Jose Mourinho is a manager that is able to inspire players like no other. Zlatan Ibrahimovic once claimed he was prepared “to kill” for the Mourinho, such is the commitment and passion he is able to incite in his troops.
His departure from Chelsea led to tears in the dressing room as Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba descended into quivering wrecks, while it was a similar story after Mourinho won the Champions League with Inter. Just ask Marco Materrazi.
But this is darker side to Mourinho; a facet to his personality that is far more clinical. This week Mourinho has allowed this to emerge once again with his decision to promote Thibaut Courtois to Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper.
There is little doubt that Courtois is deserving of his chance, but the way in which Mourinho chose to discard Petr Cech is nothing other than spineless. Cech deserved far more from his manager, but Mourinho has been disrespectful in the extreme.
The expectation of loyalty in football is the stuff of fantasy, but Cech at least ought to have earned a personal touch from Mourinho. This, however, has not been forthcoming, as reported by Matt Law in The Telegraph.
It is claimed that Cech was not offered any face-to-face indication as to Mourinho’s decision to favour Courtois, either in pre-season or before the Premier League opener with Burnley, and the 32-year-old is understandably disappointed with the way he has been dealt with.
Cech arrived at Chelsea a decade ago, the same summer Mourinho came to Stamford Bridge, and has thus been the No.1 ‘keeper for every trophy the club have won in the Roman Abramovich era.
He has also kept a club record 220 clean sheets and, only last season, was named by his peers in the PFA’s team of the season. But perhaps more importantly, Cech is an excellent professional, well regarded for his application and attitude.
The way his current situation has been handled perhaps suggests Mourinho is a far weaker character than had previously been considered. Is the Portuguese unable to stand up to the prospect of breaking bad news to a club icon of Cech’s standing?
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Mourinho it would appear is manoeuvring the situation into his favour. He would much rather make Cech’s position untenable by unsettling him further, ensuring it is he who ends with his reputation still intact.
The more frustrated Cech becomes, the more likely he is to pursue a transfer away from the club. There is interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, and a departure does appear like it will be the outcome.
Mourinho, meanwhile, can continue to publicly state that he wants Cech to stay and rather claim that the player forced a transfer away from the club he had served so greatly. The manager avoids the ire of supporters, and it is rather Cech’s motives that are questioned.
We’ve seen it before, of course. Mourinho has made a habit of doing this to certain players. Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have been victims as, to some extent, was Ashley Cole. He even tried and failed to oust Iker Casillas from Real Madrid.
But, at Chelsea, no player of Cech’s stature has received such unmerciful treatment. His Chelsea career is over, of that we can be sure, and it is a great shame that he will leave with such a sour taste.