Football

Jose Mourinho plays his game perfectly on Goals on Sunday

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What must have James Beattie been feeling when he was called by the Goals of Sunday producer on Saturday night to tell him his services would no longer be needed?

The former Southampton striker had finished his shift on Football Focus and was preparing for another light-hearted chat with Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara on a comfy little television show. But the Chelsea press officer had already been in touch to say Jose Mourinho wanted a last minute slot. Sorry, but Beattie stood no chance.

Everyone concerned with ratings at Sky Sports must have celebrated. Sunday's biggest TV headline should have gone to Paul Gascoigne, who appeared of BT Sport's Fletch and Sav.

Gascoigne was ever so brave to step back on our screens. His continued battle with addiction is something everyone in football should be supporting, but the limelight had been deflected away from this England legend and onto the man of the moment. Wherever Mourinho goes, he will command the biggest audience.

Mourinho loves to talk. People who talk a lot usually talk a lot of rubbish, but with Mourinho the more he speaks the more people start to listen. His brutal honesty of just about everyone and everything is so rare in a world filled with FA charges for 'bringing the game into disrepute'.

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A rational speaker

The Chelsea manager wears his heart on his sleeve yet retains a rationality that so many have failed to do when blowing their top – think Kevin Keegan circa 1996. The angrier he gets the more influential he seems to become.

“I speak about these incidents week after week, because they happen week after week"

Despite being fined £25,000 for his conduct in the press last month, Mourinho appeared on Goals on Sunday ready to attack refereeing standards once again. Ben Shephard had clearly been up half the night trying to get ready for what would be a much more intense interview than he was expecting - sorry again, Beattie.

Chris Kamara, always game for laugh, was out of his depth. There was to be no fun and games on this morning. This was the Mourinho show and the laugh-out-loud pundit knew it. This was the quietest anyone had ever seen him.

The agenda

First, Mourinho went into the four incidents he believed cost Chelsea all three points against Burnley. Then, he said his English was not good enough to describe Ashley Barnes' tackle on Nemanja Matic that could have left him with a broken leg.

He said: “This [tackle] could be end of career. Because I can’t find another adjective stronger. I just say this is end of career. Matic is a lucky guy.”

Chelsea are likely to appeal the red card given to Matic for his retaliation, and that appeal is likely to be denied. As a result, he will miss the Capital One Cup final and could well be sitting in the stands with Mourinho, who admitted he was risking a ban by just appearing on the usually-mundane television show.

"I’m not trying to bring the game into disrepute – which is always [the phrase] they use when they want to punish me. I’m just trying to be honest"

Mourinho has won

But regardless of what happens from now, Mourinho has won. He has most of the Premier League on his side now. Journalists are eating out of his hands while fans all over Europe are discussing his chosen agenda.

His players no longer need Mourinho's presence in the dressing room because he has already become their spokesman; their martyr. If he dies by the sword, they will fight to avenge him. Mourinho has convinced his players the world is against them, that almost everyone wants to stop them succeeding. They will be as motivated as ever to win in spite of all the nasty outside influences.

"If the referee cannot see, some official in front of a screen cannot miss it. We want to protect the integrity of the game"

A measured attack

Yesterday's appearance was not an emotional post-game reaction neither was it a chronically boring and non-descriptive assessment that has become so prominent with the likes of Arsene Wenger, Louis van Gaal and Manuel Pellegrini.

This was a measured attack on an actual problem - refereeing standards are not good enough and something has to change. Mourinho is the only one of 20 managers willing to risk punishment to air the frustration. Indeed, his Chelsea side, despite being five points clear, have been the worst affected by a poorly constructed judicial system. But others would usually burst into the press conference say a few choice words and accept the fine with their tail between their legs - end of story.

Mourinho has come out fighting for not just his own team but for Premier League football. He has sparked a debate that could snowball, eventually leading to positive change. He isn't trying to bring football into disrepute, he is trying to improve it.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Jose Mourinho
Chelsea

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