So, Chelsea won;t end up being the new ‘Invincibles’. The Blues’ quest to emulate Arsenal’s great 03/04 side couldn’t even make it to the New Year after a worryingly lackadaisical performance at Newcastle United saw them go down 2-1. So, of course, we’ve been talking about ball boys.
Even in defeat, Jose Mourinho is the master of press management; after weeks of almost constant praise about his team’s form and predictions of him doing what Arsene Wenger did over ten years ago, the no show at St James’ Park has been glossed over.
The Portuguese tactician knows that attention would have been on picking apart Chelsea’s very ordinary performance, especially the lack of creativity going forward, and inevitably the question being asked would be: “Have the Mourinho Express run out of steam?”
After a damaging loss like the one at the hands of Alan Pardew’s men, a week of questioning whether they can hold off reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, now only three points behind, probably won’t do their nerves much good.
A Champions League dead rubber against Sporting Lisbon in the week will bring a much-needed rest for some key first team stars and it wouldn’t be unthinkable for them to slip up against Mourinho’s countrymen - it’s a crucial moment in the title race.
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Mourinho has been there and done it a number of times, so it would be no surprise if he was mindful of the situation and this prompted him to make the hilarious following statement.
“We wanted to play more football, but it was not possible because of a few things I thought didn’t belong any more to top-level football, but still belong here,” he told reporters after the game.
“The ball disappeared, the ball doesn’t come, another ball comes, the ball boys run away. These kinds of situations that are, unfortunately, still part of the game. But no complaints.”
If Mourinho wasn’t a football manager, perhaps he could carve a career in stand up comedy, because that was pretty hilarious. Do we seriously think that his biggest gripe about the game was a bit of time wasting and the ball boys not fulfilling his expectations of the role?
He’s not a silly man, he knows everywhere Chelsea go and happen to fall behind something similar will take place. He’s not exactly averse to his own side taking up those kind of tactics when ahead in a big game.
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It’s not the first time the children helping out on the sidelines have been the subject of his re either. In 2011 while managing Real Madrid after a Supercopa second leg against Barcelona at Camp Nou, Mourinho made comments about the ball boys going missing at half-time with the home side 2-1 up.
He made sure that there were other talking points that night though, with his infamous eye-gouge of the late Tito Vilanova dominating the headlines from what was a compelling spectacle.
So, all it took was a couple of bizarre sentences about a few kids to make sure we are discussing Mourinho the sore loser, or Mourinho with more objectionable comments - not much about Chelsea crumbling under the pressure of stern opposition and the spectre of a resurgent Manchester City looming up behind them.
He’s not bad at this modern football management lark, is he?