evidence suggests there was no contact between Terry and Poll when the Chelsea captain left the field, the F.A. has asked Terry to explain exactly when this conversation took place -- as evidence is not apparent.

A referee does not, nor is obliged to tell a player why he has been cautioned or sent off.

Terry could also be asked where the alleged second conversation happened, as only managers are allowed to speak to referees after matches.

It is also puzzling that after Terry's foul on King, and the Chelsea player seemingly saying something to the defender, Spurs players, led by Pascal Chimbonda and Didier Zokora, reacted with disproportionate rage to any usual footballing comment that may have been made.

Ashley Cole has been asked to explain his comments when he alleged Poll said of Chelsea: "Your discipline is out of order and you need to be taught a lesson."

Everything Poll, who was "miked up," said during the game was heard by the two linesmen and fourth official, who will confirm the referee did not say this, so a misconduct charge for the England left-back seems inevitable.

The other match officials could also verify whether Poll told Terry the reason for his sending off.

When Cole is called to the inevitable F.A. disciplinary hearing, he will hope he emerges with more credibility than he did from the Premier League inquiry into, ironically, his tapping-up case last year involving Chelsea.

The official report stated: "We had grave difficulty in giving credence to Ashley Cole's account. . . "

What a charmless, boorish, bullying, hypocritical, nasty, buck-passing bunch they are at Stamford Bridge these days.

Mourinho is the catalyst for this "whatever it takes . . . by any means possible" attitude Chelsea has almost perfected.

Chelsea will accept any fine, which is loose change to its billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich.

Such punishments are all part of the game at Chelsea, and as unpopular as Manchester United has been in the past, football supporters in England would unite in celebration if the Reds -- or anyone -- beat the Blues to the Premiership title.

THE F.A. should be charged with bringing the game it oversees into disrepute for its pathetic failure to back Graham Poll from the fallout at Tottenham.

Poll reported that when he cautioned Michael Ballack for dissent he felt threatened by Chelsea players as they rounded on the referee in protest.

Poll wrote this in his official report as under F.A. guidelines if a referee is surrounded by three or more players from a team in a threatening/harassing manner that club could be fined up to £250,000.

The F.A. effectively said no, Poll was not threatened -- essentially telling England's premier referee how he felt.

While the F.A. might not necessarily have thought Poll was threatened, the guardians of English football should have backed the Tring official.

By not doing so they have let down 30,000 referees in England who must wonder if it is ever worth reporting they felt threatened again.

You could almost hear the laughter from Stamford Bridge when the F.A. decided that what Chelsea players did was permissible . . . a bit of on-field anarchy never hurt anyone, did it?

Latest score: Bully Boys In Blue 1, Football Association 0.

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


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