Has Jose Mourinho learned lessons from past mistakes or not? The Portuguese coach’s three-year spell at Real Madrid ended after his relationship with most of the players broke down, stemming from his controversial decision to axe Iker Casillas in favour of Diego Lopez. And now history threatens to repeat itself at Chelsea.
Mourinho has refused to reveal who his number one goalkeeper is throughout the summer - and the two men in question, Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois, still don’t know which of them will be wearing the number one jersey against Burnley in Chelsea’s Premier League opener on Monday.
Courtois set to replace Cech
Courtois was only officially assigned a squad number earlier today - he will wear No. 13, while Cech keeps No. 1 - but the brilliant Belgium international is favourite to start against Clarets next week.
Cech has made it abundantly clear that he is not prepared to sit on the bench and play second-fiddle to Courtois, a goalkeeper ten years his junior.
But Mourinho has kept the Czech Republic guessing instead of being upfront with the 32-year-old and allowing him to find a new club.
Mourinho should have sold Casillas
Back in 2013, Mourinho should have done the right thing and sold Casillas. Had he done so, it’s possible that he would still be at the Bernabeu today.
It proved to divide the Real Madrid camp into two sections. Mourinho had few fans inside the Bernabeu dressing room when he eventually left the club in May 2013, while the majority of Los Blancos supporters also ended up despising the man who had led them to a stunning La Liga triumph just a season earlier.
Watch: Mourinho ignore Iker Casillas
Perhaps Mourinho believes, now that Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole have departed, that he won’t face the same player unrest at Stamford Bridge if he opts to use Cech as his second-choice keeper.
They were two hugely influential figures at Chelsea, and good friends of Cech, but were moved out of Stamford Bridge earlier this summer.
Mourinho safer from player unrest at Chelsea?
It’s hard to imagine the Chelsea supporters turning on Mourinho, either. We know this because they failed to bat an eyelid when the Portuguese coach made the bizarre decision to sell their two-time Player of the Year, Juan Mata, to Manchester United midway through last season.
Amongst the new arrivals at Stamford Bridge this summer are Diego Costa and Filipe Luis, two close pals of Courtois thanks to their time together at Atletico Madrid. Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile, saw exactly what the Belgian starlet was all about over at Barcelona.
Barring captain John Terry - a close aide of Mourinho - and Cech, there aren’t too many senior figures inside the Chelsea dressing room - and this allows the manager more freedom when it comes to player selection.
Mourinho must sell Cech ASAP
Of course, this is how it should be. Courtois is a better goalkeeper than Cech. But the latter should have been told about his manager’s plans long before now.
A big part of him will be hoping that he’ll be selected to play against Burnley on Monday night - he’ll back his own ability, after all - but the disappointment of being reduced to the role of substitute threatens to hit him hard.
There’s still two weeks left for Mourinho to reluctantly sell Cech. Failure to do so will result in another problematic goalkeeper issue - and that could ultimately lead to, just like it did at Real Madrid, his downfall at Chelsea.