The praise should have been on Manchester City’s players who performed exceptionally well against the existing Premier League champions. But instead the focus of much of todays coverage in the British press is on the apparent implosion happening at Chelsea. Always happy to bypass the truth in pursuit of a good story, the british tabloids are reporting that Mourinho has lost the dressing room, has fallen out with key figures like captain John Terry and is at war with his backroom staff as well. Last weeks drama with his medical team, where he accosted doctor Eva Carniero and Physio Jon Fearn during the final minutes of their 2-2 draw with Swansea was still rumbling on as the Man City game came around, much to the annoyance of Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese coach, whose side were already down to ten men after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off took exception to the pair running on to treat Eden Hazard who had fallen to the ground from a fairly weak challenge. The referee had beckoned the medical staff onto the pitch but Mourinho felt that Hazard was just tried and would eventually get up even without medical intervention. Mourinho castrated the pair as he believed that they did not understand the implications of their actions with Chelsea reduced momentarily to nine men. With the game on a knife’s edge, Mourinho feared a Swansea counter attack that could have lost him the game.
The press coverage of this story has been ridiculous with many saying that the relationship between Mourinho and his medical team has gone into meltdown and that Caniero and Fearn had been sacked from their roles. The truth, which unsurprisingly is less dramatic is that Mourinho simply removed the pair from his bench for the Manchester City game. In a colourful interview on Friday, Mourinho explained that he has a strong working relationship with his medical staff of 12 people including doctors, physios and massuers which is based on good communication and self-improvement. More than any other coach in the last two season, Mourinho has heaped praise on his medical staff saying repeatedly that they were to thank for keeping his players fit and strong throughout the gruelling seasons. But in regards to the Carniero and Fearn issue, it was his call as to whom would be on the bench with only two slots available for his medical staff. The press chose to ignore Mourinho when he said that it was not a permanent move and that Caniero and Fearn could be back on the bench soon but again that would damage their sensational story so chose to let that piece of information slide.
The same can be said for the John Terry “situation”. The Chelsea captain was subbed off at half time against City in an apparent first sign that the longstanding centre half’s career at the club was coming to an end. Speculation as to why he was removed from the game ranged from a fall out with Mourinho to Terry taking too much control in the dressing room which irked the manager. The truth, again somewhat disappointingly was that the switch was tactical with Mourinho feeling that Kurt Zouma could control the threat of Sergio Aguero much more comfortably than Terry due to his power and more importantly speed. Terry had struggled in the first half to cope with the Argentine hitman so taking him off made sense. Many point out that none of the back line had an inspired first half which is true however Terry, who is now 34 is easily the slowest out of the four that started the game. The introduction of Zouma did work with Aguero’s threat nullified in the second half but as Terry sat on the bench the tabloids concocted his demise. Mourinho’s comments after the game explaining his captain’s substitution were again butchered by the media in order to fit their Terry out storyline, misinterpreting Mourinho saying that he had given the player his chance as a sign that he was trying to bring the captain down a peg or two. What he actually said was that Terry was a fantastic captain who he relied on and that he knew him best after giving him his break so subbing him was his choice. Despite the numerous press interviews Mourinho gave explaining that the Terry substitution was purely tactical, the press have chosen to speculate rather than report the truth.
The only story that should have been reported is that Chelsea look lacklustre in their first two games of the season which should be and will be a worry for Mourinho. Upfront Diego Costa looks short of match sharpness but Mourinho is forced to play him due to lack of alternatives. In the midfield Matic and Fabregas have failed to spark and have been caught short in both game which is something Mourinho will need to address. At the back, errors have been made by several key figures including the dismissal of Courtois in the first week that cost Chelsea the game. But after only two games the alarm bells should not be ringing. Chelsea still have time to strengthen their squad and get back on track which they will look to do next Sunday against West Brom. The press will write what they want regardless if it’s the truth or not. Sensationalism sells and at Chelsea that starts and ends with the manager, Jose Mourinho.